The Cookie Jar Cafe may be "in the middle of nowhere," but it is packing 'em in.
Fans are willing to drive "a fur piece" to get to rock in the rockers and enjoy the spectacular view of the lovely Sequatchie Valley, take in the ever-interesting petting zoo, examine the latest additions to the collection of dozens of cookie jars, then dig in on the delicious home cooking.
The Cookie Jar was born after Jimmy and Debra Johnson decided in 2001 to sell the farm near Dunlap - parts of which had been in the family for a century and a half. The daughters, Peggy Farley, Bonnie Hudson and Sue Ann Lockhart, didn't like the idea, and they began brainstorming to try to find some way to keep it.
They came up with the plan of a hillside cafe using the delicious recipes their mom had cooked by down through the years. A cookie jar collection quickly grew, and a kids' play area and collection of interesting farm animals topped it off.
The Cookie Jar Cafe was ready to open in September 2002. The other sisters eventually returned to their prior jobs, but Sue Ann has kept it going in a big way. She is helped by a faithful crew, who serve lunch and dinner every day of the week except Monday.
The wide menu includes appetizers, soup and salads, sandwiches, entrees and sides. Entrees include hamburger steaks, rib eye steaks, pork chops, pork rib eye, tilapia, grilled chicken, chicken tenders, catfish, popcorn shrimp and spaghetti. For sides, there's deviled eggs, slaw, pinto beans, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, french fries, creamed corn, mac and cheese, green beans, turnip greens, white beans, hush puppies, fried okra, pickled beets, potato salad, Mexican cornbread salad, cottage cheese, apple sauce, peaches, slided tomatoes and cranberry sauce. Throw in homemade rolls and made from scratch desserts, including pies, cakes and cupcakes.
There are still no signs (except right when you get there) - and quite a few turns - to get "off the beaten path" to the Cookie Jar Cafe. But its longtime patrons have learned it is worth the drive and the wait.
From Chattanooga, take Highway 111 near Soddy Daisy. Cross the mountain, then take the East Valley Road exit. Go north on East Valley Road, then take a left on Kelly Cross Road.
The address is 1887 Kelly Cross Road, Dunlap. Phone 423-949-5852.
The Cookie Jar Cafe is on central time.