By Bethany Anderson
Local cafe and catering company, The Pickled Beet, upgraded from their food truck located at the Crossroads in Shady Valley to the building of a former coffee shop in Downtown Mountain City in the winter of 2018.
Since then, the cafe has been embraced by the community as a more elevated dining experience than the many fast food options around town.
While Chef James Wright’s creations have been welcomed by patrons who frequent the café, the “front of house” is run by Wright’s wife Timbra, adding her own sense of style to the business.
The two have known each other since their days at Johnson County High School and started dating in college. James attended AD Tech, and Timbra studied nursing at ETSU. The two spent the next few years “bouncing around here and there” between different internships and job postings including an internship for major resort group Discovery Land
Co and later management of the Old Mill in Damascus, VA.
The two bought a food truck after the birth of their son. When thinking up a name, they sought inspiration in James’s love of music and his pet project, Cathouse Productions, which put out a mix tape called “Pickled Beets.” Timbra drew the logo, and it all took off from there.
Once the building, which used to house The Coffee House Cafe, became available, they contacted owner Craig Slueder and drew up plans for their new restaurant. Doors opened on December 1, 2018, with a tasting of
their menu available for all to try out the “new guys in town.”
Since it’s opening of the cafe, many have become not only fans, but also regulars. Their past shows through in their love of food and Chef’s abilities in the kitchen. Timbra keeps the desserts and drinks interesting and one-of-a-kind while Chef James keeps the menu varied and full of local flavors.
“He’s always been such a passionate influence in the kitchen,” says Timbra of her husband, Chef James Wright. “He’s seen both sides of it from cooking over a campfire to cooking in state of the art kitchens.”
When asked about their plans for the future the two were excited to share. “We’re planning on a food boat on Watauga Lake,” said James. “It would serve gourmet hot dogs and other artesian takes on simpler foods.”
“We’re also looking into the idea of a kind of Sunday Supper Club.” added wife Timbra. “Longer term–like way, way in the future–we’re looking at plans for our dream of owning a resort style brewery outside of town.”
Timbra added, “One of our favorite things to eat out is tapas style food. James wants to do what he’s calling “Appalachian Tapas” at our place.”
The Pickled Beet Catering Co. and Cafe is shut down for a few weeks while making a few changes to the menu including their addition of more locally sourced foods and ingredients.
Grand re-opening playfully called, “Turnip The Beet” is on Saturday, May 11. Another menu tasting open to the public is also scheduled so that everyone has a chance to try new things and interact with the chef and other staff. There will also be live music to make it a welcoming event for all.
The Pickled Beet Catering Co can be found at 122 S Murphy St in Mountain City, TN. You may reach them by phone at 423-727-0317 or via email at [email protected]