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Era ends on West Walnut: Poor Richard's closes again

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Jun 6, 2017 at 6:31 PM

An off-campus institution that fed and entertained East Tennessee State University and Johnson City residents for years has closed again.

Poor Richard’s Deli had offered steamed sandwiches and sweet tea for more than 30 years at 825 W. Walnut St., just a block from the campus. After a change in ownership, the deli closed for a time earlier this decade.

It reopened under new ownership in 2013, returning the Hardy Hoagie, RB’s Delight, The General and, of course, a cup of Maxine’s Finest Iced Tea to the site near University Parkway. Daniel Shell, a former bar manager of the restaurant, and his wife, Donna Vitoux, brought the restaurant back to life.

“It’s going to go back, as close as I can get it, to the original menu the way it was in the mid-80s and ’90s. We’re going to put a twist on some things and make some more modern stuff, but we’re still going to have the same sandwiches,” Shell said at the time.

But now vacant, the building is up for sale.

Despite the departure of the original Poor Richard’s near ETSU, Phyllis Taber, the owner and operator of the unaffiliated Poor Richard’s Uptown Deli location on West State of Franklin Road, is still carrying on the Poor Richard’s name. And it’s not far from ETSU.

Taber’s establishment, which is the last remaining Poor Richard’s location of three in town, is still running strong since moving from its location on Mountcastle Drive in 2015 and changing the name back to Poor Richard’s after briefly being known as Uptown’s Fresh Deli.

Both locations shared one thing in common — a strategic business location. Taber’s establishment is located near Johnson City Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the original location was within walking distance of ETSU’s main campus.

The original building has a sale price of $559,000.

For more information on this property listing, contact the TCI Group at 423-915-0911.

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