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Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017

Picturing the Past 117: Original Hobble House

Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011, at 3:09 PM

Shelbyville's original Hobble House at its grand opening in early fall 1966. (T-G file photo)
A restaurant known as the Hobble House, which I guess was a successor to the ones on North Main Street over the years, was just replaced by a restaurant of another name on the first floor of the Gunter Building.

But here's a look at the original Hobble House, a Shelbyville institution for years, on its grand opening at its first North Main Street location. Not sure of the exact date it opened, but this was for the "grand opening" advertisement published Sept. 30, 1966.

The ad mentioned "homemade pies, cream waffles, charbroiled steaks and charbroiled hamburgers."

Was the Hobble House originally part of a chain? I Googled the name and only the Shelbyville location comes up.

The Hobble House moved from this building, which now houses Ernie Cook & Son Motors, to a building across the street which has since been torn down. I'm thinking the later location, which operated until a few years ago, was a remodeled ex-gas station.

And I always notice the cars. Look near the front door. Someone sure had a nice Porsche 911.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

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who dis?

I am the third party in the boat you fell out of. Good to hear from you again, been a long time. I've thought of you all many times through the years, but lost contact after your Dad passed away. His passing was some of the saddest news I ever heard.

If you would like to communicate off post contact David Melson at the T-G and he can give you my e-mail address.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sat, Apr 28, 2012, at 11:18 PM

ilikeoldsongs....not since I was about,um 11? who dis?

-- Posted by mdstover on Sat, Apr 28, 2012, at 9:56 PM


Still falling out of river boats?

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sat, Apr 28, 2012, at 7:53 PM

I have been looking at these incredible pictures from afar,with many a memory returning to me.I know I am a little late on this photo,but it struck a chord.My mother worked at the original Hobble House I believe in 1968-1970,with a short stint at the Murfreesboro location.Her name was Wilma Stover,nee Grammer.The manager of this location also did double duty in Murfreesboro.Can't remember his name,though.

-- Posted by mdstover on Sat, Apr 28, 2012, at 7:02 PM

I've eaten many a meal at the Hobble House. My personal favorite was the whole channel fried catfish. Absolutely delicious!

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Sat, Jul 9, 2011, at 2:01 AM

Thanks for the clarification on the other Hobble House in Murfreesboro. I wasn't sure if it was actually a chain or not but thought I remembered there being another one somewhere.

-- Posted by David Melson on Thu, Jul 7, 2011, at 1:29 PM

David that is the original Hobble House owned by Joesph T. Priester , he had another restaurant in Murfreesboro going out 231 to Lebanon...Mr. Priester was from Florence Ala...He passed away in Sept Of 76 on his 1st day of vacation after the horse show.....Jack Utz came in and rented the building from Mac Palmer until 1982 or 83 when they moved the business accross the street to the old shell station that Garner Warren ran for yrs...The house next door in the picture is where Hootie Mae Wilhoite and her family lived in the 70's...i worked at the Hobble House for 5 yrs yrs...I basically grew up in that place along with Jacks kids..

-- Posted by doolittleraised on Thu, Jul 7, 2011, at 12:27 PM

Steve it is sad that the day of "a man's word is his bond" have all gone bye bye. I can remember that as late as the 70s I bought vehicles or got a bank loan on a handshake.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jul 7, 2011, at 11:39 AM

Handshake deals. How nice it would be if we could see more of that.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jul 7, 2011, at 11:07 AM

I did an interview with the Freys, who owned the Saddle back in the day, soon after I joined the paper in 1985. They still remembered making the handshake deal with Col. Sanders.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Jul 7, 2011, at 7:37 AM

Jicarney that is some good history research. I had completely forgotten that the Saddle Restaurant had at one time offered KFC.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jul 7, 2011, at 7:04 AM

There was also a "Hobby House" chain in the Midwest -- I never saw one, but that was one of the places Dave Thomas worked before founding Wendy's, and he wrote about it in his autobiography.

There were several restaurants in the chain that were losing money, and the owner of the chain told Thomas, who was just an employee, that if he could turn those locations around he could have a share in them.

Dave noted that the restaurants did a brisk business in Harlan Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken, which at that time was just a menu item sold at a variety of participating restaurants. (The Saddle Restaurant in Shelbyville was just the second such restaurant in Tennessee to carry KFC.)

Dave Thomas decided that the Hobby House restaurants he was trying to fix needed to concentrate on just selling the chicken. So he took everything off the menu except the fried chicken and the side dishes that went with it. He took down the "Hobby House" signs outside the restaurant and put up signs that just said "Kentucky Fried Chicken," including a sign in the shape of a bucket of chicken which he had to get specially made.

Sure enough, the restaurants turned into a rousing success. The owner of the chain was as good as his word and gave Dave Thomas an ownership share in those locations. Soon, other KFC franchisees had followed suit, and KFC eventually became a chain of chicken-only franchise restaurants rather than just a franchised specialty product.

A few years later, after John Y. Brown and his partners had bought KFC from Colonel Sanders, the company bought the restaurants from Dave and his boss for a hefty price, putting Dave in the financial position that eventually allowed him to start Wendy's.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 10:57 PM

I think it is Ernie Cook's building. I checked the photo vs. his building on Google street view and the shape's exactly alike. Look from the side. The newer Hobble House, on the east side of the street, was at an angle of the older one.

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 6:24 PM

mytaxesaremine that area has changed so many times through the years that my feeble mind is not able to keep up with all of them. You may be right about this.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 5:00 PM

Thats him David.I thought for 30 minutes and could not come up with his name.I just remember Charlie's name because he was always saying something funny.David I just thought I think that that is not Earnie Cooks building is it? That Hobble House set at an angle to the left of The one across the street.

-- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 4:21 PM

Henry Shapard's Porsche. Thanks. I remember seeing it around town for years, probably into the 1980s. It was green.

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 4:05 PM

Leeiii I thought the station next to Dials was George Tunes 76 station.I do remember Garner Warren having the Shell station where the old Hobble House was,but I can't remember if Earl was in there with him or not.

-- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 4:04 PM

The Porsche would be Mr Shapard's I cant remember his first name,but I remember his brother Charlie.They were part of Whiteside Shapard Insurance and lived down the road next to the Blue Ribbon Inn.The house is still there and belongs to the Catholic Church.They both eat there all the time.I question this being the original Hobble House.I'm thinking the original one was across the road.They moved to this location because of a rent dispute or something,and then moved back across the road later.Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

-- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 3:57 PM

David, I am not sure whether or not it was part of a chain. Hobble House was not a name that I was familiar with except in Shelbyville. I think that the service station you mention was at one time a Shell station and at one time it was operated by Earl Hittson, and was beside Dial's Super Market.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 3:54 PM

David, the Restaurant Chain with a similar name is " Huddle House " which are scattered across the Southeast...I wish I had a nickle for every meal my friends Gail and Ernest Limbo have eaten there....

-- Posted by FlaDon on Wed, Jul 6, 2011, at 3:53 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.