Lisa Long, co-owner of Redbud Kitchen, struggles to define her own kitchen and her own style.
“It’s ‘Fresh American’,” she said, shortly before opening for lunch on August 12.
Long and her husband, Wally, opened Redbud Kitchen in late July, breathing new life into a former retail space across from Hi-Wire Brewing. The new South Knoxville restaurant is a sister restaurant to their original Redbud Deli, which they opened in Morristown in 2014.
The menu is easy to navigate and divided into Crave-a-Bowls, Out of Hand, Fork & Knife and Munchies, Sides + Such, as well as Sweet Stuff and a kids’ menu.
What makes it different? “Our Smoky Mountain Meatloaf and Potato Stew is something you would have at a family reunion,” Long said. “But, we put on a ketchup frosting with sriracha aioli; we brighten up the home style food.
“Hillbilly Heap is my guilty pleasure,” laughed Long. “Pimento cheese with roasted red peppers with smoked cheddar, pulled pork and ancho barbecue sauce pressed on a crispy ciabatta is one of my favorite sandwiches,” she said.
The sides also have a twist. “We fry our chips every day in five-pound batches in-house,” Long said. “These are crispy and very filling chips. And I want to eat veg every day, so we also serve roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. “
Long’s staple is the Veg Head Salmon or Chicken Bowl. “It’s my way of eating. It’s bright and beautiful and I want to eat a rainbow every day, ”she said. “I like it – it’s hot toasted aioli, cold crisp, spicy and poppy seed dressing. Long admits that the mixture might look odd on paper, but the flavors – sweet, sour and all of those things that happen in one place sort of work.
“I wasn’t sure if we should put it on the menu, but the team said it was really good and we’re selling as much of it as possible in Morristown,” she said.
Long wasn’t sure people would be adventurous enough to love her cranberry chutney wrap, but this has been another hot seller on her seasonal menu.
“Pretty much everything is our own recipe,” Long said. “We make all of our dressings and condiments, with the exception of Italian dressing.”
While Redbud Kitchen is focused on building their team, they are open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday. “We close at 9 pm all week, 10 pm Friday and Saturday, and 4 pm Sunday so our staff can spend time with their families,” Long said.
The plan is to potentially open Monday through Sunday, offer weekend brunch, happy hour, and food services.
“In Morristown we do a lot of catering – huge salads and sandwiches and platters of wraps,” Long said.
“I think of our food as fuel; I don’t feel weighed down and tired when I eat it, ”she said.
“This area did not have a bar-restaurant and we think we are a good complement to what already exists.”
So far, according to Long, diners have enjoyed the bright and light 120-seat dining room. “I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. I was fortunate to have great people around me to advise, ”she said.
Long lived intermittently in Knoxville and worked in the food industry. “People have asked me why we are opening here, and I said that’s exactly what I’m doing, you can’t stay in one place, you have to grow up,” she said.
South Knoxville caught the attention of the Longs. “It’s so residential, it’s an older community, so it’s good to be a part of the revitalization,” Long said.
Online ordering and the full menu are available at redbudkitchen.com