By-Lo Market is a convenient stop for a good breakfast or lunch

Mystery Diner • Feb 5, 2016 at 8:15 AM

Since my work takes me all over east Tennessee, it is no surprise I’m using my car to get where I want to go. My current trip schedule has me covering western Carter County and northeastern Washington County, so you’ll find I’ve been traveling on Watauga Road a lot. This means I’ve had occasion to stop at the By-Lo Market from time to time.

The By-Lo is one of a chain of convenience stores based in Morristown, the Watauga Road store being the only one in Johnson City. This is your classic roadside convenience store selling everything from gasoline, (with or without ethanol), live bait (the store’s close to the Watauga River) lottery tickets (I’ve played — haven’t won yet) plus all sorts of snacks, sodas, beer, cold remedies and jerky. To paraphrase an old saying, “If you can’t find it at the By-Lo, you didn’t need it anyway.” The place is run by Donna and her team of stalwarts who see to their customers (regular or otherwise) with efficiency and a smile.

One such dispenser of smiles goes by the (nick?) name of Scooby who also dispenses all sorts of delicious things to eat from the By-Lo grill and deli counter. Folks, I am here to tell you that this man makes some of the best breakfast biscuits in town. The store opens at 5:30 in the a.m. but friend Scooby has been busy long before then. He’s been getting ready for a morning breakfast rush that can last until 10 a.m. It truly is a rush. I’ve been part of it.

My favorite By-Lo breakfast delicacy is Scooby’s incomparable sausage biscuit ($1.39) unadorned with cheese (40 cents extra) or egg (also 40 cents extra.) All that’s needed is a dab of grape jelly. You can buy a jar of it from the shelf behind you. How’s that for convenience? The pork tenderloin biscuit ($1.99) or the country ham biscuit ($1.89) are both excellent. I put a couple drops of hot sauce on each to knock the chill off these winter mornings. If biscuits are not your idea of morning fare, try a By-Lo breakfast sandwich. Egg on toast is $1.79 and you can add any other kind of protein such as bacon ($3.19), chicken ($3.69) or steak ($3.89). If you are really hungry, just add a side order of six slices of bacon for a couple bucks and a plain biscuit to display their stacked-up bacony goodness for just 79 cents more.

As mentioned earlier, breakfast is served until 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. After that, the regular menu is in force, where Scooby and his fellow cooks’ mastery of the short order is put to the test. All manner of sandwiches are available, the best being their Philly cheese steak sandwich ($4.59, cheese included) a good-sized offering of grilled sliced steak, onions, green pepper strips and American cheese. If you are dieting, lose the cheese and pay just $4.19. Another of my favorites is the turkey melt, ($3.49) sliced turkey, lettuce, onion, tomato and melted cheese on grilled white or whole wheat bread. Burgers from By-Lo are also very good, the best being their double bacon burger, a $4.89 double handful that’ll tame that bacon and burger craving of yours very quickly.

By-Lo also makes some excellent hot wings (6 pc./$4.49 or 9 pc./$6.69). You can get your hot sauce by the packet or buy a bottle of the real stuff from Donna. Their fryer gets a workout creating such delicacies as chicken tenders (4 pc./ $3.69) fried pickles (5 pc./$3.69) and (top of the list), some of the best fried mushrooms you’ll ever put in your mouth ($2.99). Sadly, By-Lo has dropped the 8 pc. deep-fried macaroni & cheese bites from the menu. Just the thing for a cold day’s snack is By-Lo’s bacon & cheese French fries ($3.79), and you’d better come hungry before ordering this one.

One thing more. The By-Lo Market is truly a convenience store for the residents and businesses of northeast Johnson City. (The Pepsi Cola plant’s front gate is just around the corner from By-Lo’s gas pumps.) Consider that the next nearest restaurant (a diner) is quite away off, near the junction of Broadway at East Main Street. This means a considerable number of your friends and neighbors are buying their meals and sundries over at the By-Lo Market. You entrepreneurs out there might think on this the next time you are enjoying one of Scooby’s breakfast biscuits. Don’t forget the grape jelly.

By-Lo Market

2307 Watauga Road

Johnson City


Open daily

Grill and Deli hours:

Mon – Fri 5:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (8 p.m. in summer)

Breakfast 5:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted

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