Gatlinburg, TN

Dining out for My Birthday and Served by a Jerk

John M. Dabbs

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(Photo by @gletham GIS via Creative Commons on Flckr.com)

My wife and I dine out often due to the nature of our work. When special occaisions arise, we typically try and make time for a nice meal at home. On my birthday, time was running short. We ended up having a dual-birthday dinner out with our oldest son.

Gatlinburg - restaurants

There are nearly 100 restaurants in the small town of Gatlinburg. We made the trek from Bristol for the special occaision in hopes of finding something suitable. We have eaten at so many of the local establishments in the Tri-Cities area that we were in need of something differnt - boy did we find it!

I've stayed and eaten at many locations in Gatlinbur over the years, my trips ranging from business to pleasure and family vacations. I've dined at fast-food joints and some of the best fine dining experiences to be had. Our experience this trip was very memorable, for another reason entirely.

Obnoxious even by my standards

My wife led the way - the rest of the family in tow. She found what she proclaimed as a suitable restaurant, just off the main drag. The place was part of complex, but its size took up most of the structure. We waited only a moment for a host to escort us to a table, large enough for our group. Did I mention my parents were with us?

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As luck would have it, we had an excellent table with a nice view of our surroundings and not too close to the kitchen - or bar. A moment later, we were rudely greated by most obnoxious server I'd ever encountered. She ripped a peices of butcher paper from a roll and threw it onto our table to keep us from "damaging it", she said. After askiing us what we'd like to drink she promptly threw a menu to each of us, she was one short and told us to just share.

Welcome to Dick's Last Resort

My wife knew what to expect. She'd given me the vaguest hint of what might be in store, but not the rest of our entourage. My mother was taken-aback, yet my father seemed to just sit back and enjoy the ride. My wife, on the other hand, was thoroughly entertained as she watched everyone's reaction.

A restaurant with an edge

The restaurant is part of a United States restaurant chain with stores located in many vacation cities. They had plans to expand into Europe, opening a store in London, but it did not catch on and those efforts were abondoned. The Londor store was sold in 1996 (according to Wikipedia).

"Dick's" is a bar and restaurant. It is known for the obnoxious wait-staff and their timely shenanigans. In fact, they train thier staff on how to be obnoxious. The half-hearted attempt at decoration is cheeky, in the most fun sense of the word. The picnic type tables are covered with paper for tableclothes. When dining here, you may find yourself looking for a napkin. These are intentionally left off the table so you'll have to ask for them... only to have them thrown at you.

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The servers get into the act and usually get very good at their jobs - giving the customers a hard time. Adult bibs are given to customers, and they are issued hand-made paper hats with demeaning writing. The servers thrive on placing the customers in uncomfortable situations. Our visit was no different.

Our experience

Our dinner fun began when our server made us all hats. She wrote things like "I eat chocolate chips out of the litter box" on my youngest son's hat. More adult type sayings were on the hats of the older members of our group. My mother's had a stripper pole reference.

When my wife told her it was a birthday dinner for me and our oldest, she came back with bowls of whipped cream. She told us the first one to get to the cherry won a prize. With our hands behind our back, be began eating the whipped cream, only to have our faces pushed down into them and our server saying "you loose". She held a cherry between her fingers and promptly ate it.

Such was our experience the rest of the night. It was a lot of fun, especially when after my mom figured out what was going on. We all got in on the act and dished out as good as we received. The food was decent, but nothing to write home about. The "show" however was interactive and worthy of the trip.

History

Dick's began in Dallas, Texas. The original owner, Dick Chase, opened his restaurant with a focus on fine-dining in 1985. White tableclothes and proper servers with fine quisine was elusive for Chase. It failed and he was forced to file for bankruptcy.

Instead of licking his wounds and calling it quite, Chase reinvented his creation. The stuffiness and formality went out the windowl. He decided to "go sloppy." The result was a successful endeavor, and expanding to 17 stores. You might say this effort was Dick's last resort in keeping a restaurant running. Chase used his likeness on advertising items sold from the store. His likeness is still featured on t-shirts and promotional items.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN
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