Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Memories of Kingsport: Pal's Hotdogs

For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to do a mini-series on the highlights of my hometown. Since Song From the Ashes is set in Kingsport, I thought it might be nice to give everyone a little glimpse into the town and the many amenities it has to offer.


I'm really proud to call Kingsport, Tennessee my hometown, as it's a beautiful and charming small town (population around 50,000) positioned along the Holston River.

For those who aren't sure where Kingsport is located, it's in the Northeast corner of the state bordering Virginia (The Tri-Cities area containing Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City).

Kingsport was my home until I was twelve or thirteen, and I remember the years I lived there as some of the happiest of my life. Summers were the best! Horsebackriding, swimming, and bike riding with friends are some of my fondest memories, but right alongside those fun activities, eating Pal's hotdogs ranks near the top of the list.

Fastfood Series

Pal's is a local Tri-Cities area chain that started up in 1956 by Pal Barger--a brilliant businessman who had an innovative idea about "sudden service" restaurants. (Interestingly, before opening Pal's, he'd met with McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, who had a similar idea about fast food service). Pal Barger also owned a fine-dining steak restaurant, and he used the same source of meat for his burgers, and later his hotdog chili.

Pal's was, and continues to be a huge success in the Tri-Cities area. Although asked to nationalize the chain, Mr. Barger preferred to keep the chain restricted to this little corner of Tennessee/Virginia, where it spread from one tiny operation in the center of Kingsport into twenty-six locations around the area.

In my humble opinion, no other hotdog touches the Almighty Pal's dog. They also serve wonderful hamburgers, sauceburgers, chicken sandwiches, and milkshakes, but I always get the same thing: two hotdogs, one Frenchie Fry, and an unsweetened ice tea (and the tea is so large you can sip on it all day long). My aunt and uncle have friends who visit from out of town occasionally, and when they do, they bring a large Igloo cooler and fill it up with Pal's hotdogs. Then they take them home and freeze them. They're that good.

So if you're passing through Northeast Tennessee, be sure you stop off at Pal's for a meal. I highly recommend visiting the original location on Revere Street if you can; otherwise, there are twenty-five other locations to choose from.

Check out their website!

Any other hotdog fans out there?


  1. Neat series you are doing. I do like hot dogs. I would have to visit Pat's if I was in that area. I like how he didn't take it national but kept it local so to speak. Looked like a nice area you call your hometown :)


    1. Thanks, Betty. I've always liked that about him, too (that he didn't go national with it). He still lives in the area. Both of my sisters used to work for Pal's when they were teenagers, and they always said it was a top-notch operation.

  2. So cool! I know I'll pass through Northeast TN at at some point in my life, since I live in Nashville. I'll definitely make a point to visit Pal's along the way!