It’s game on for Cootie Brown’s: New location opens in Johnson City


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The secret was out before long.

Staff at Cootie Brown’s newest location across from East Tennessee State University tried a quiet opening on Monday.

But according to general manager Logan Hines, the word was out by the next day.

“That was good for the staff because they learned our flow before kind of getting hit really hard,” she said before heading into the lunch rush on Wednesday.

Staff prepare the restaurant for lunch Wednesday morning.

Two years ago, Cootie Browns owner Tony Vella won the bid for the property along State of Franklin Road, beating out Purple Cow and the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce for the property.

Previous story: Cootie Brown’s owner wins bid for Lot 8 property along State of Franklin

The new restaurant is the largest of the local chain’s location with a 230 seating capacity. Wedged in between ETSU and the Mountain Home Veteran’s Affairs campus, the restaurant brings a different atmosphere to the table.

Hines said that while the current crew’s focus is on a successful opening, tailgating parties and other events could be just around the corner.

“I do think that we got really lucky with this location, we’re really excited about all our neighbors from the VA to the college campus, we look forward to creating a ton of (energy) between all of these different people,” Hines said.

Familiar decorations welcome Cootie Brown’s guests to the restaurant’s newest location across from ETSU’s campus.

New to the Campus Cootie Brown’s is a smoke pit and pitmaster in full view of guests who can ask questions or try samples of the day’s crop.

This location also boasts a full-service bar, a cooler full of prepared desserts and tamales for guests to take home, and new menu items unique to the new location.

“We just rolled out conch which was new to me as well, but the conch fritters, so that’s something that everyone needs to come out and try,” Hines said.

A full bar is new to Cootie Brown’s in Johnson City.

Hines added that restaurant owners have been in contact with the city about installing a red light on State of Franklin at Harris Drive (between Ruby Tuesday and Bank of Tennessee) to improve traffic flow.

“Hopefully by the time this performing arts center drops, it’ll be in,” she said. “This area is very vivacious, there’s a ton of traffic on State of Franklin, there’s a lot of traffic pulling in and out, so just for safety, I think that red light is necessary.”

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