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Some local doors close as others prepare to open

Tributary closing
After seven years on Main Street, The Tributary Restaurant has closed to focusmore on catering. Photo by Jill Penley.

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

While walls are being erected in the construction of two new fast food restaurants in Mountain City, two family-owned restaurants, considered staples in the downtown area, are closed or preparing to close. When Craig and Raina Sluder purchased the lovely little cottage near Mountain City Elementary School facing Murphy Street, it was hard to imagine it housing a specialty coffee shop, but it was soon transformed into a cozy little spot to enjoy not only one’s favorite brew but a nice lunch with friends.

“It looks like the coffee shop will serve its last cup this month,” said Melody Grayson, who has owned and managed the Coffee House Café for the past ten years. “We have had some wonderful staff and met some great friends over the years.”

According to Grayson, the owners have decided to put the house on the market, and while opening in another location has not been completely ruled out, she reports difficulty in finding a suitable and affordable place to rent.

“I would certainly like to thank everyone who has supported us the past few years,” said Grayson.

In 2010, Aleta and Ron Higgins opened The Tributary Restaurant on Church Street. After relocating to the mountains of East Tennessee from Connecticut, it seemed natural to open a restaurant. Behind Chef Ron’s culinary expertise and Aleta’s organization and management skills, The Tributary quickly became the place to go for “great food in a rustic mountain atmosphere.”As the restaurant’s popularity grew, space became limited, and the couple relocated to Main Street, where they could offer more seating, a private dining room, and a full salad bar.

While always offering catering, a few years ago, that aspect of the business started flourishing making it increasingly difficult to keep up with the demands of the restaurant and the special catering events.