Like the TV show Cheers’ theme song, “a place where everybody knows your name,” there is a small café at 356 E. Main Street in Pleasant Hill that has been a gathering place for young and old for many years. Linda’s Coffee Shop, owned and managed by Linda Smith for 39 years, is the place to go to find out anything that is worth knowing about in Pleasant Hill. There are always cars parked in front and nearby even during this time of COVID-19 restrictions. If you are worried about social distancing you can order online at www.restaurantji.com/tn/pleasant-hill/lindas-coffee-shop-/ or call 931-277-3663. You may pick up your order or have someone bring it to your car. There is the breakfast crowd — workers in a hurry, retirees dawdling over coffee and conversation. Coffee break crowd might be any time night or day. Lunchtime customers check out Linda’s specials because most of them know the menu by heart. There’s often a crowd at dinnertime. Linda’s is open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. seven days a week. And Linda is there most of that time, cooking, cleaning, changing menus, conversing, or checking supplies.
Probably the cheeseburger “with the works” is the most popular item, but you have to try the “whatchamacallit.” It’s a menu item that defies description because it contains every item of breakfast food that is imaginable. Thermoses of coffee or hot water for tea are placed on the breakfast crowds’ tables so they can help themselves. The wait staff fill the coffee cups and bring the regulars what they know they’ll want. You don’t get a bill. You just tell one of them what you had and she figures it out and collects the money from you. Some of the regular customers fill the cooler in the morning, make coffee, and sometimes wait on tables if the staff is busy — even wash dishes. As Linda says, “We are all family here.”
Several years ago there were two brothers who met often for lunch. One flew his private plane from Chattanooga, landed at the Crossville Airport where the other brother picked him up and brought him to Linda’s. Some of Pleasant Hill’s local artists like Findley Brown, Thom Eckert and Erika Wilson (Linda’s granddaughter) display their artwork on the walls and sometimes even sell it. Linda has lived in Pleasant Hill all of her life, growing up just around the corner on Cottage Street. She is the vice mayor of the Pleasant Hill Town Council. Before buying the restaurant she drove disabled children to their schools and worked for 10 years at Wharton Nursing Home in Pleasant Hill. Linda has two children and six grandchildren.
In the early days the Sylvanus Suttle family owned grocery stores and gristmills in several places along Main Street in Pleasant Hill. The two-story Suttle store, post office and lodge hall was located where the present Town Hall is on Main Street. A smaller store was built across the road — the building now occupied by Linda’s Coffee Shop. One of the Suttle sons, Hasckel, operated the store until his retirement in 1976. He sold the store to Newt Iles of Pleasant Hill, who operated it under the Suttle name until Linda bought it in 1981. She turned it into a restaurant, often remodeling with a major renovation in 2008, so little other than the foundation and outer walls remain. My family from metropolitan areas of New Jersey, New York and California were not happy unless they had at least one meal at Linda’s when they came to visit, even though my California son said it took him two weeks to work off the “whatchamacallit.” Let’s hope that Linda’s “family” continues to congregate in this special place for a long time to come.