Ridgewood Founder Dies

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sauceman
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2003/03/31 08:59:20 (permalink)

Ridgewood Founder Dies

Grace Proffitt, the matriarch of The Ridgewood Barbecue, near Bluff City, Tennessee, has died. Her son Larry and granddaughter Lisa will continue to run the business. Included below is Grace's obituary from The Johnson City Press.

Fred Sauceman
East Tennessee State University

Mrs. Grace R. Proffitt - ELIZABETHTON
ELIZABETHTON — Mrs. Grace Reynolds Proffitt, 85, Elizabethton, formerly of 900 Old Elizabethton Highway, Bluff City, died Saturday, March 29, 2003, at Sycamore Shoals Hospital following a lengthy illness. She was a South Carolina native and a daughter of the late Roy J. and Beulah Reynolds. Mrs. Proffitt was a member of Memorial Presbyterian Church. She had been owner and operator of Ridgewood Barbecue since 1948. Mrs. Proffitt was preceded in death by her husband, James B. Proffitt; one son, C. Terry Proffitt; and one sister, Doris Whittimore. Survivors include one son, Larry M. Proffitt, Elizabethton; two brothers, Roy J. Reynolds Jr., Atlanta, and Ralph G. Reynolds, Johnson City; three granddaughters, Lisa Peters, Rebecca Wilkins and Julie Proffitt, all of Elizabethton; three great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

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    Michael Stern
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/03/31 10:18:20 (permalink)
    Thanks for the news, Sauceman. I raise a toast to woman who left a wonderful legacy, now admirably upheld by her descendants. Mrs. Proffitt was never a "celebrity chef" in the media sense, but she was a pillar of real American food. I was lucky enough to have met her way-back-when, about a quarter century ago, when she presided over her barbecue with hospitality, dignity, and warmth. She's someone who made the world a better -- and more delicious -- place.
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    mayor al
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/03/31 11:23:03 (permalink)


    Rest In Peace, and thank you for the happiness you brought thousands of hungry travelers.
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    mudbug
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/03/31 17:39:47 (permalink)
    So sorry to hear of the passing of Mrs.Proffitt.I plan to finally go to the Ridgewood on my way back north from Jazzfest in New Orleans come early May.Can anyone give me the definitive directions from I-81? Take I-181S to TN 381.Left on 11E/19W/34.Go right on Rte.37 and then what?Is the address 900 Old Elizabethton Rd. or 900 Elizabethton Rd.?Is it a left off of Rte. 37 or a right just a bit further down the road.?Thanks so much and God bless Mrs.Proffitt.
    #4
    Michael Stern
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/03/31 17:42:28 (permalink)
    Getting lost -- for us, anyway -- has always been the preliminary course before a Ridgewood feast.
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    mudbug
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/03/31 17:54:23 (permalink)
    Generally I would agree with you,Michael.However,the Ridgewood falls at the 710 mile point in a looong 1150 mile day.The more I get lost the longer the day for me.As it is now I get to Grantville,PA about 9:30-10:00.
    #6
    sauceman
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/03/31 18:07:24 (permalink)
    Well said, Michael. When I took my Southern Foodways class to The Ridgewood last fall for their one and only "field trip," Larry Proffitt assured us that the family had no intention of abandoning hickory wood and smoke. Regarding directions, as it is for many places in these mountains, there are four or five ways to get there. For Roadfood readers who have the time, I'd suggest taking Highway 400 out of Johnson City. It is gorgeous country, and you pass, on the way, the St. John Mill, the oldest business in Tennessee still in operation, dating to the late 18th century. Watauga, through which you pass, is one of the very oldest settlements around here. If anyone needs directions through that part of the countryside, e-mail me at: sauceman@xtn.net.

    Fred Sauceman
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    mayor al
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/03/31 19:00:06 (permalink)
    Fred,
    We are going to side trip on our Flea Market trip to Sweetwater TN this coming weekend. Can you give us the weekend hours...and directions coming up I-81 from the SW? I can't think of a better way to pay my respects than to pay homage at the place she called home. we stopped there one time years ago, but I haven't been back in over 25 years. Thanks for your help.
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    JimInKy
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/12/29 07:11:03 (permalink)
    I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Proffitt on my first visit to Ridgewood in 1984. I would always speak with her on return visits. She reminded me of my mom who ran and worked hard in her own fine restaurant for 38 years.

    Mrs. Proffitt was a hard-working woman; I don't ever remember seeing her not working. I do remember making to the restaurant one winter's night just before closing (20 years ago when they locked the doors at 9). As we were finishing our meals along with a group of state troopers, I saw Mrs. Proffitt and the waitresses sit down to eat some supper. It was near 10.

    She was a modest, hard working, salt-of-the-earth honest soul.

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    Poverty Pete
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/12/29 20:37:45 (permalink)
    The first time I went to the Ridgewood, I was driving my 18 wheeler. Great food, but I seem to remember having to park something like a mile or so down the road. The exercise made for a good appetizer.
    #10
    JimInKy
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    RE: Ridgewood Founder Dies 2003/12/30 00:17:03 (permalink)
    Pete, My hat is off to you for finding that parking space. I have some pictures here of Ridgewood's parking lot and I can't see how you could have done better.

    As a lot of folks have trouble finding Ridgewood, here are directions to Ridgewood (I have them typed up):

    DIRECTIONS: Finding Ridgewood can present a challenge, which is why their business cards and carryout menus are printed with a map. The State of Tennessee won’t allow signs along the right-of-way to help customers find it.

    From I-81: Exit the Interstate at Bristol, Va. or Johnson City, Tn. Then get on Hwy 11-E which connects the two cities. Go to the junction (where there is a traffic signal) with New 19-E (to Elizabethton). Turn onto New 19-E and go approx. 1½ miles to Old 19-E, aka Old Elizabethton Highway (there’s a service station on the left side of New 19 E about where you turn onto Old 19 E and there will be a very small highway sign with the road's name). Turn right and proceed a half-mile. Ridgewood is on the right; you can't miss it.

    Note that some maps do not include Old 19E, or the road isn’t labeled. While the business card gives Bluff City as the address, Ridgewood is out in the country, some distance from the town.
    #11
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