Southern Hospitality Meets Tried-and-True Comfort Food at Miss Mary Bobo’s

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Miss Mary Bobo's

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

Savor the flavor of classic Southern cooking – mixed with a little Tennessee history – at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House & Restaurant in Lynchburg.

This historic attraction’s origin dates back to the 1820s, when a portion of the building was constructed around a spring that’s still visible today. The structure received an addition in 1867, and it operated as the Salmon Hotel until Miss Mary Bobo purchased it in 1908. She turned it into a boarding house, where she hosted both short- and long-term guests and became well-known for her midday meals.

“Miss Mary Bobo’s is a Lynchburg institution,” says Laura Zimbrick, manager of hospitality for the Jack Daniel Distillery, which currently owns Miss Mary Bobo’s. “Miss Mary and her daughter would host lunches – usually called ‘dinners’ here in Lynchburg – for their guests and members of the community, giving them a wonderful experience based around food and storytelling. It was truly something special.”

Miss Mary, the first female business owner in Lynchburg, cooked for and served diners until she passed away a month shy of her 102nd birthday in 1983. However, her spirit remains alive in the restaurant as people continue to come from far and wide to gather around tables at lunchtime (or “dinnertime,” as she would have called it) and choose from an ever-changing menu of Southern comfort food must-haves like fried chicken, fried okra and mashed potatoes.

“Just like Miss Mary did, we serve family-style midday meals,” Zimbrick says. “Guests from all over the world sit next to one another, passing plates, sharing stories and taking part in this beautiful tradition that Miss Mary established so many years ago.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has slightly changed how the restaurant operates, with diners seated with their parties at separate tables and food plated rather than passed, Zimbrick says both the sense of community and the restaurant’s charm are still going strong.

“Our walls are filled with images and relics that help us tell our story, and we’re still serving the staples you’d find on your grandmother’s table – things like meatloaf, cornbread and sweet tea, along with our famous candied apples,” Zimbrick says.

Miss Mary Bobo’s doesn’t require reservations, but they are highly recommended. Zimbrick says the holiday season is especially popular, thanks to the restaurant’s traditional holiday meals with festive favorites like chicken and dressing, ham, and sweet potato casserole, and it’s never too early to secure your spot.

“Aside from our incredible Southern food, we’re proud to offer our guests a unique experience, complete with history, storytelling and a sense of family that’s palpable from the moment you walk in the door,” Zimbrick says. “At Miss Mary Bobo’s, there’s a feeling of comfort and warmth that you won’t find anywhere else.”

The Dish on Miss Mary Bobo’s

Location: 295 Main St., Lynchburg

Phone: (931) 759-7394

Web: missmarybobos.com

At the time of publication, Miss Mary Bobo’s is open for lunch Monday through Saturday and seats guests between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For the most up-to-date information, visit facebook.com/missmarybobo.

As always, please call ahead before traveling long distances.

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