BRISTOL, Va. — On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, I stopped in the bright-colored cafe of MeMe’s Diner on West State Street. And I was instantly taken with the airy feel of this eatery in downtown Bristol, Virginia.
MeMe’s Diner opened during August in the former location of Lilley’s, a longtime market known for its news-stand.
How to find it: Look across the state line from the Bill Gatton car dealership.
Ruby Lamb started cooking here just in time for the races at Bristol Motor Speedway. More recently, she said she had a booming business following the Bristol Christmas Parade in December.
“We done awesome,” said Lamb, 53.
This restaurant owner places much emphasis on an all-day breakfast, especially biscuits.
And, yes, breakfast is a meal Lamb knows, having cooked for a couple of years at Big John’s, a convenience store and eatery at Greendale, Virginia, on the outskirts of Abingdon.
In 2018, Lamb moved about 20 miles from Big John’s to MeMe’s.
But that’s no distance compared to getting back to where she grew up in Buchanan County, Virginia, at Jewell Valley.
These days, in Bristol, Lamb’s 36-year-old daughter, Jessica Mitchell, works at MeMe’s Diner.
“And if I had another one of her,” Lamb bragged, “we’d be perfect.”
That could happen.
After all, Lamb has two more offspring. And she’s a grandmother to 13 children who call her “MeMe.”
So, there — now you know how this diner got its name.
“I just love people,” Lamb said. “I just love to help make them smile. I treat people the way I want to be treated.”
As for me at MeMe’s Diner, I savored one of the best club sandwiches I have ever encountered, coupled with crinkle-cut fries and a sample of chicken nuggets.
How to describe it: “Jessie’s Club” comes packed with bacon, ham and breaded chicken breast on three slices of bread slathered with mayonnaise. It’s piled high with lettuce and tomato. And there are pickles lying atop, with the slices forming what looks like a crown.
To borrow one of Lamb’s words, it was “awesome.”
But, then again, maybe I should have had the biscuits.
“Breakfast, it’s all day,” Lamb said. “It’s homemade gravy. Everybody brags on it a lot.”
Lamb dropped a hint about her style of biscuits — an item that made her well known at Big John’s.
“My biscuits?” she said. “I don’t know what I done different than the other girls, but I think I put more butter in them.”
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