Blue Ribbon Cafe Serves Food Worthy of Its Name

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Blue Ribbon Cafe

Twelve years ago, Dianne Cosper converted an old service station that once filled tanks in the small town of Soddy-Daisy into a full-service eatery that now fills stomachs. And it only grows in popularity as the years go by.

With no background in the food-service industry, it was a bold step, but with a keen interest in cooking, she opened the doors with a menu that’s half of what it is today.

“I took the things I knew I did well and worked them into the menu.”

Cosper’s office bookshelves are filled with cookbooks from which she pulls inspiration for many of her recipes, including desserts such as her much­-loved fresh strawberry cakes using local Tennessee strawberries.

“I only make them when I can get fresh berries,” she says. “And that’s for only about six weeks a year.” Last year, she made about 240 cakes. This year, she expects to make more.

The Dish on Blue Ribbon Cafe

Location: 9705 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday
Phone: (423) 332-5005

Chicken tenders were and continue to be a house specialty used in many of the dishes currently on the menu. They’re marinated for hours and, when ready to fry, dredged in seasoned flour and served with a side, such as hand-cut fries, freshly mashed Yukon Gold potatoes or white beans that have simmered for hours. Cosper built on the popularity of those tenders.

“From there we developed our fried chicken salad and fried chicken wraps.”

And then, the Jimmy Buffet salad was born, another offshoot of those popular tenders. It’s a Caribbean-inspired salad of lettuces topped with grilled chicken, Craisins, toasted almonds and fruits served with tangy mango-pineapple vinaigrette. It’s still the most popular of all salads on the menu.

Blue Ribbon Cafe

Every night features a different special. On Tuesdays, it’s chicken and dressing. Wednesdays, folks come for the made-from-scratch chicken and dumplings. Friday is the only day hamburgers are sold. Cosper won’t budge on that, insisting that the buns must be homemade. She simply doesn’t have time to make them every day.

Sauces, too, are made from scratch, including that used for the Seafood Bake, a dish with shrimp, fish and scallops enveloped in a creamy, dreamy cheese sauce.
The most popular of all dishes? Shrimp and grits. And it’s not just the shrimp, sautéed with house seasonings, that draws folks from miles around. It’s the grits.

Johnita Jones has been a patron since Blue Ribbon first opened, and she’s a dedicated fan of the grits.

“I don’t know what’s in them, but they are awesome,” she says.

And they’re the reason she keeps coming back, along with the people and the other dishes, she adds.

“Our focus is on food,” Cosper says. “This is not the kind of place to see and be seen. You come here to enjoy good food. And when I see people say, ‘Oh wow!’ when they take their first bite, it’s extremely satisfying.”

4 Comments

  1. Nadine Jackson

    February 28, 2015 at 7:58 am

    My husband and I decided to visit Blue Ribbon Cafe after reading the restaurant review in TN Farm & Home Spring 2015. The Shrimp and Grits lived up to the anticipated delicious expectations. My husband enjoyed a huge serving of Catfish with Fries and Cole Slaw. We decided to take a piece of Coca-cola Cake home to share. The dark chocolate, nut-filled cake fulfilled any chocolate lover’s dream. Thanks for leading us to this tasty cafe. After snow and cold for the past two weeks, the sunshine was a welcomed treat on the drive from Kingston.

    • Jessy Yancey

      March 18, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Nadine,

      Happy to hear you enjoyed it so much! We’re planning to include your comments about Blue Ribbon in the Summer 2015 issue of our magazine. Thanks so much for sharing!

      Jessy Yancey
      editor, Tennessee Home & Farm

  2. Jan

    March 2, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    My son and I ate here a while back! The Food was fantastic! The Atmosphere interesting ~ The Service was exemplary, and the prices reasonable! It was obvious it was all fresh and well prepared! Will go back on my next visit to Soddy Daisy!

  3. Jan

    September 17, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    My son and I stopped there on the way home from Chattanooga (we live near Cookeville) probably 2 years ago and have been hoping to get back ever since! The FOOD was some of the best I have had! And I have traveled this country from border to border and coast to coast! The Chicken was to die for tender and everything was obviously fresh! And the service was with a smile and top notch! I have and will continue to recommend the Blue Ribbon!

    We are definitely going back soon!

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