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For Jarrod Ellis, J's Corner isn't just a burger joint

Mystery Diner • Jul 19, 2018 at 7:00 PM

With the weather turning sunny and warm, one of the events that the dine-around bunch and I like to attend is Elizabethton's Classic Car Cruise In. Informally held each Saturday during the months of April through October, the event draws participants from Canada to California. Naturally, the local citizenry applaud their movable display of artistic and engineering excellence, none more so than Mr. Jarrod Ellis, proprietor of a real shrine of "Cruising" era perfection. J's Corner has been a landmark of downtown Elizabethton since the ’60s. Ellis' easy-going and friendly nature plus his rigorous attention to customer satisfaction has made J's Corner the place for cruisers (and anyone else) to stop in for a bite. Talking with him, you realize that this is a man committed to seeing that his business is not just successful, but the best in every respect.

Exterior

The restaurant's ’60s-era glass and steel construction at the corner of South Lynn Avenue and East Elk Avenue is close to the action (cruising or otherwise) in downtown Elizabethton. There is plenty of parking and a big covered patio that extends the restaurant's friendly reach to the street corner itself. Being classically old-school, there is no drive-thru window. You must park, get out of your car, and come inside.

Interior

In addition to the several tables out on the patio, there is inside seating for 20 customers at five tables, each with four chairs, and a lunch counter with four stools. The order line forms to the left in front of a take-out counter that, like the rest of the interior, is lined with automobile license plates that are from other places and other times. There are several blackboards posted above and to the side of the counter area, each displaying its portion of the J's Corner menu for all to see.

Cheeseburger & Fries

Our friend the Retiree went totally classic on us, ordering her J's Corner favorite, a cheeseburger done "all the way" with a side order of French fries and a bottled soft drink from the cooler ($7.19). Our friend wanted her cheeseburger cooked medium (as in "no pink inside") and that is the way it was delivered to her. The French fries found at J's Corner are (obviously) crinkle-cut fries purchased in bulk from a commissary. Though cooked properly and doused with the amount of salt requested by the Retiree, the fries could have been so much better if fresh-cut on site rather than hauled out by the frozen handful from a cardboard box. Just something to think about.

Barbecue Salad

The Carnivore and the Dieter's "animated conversation" (translation: "argument") on the drive over about his not getting enough vegetables in his diet continued at a lower volume once it was their turn to order. Adopting a conciliatory attitude, the Carnivore ordered a barbecue salad and a drink ($6.29). This turned out to be some chopped iceberg lettuce tossed into a salad with sectioned red tomatoes and sliced onions, all of which was topped with shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and a good quantity of J's Corner pulled pork barbecue. Not taking any chances that his salad would be doused with diet salad dressing, the Carnivore made a grab for our table's barbecue sauce bottle and gave his salad a good squirt. Showing a brave martyr's grin to the rest of us, he picked up his fork and had at it. I can say that my friend's meal did not consist solely of his eating just the pulled pork barbecue and shredded cheese toppings; no, there were occasional fronds of lettuce that crossed his palate, though most were disguised with barbecue sauce. He did wind up eating his vegetables, though there was a lot of greenery left on his plate.

Chicken Philly Sandwich

The Dieter's having counted her calories earlier in the day paid off with her splurging on a Chicken Philly sandwich ($5.99) from the "Taste of Philly" portion of the menu. Counterman James Weir took special care with my friend's sandwich, making sure that the coarsely chopped white meat chicken was properly sautéed with grilled onions, and that (per her request) there was a reduced quantity of provolone cheese melted and added on before the sandwich was oven-toasted. The result was a chicken Philly sandwich customized the Dieter's way, as only Weir and Co. could do it, and positively scrumptious.

Bacon Cheeseburger & Fries

My dining partner told our friend the Retiree that the classic cheeseburger was a good start, and ordered her cheeseburger as a bacon cheeseburger with all the trimmings, plus fries and a drink ($7.58). My partner's burger arrived tableside with the sliced onions, lettuce and bacon sticking out from the burger bun at all angles. This was caused by someone in back pushing down on the burger bun with enough force to leave their finger imprints on the bun's lid. Thankfully, her French fries had not received this treatment, but the compression made maneuvering her bacon cheeseburger a two-handed task for my dining partner.

BLT w/Onion Rings

Wanting something light, I chose the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich ($3.29) with an a la carte side order of fried onion rings ($2.19). Once again, the staff did not disappoint. My sandwich was four strips of lean, smoked bacon, crisp lettuce shreds and a big slice of red, ripe tomato all between two slices of grilled sourdough bread. The fried onions were excellent, being doubled-dipped in their lightly-seasoned batter and then deep fried until golden brown. They were crunchy on the outside, hot and flavorful on the inside. Though a dose of ketchup was warranted, I found that the J's Corner barbecue sauce made the fried onion rings that much more savory, and the sauce wasn't bad on the BLT, either.

Conclusion

Not everyone can say about their job that they enjoy what they do. Jarrod Ellis doesn't have to say it, he lives it every day as proprietor of J's Corner restaurant, and it shows. His friendly and helpful attitude assures the hungry customers who daily flock (cruise?) to his door that they will be getting the best that J's Corner has to offer each and every time. Mr. "J." Ellis has truly made this special corner of Elizabethton, "J's Corner."

J's Corner

102 South Lynn Avenue

Elizabethton, Tennessee

547-3300

Daily except Sunday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Available on Facebook and at

www.eatatjscorner.com

Credit cards accepted

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