Gilt Edge Cafe
Greeted with a ‘how are ya?’ by the staff, the decor, and then...it hits you, mmmm... BBQ. Pat Holland has been the owner of Gilt Edge Cafe since 1985. First from ‘85 to ‘97 with her husband, Hutch, and then after leasing the cafe out until 2003, she decided to come back, reclaim the dream, and become pit-master.
West Tennessee has a multitude of BBQ spots that all serve great food, so we had to ask, ‘what makes Gilt Edge Cafe stand out?’. Pat told us some tricks that she uses with the pork butts while they’re smoking, while Jake, Pat’s Son, told us about the smoking rig they use and how it’s more reliable and low-maintenance than other smoking setups. The main thing they both agree on is the fact that they trim the meat, and smoke it low and slow. Jake explained, “you can’t rush barbecue”. Their ribs and pulled pork have a magnificent smoky flavor that shows their BBQ passion. The meat’s not the only star of the show, however, the sauce is also worthy of praise, with a perfectly unique balance of sweetness and spiciness. Developed by Pat, the sauce compliments their meat to perfection.
But they don’t just serve barbeque. They have an amazing breakfast - and you’ve never had pancakes until you sample theirs! Lunchtime sees many, many hamburgers, sandwiches, nachos, salads and much more served. Many of the recipes used in the restaurant are from Pat and her mother who’ve made them for years. The beans, slaw, potato salad, and barbecue sauce are just some examples of homemade favorites that Pat brought from her kitchen’s recipe box to the restaurant. Caramel pie and peanut butter pie are also made in-house, by Catrina Thomas, and are some of the best desserts you can find in the area. The pies are some of Pat’s favorite things that they make. And why? “My goal was to make a meringue that rivaled my mother’s.” And she did accomplish that! Jake’s favorite thing to cook is the meat that they smoke, the shoulders and ribs. They hold their products to a very high level of quality, “We won’t serve anything that we wouldn’t eat ourselves,” finished Jake.
The place is packed to the brim with different antiques, many brought in by repeat customers. When asked about the interior, Jake informed us that the original restaurant didn’t look anything like it does today. Hutch, Pat’s late husband, tore down a barn and had the idea to use the barn wood to cover the brick walls. The walls are not the only thing that Hutch added to the Cafe, he also started the trend of putting antiques on the walls and the showcase at the front of the restaurant. After Hutch’s death in 1997, Pat held an antique auction selling many of the antiques along with an entire warehouse full of antiques that he had collected, but they kept some favorites. One of their favorite things that they have in the showcase is an original Coca-cola serving tray that was actually used at the cafe to carry the soda from table to table in the 50’s. A customer brought them that, along with the original menu. The main antique is the building itself, built in the early 50’s as a restaurant for the workers and the farmers who supported the Gilt Edge Cotton Gin.
Pat attributes the success that her little restaurant has garnered to the outstanding staff that spans three generations. She could not do it without their help, as they have become a family. Along with her son and niece who also help, she also has help from her boyfriend, John McCarthy, around the restaurant with maintenance along with anything else that needs to be done, sometimes even coming to start the ribs at 4:00 in the morning. Eddie Needham is also a big help with the meat. Her staff consists of characters that have worked with her for years to make the restaurant what it is today, including, the recent award winner for best server in Tipton County, Crystal Knight.
Pat’s life has been interesting, she grew up in California and had never had barbecue until she came to West Tennessee, and she kept saying, “This is SOOO good!”. Her family was from here, she visited, met Hutch, and the rest is history. She has her favorite sign on the wall, “Bloom Where You Are Planted” which reminds her of her journey to “Being where I am.”
Gilt Edge Cafe is located at 10448 Highway 59 West, Burlison, TN 38015, and is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11am - 8pm, Friday from 11am - 9pm, and open for Breakfast at 8am on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday closing time is 9pm and on Sunday, they close at 8pm. For more information, visit their facebook page or call 901-476-6446.