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Diners are seated family-style at one of several tables located in private rooms throughout the antebellum-style mansion. As guests are served bowl after bowl of chicken and pastry, meatloaf, fried chicken, green beans, fried okra, mashed potatoes and other traditional southern fare a hostess regales with local lore and legend. It’s one part meat-and-three, one part dinner theater.
At least one dish at every meal is prepared with the “local product” – a favorite is the caramelized apples.
Thomas Roundtree, one of the founding fathers of Moore County, built the charming, two-story structure in 1818 – long before Lynchburg became the home of the now famous distillery.
Roundtree eventually sold his home to Dr. E.Y. Salmon and his wife in 1857. The couple moved to Moore County so that Dr. Salmon could set up a medical practice. The Salmons decided to convert the residence into not only their personal home and Dr. Salmon’s office but also a boarding house. Sometimes called the Grand Central Hotel or Salmon’s House, the establishment soon gained a reputation as one of the finest boarding houses of the south – due in not small part to its delicious food.
In 1908, Dr. Salmon retired and Jack and Mary Bobo took over the property and the boarding house business. They renamed it The Bobo Hotel but took care to continue the tradition of outstanding southern food.
Jack Bobo died in 1948, but Miss Mary continued to run the boarding house for another 35 years. During her time, the hotel was used almost exclusively for guest of Jack Daniel Distillery. Each day, the restaurant served up to 100 people per day. Throughout, Miss Mary maintained her own table and served as hostess. She continued to oversee daily operations, set the menu, oversee the private vegetable garden and purchase the groceries until her 98th birthday.
In 1983, Miss Mary died just weeks shy of her 102nd birthday and the distillery purchased the establishment from Miss Mary Bobo’s heirs.
It had been more than 75 years since someone other than Miss Mary Bobo had run the boarding house, but it reopened on May 1, 1984, with Jack Daniel’s great-grandniece, Lynne Tolley, as proprietress.
It no longer boards guests but continues to serve two meals each day – one at 11 a.m. and a second at 1 p.m.
Two main courses and a host of side items including homemade bread and dessert are served daily. It continues to grow its own fresh produce in a garden located out back.
Lunch is strictly by reservation only. For more information, call (931) 759-7394.