Begun as the Garber Mill in the 1820s the Campbell Mill was in the business of grinding wheat, corn and what-have-you for local farmers for almost 160 years. Though the mill portion of the property closed in 1988, the community store has continued to do business under several names and proprietors. The latest has brought the name Campbell back to this location, for it is John Campbell, formerly proprietor Johnson City’s Downtown Grocery, who has made it business as usual once more at the little store on Cherokee Road.
In addition to two gas pumps out front, Campbell’s Market has a good quantity of convenience store foods and supplies for the “Gas Up, Grab-it-and-Go” customers. John Campbell has added a lunch counter and delicatessen to the store, and together with his counter man Shawn makes some of the best-prepared and tastiest Southern-style comfort food anywhere. Just how good my dining partner and I found out on a recent Saturday. We were driving back from and early morning swoop through the produce markets lining Tenn. Highway 107 when my dining partner announced she was hungry for breakfast and could we stop somewhere? Her declaration coincided with her spotting the words “Biscuits & Gravy” on a sign in front of the Campbell Market. Knowing a good thing when my dining partner sees it, I pulled into the store’s parking lot and we both ambled inside. Mr. Campbell himself greeted us and invited us to have a seat at one of the six tables in the store’s dining area, then took our breakfast orders then and there.
Biscuits & Gravy platter
My dining partner was not kidding about being hungry. As she sat there in her chair considering her breakfast options, my dining partner’s calm and level-headed attitude was beginning to verge on the feral. After due consideration my partner chose the biscuit & gravy platter, together with two eggs over medium well (as usual) and two strips of lean, crispy-fried center-cut bacon ($3.99). Though Shawn makes all of the meals at Campbell’s Market to order, he was able to place my dining partner’s platter in front of her in just under ten minutes. Though a bit salty, the gravy was made from honest pan drippings together with a crumble of cooked pork sausage mixed in, Her biscuit was scratch-made, not commissary, and delicious. The bacon was very good and as for the eggs, well, my dining partner has found in Shawn another cook in the area that knows how to cook fried eggs over medium well, just the way she likes them. Add in a cup of Campbell’s Market coffee and my dining partner’s morning just kept getting better and better.
Campbell’s Breakfast Sandwich
Though not as ravenous as my dining partner, I wanted something that had all four of the food groups that are common to a good breakfast. This I found in a Campbell’s Market breakfast sandwich ($4.99). Between two slices of toasted white bread I found a fried egg cooked over easy topped with some American cheese and two large slices of the aforementioned crispy bacon, each broken into several pieces and stacked up on the cheese. While thinking all I needed was some grape jam to spread on my toast and make my breakfast sandwich complete, Shawn arrived with some grape jam, a spoon to spread it on with, and a parting smile in response to my “How did you know?” A glance at my dining partner got me a smile and a wink that let me know her breakfast was just as good as mine was.
Campbell’s Market, John Campbell and Shawn are a welcome addition to a community that is smart enough to know when they’ve got a good thing going here. Breakfast at Campbell’s Market is positively scrumptious and from what I have heard, Campbell & Co. has some seriously delicious lunch-time options as well. They have honest-to-Pete Nathan’s hot dogs, use Boar’s Head meats & cheeses to make a classic Reuben sandwich, an equally good Philly Cheese Steak, are locally famous for an out-of-this-world cheeseburger, and will soon be serving “broasted” chicken with (be still my heart) the Henny Penny breading.
Campbell’s Market gets a “Recommended” from the Mystery Diner.
Need I say more, folks?
Campbell’s Market & Deli
4851 Cherokee Road
Mon 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue-Sat 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Credit cards accepted