Pratt’s Restaurant is famous for its “real pit” barbeque. In addition to the legendary smoked meats & sauces, Pratt’s Restaurant also offers one of the broadest menus in the region. If you are looking for a unique, palate-pleasing dining experience in a casual atmosphere, Pratt’s Restaurant is the place.
The Pratt family has been serving food in the Tri-Cities region for almost 40 years. Beginning in 1971, Frank Pratt sold a store in downtown Kingsport and purchased the current restaurant location from John Barker—then called “Honest Johns”. Originally serving “southern cooking”, Tom Pratt, son of Frank Pratt began smoking meats on-site in 1974. In fact, the original Southern Pride smoker that started Pratt’s famous smoked hams, turkeys, beef brisket, pork ribs, and chicken is still going strong!
In 1979, Tom Pratt added catering services to the Pratt offering. Pratt’s has since catered thousands of events including weddings, corporate events, and block parties. In 1987, recognizing the need for a source of smoked whole hams and turkeys east of Knoxville, Tom Pratt researched and launched the smoked meat or “Pratt’s Honey Glazed Ham” side of the business. The results have been extremely popular for not only holiday meals, but for customers who are looking for entrees for special events throughout the year or to give as a gift.
Jonathan Pratt, a third generation of restaurateurs - and Tom’s son, developed a keen interest in the family business early on, working various kitchen jobs at Pratt’s Restaurant. Recognizing this unique cooking talent, he enrolled and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Jonathan returned to Pratt’s and has since been instrumental in the development of many signature dishes and distinct sauces offered on the menu today.
“Honest Johns”, “The Big Indian”, & “The Highway”
The history of Pratt’s and the “Big Indian” predates its current building and location. In fact, it goes back to the late 1940’s to a store and curio shop in the Chestnut Ridge/Memorial Boulevard area of Kingsport. John Barker opened “Honest John’s Trading Post” after returning from the Army and World War II. Due to a lack of business, he decided to build an attention-getting sign for his business. In his basement, using anatomically correct drawings and a picture of a Chickasaw Indian in a schoolbook of his wife’s grandmother, he began constructing “The Big Indian”. Made from scrap lumber, wire mesh, stucco, sand, cement and fiberglass, the statue was 25 feet, 8 inches tall. Adding a three-foot pedestal and a 48-inch feather during installation, the Indian stood nearly 33 feet tall when completed.
Over the course of 10 years, changes began to take place in Kingsport with the construction of Stone Drive/Highway 11W – the “super highway”. Recognizing the likely decline in traffic at the Memorial Boulevard location, John Barker built a new building on Stone Drive and moved the business—and the Big Indian by flatbed—to the current location. Honest John’s new location functioned for several years as a restaurant, curio shop, service station and cabinet shop.
In 1971, the Pratt family purchased Honest John’s. Although the Big Indian was considered for several possible relocations (such as a mascot for the local Dobyns Bennett Indians football stadium), the 10,000-pound structure has remained and has had several face-lifts. Today, the Pratt’s Big Indian is considered the most identifiable restaurant icon in the entire Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol region.