Ballenger’s Restaurant was the Chattooga County landmark you wanted all of your out-of-towners to experience. A former home/general store turned restaurant, where brown-bagging was allowed, and expected. The lounge was a fire pit that burned year-round, furnished with picnic tables and a swing, outside.
The back door was the front door and the parking lot remained unpaved. You literally parked under trees, in a field.
The food at Ballenger’s was amazing: the peppadew cheese, steaks, salad, the butter and bread, desserts… down to the homemade salad dressings and steak sauces, which were so good one might consider drinking them….
Ballenger’s offered something unique in the restaurant world, something intangible. The dining took place in old bedrooms, the living room, the old dining room. The bathroom had a tub in it. This wasn’t your typical restaurant, it was a home with a story. And home simply cannot be replaced at Longhorn.
Mabel and Thomas Dill Ballenger built their home and store in 1934, and raised five kids there. The couple’s grandson, Herb, turned the home/store into a restaurant in 1992.
The first time I went in Ballenger’s, Martha was standing there behind the counter. I asked her how long it would be before I could get a table, she replied, “next week”. I quickly learned that if you wanted to eat good food in Gore, you needed to call in advance, early, cross your fingers and talk extra nice to Ms. Martha. If you wanted to make an extra good impression on Ms. Martha, eat quickly, leave promptly, she never frowned upon half-empty bottles of wine being left behind as an offering. Martha would only sit 85 people a night, period, no exceptions. For 24 years Ms. Martha shared her cooking and weekends with Chattooga County. The passing years softened Ms. Martha…some.
Sadly, the restaurant closed in September 2016 after 24 years of serving up more than good food. Many stories will forever begin, “Remember that night we were eating at Ballenger’s”.
The 80-year old building that has served the corner of Highway 27 will soon be gone with a Dollar Store taking it’s place. Over the last several weeks, the Ballenger family has been selling the contents of the restaurant. One big piece of Chattooga County history remains… the counter.
The counter, which was original to the general store, and then used in the restaurant, is definitely 83 years old… probably closer to 100 years old.
The counter top is 14 feet long, the counter base is 13’8″ long. The counter is 40 inches high and 26 1/2 inches deep at the top (counter top) and 20 1/2 inches deep at the bottom (counter base). A base / riser for the counter was built 25 years ago, it raises the counter up one foot higher. It would make a great bar in a den, hunting cabin or man cave. The family is asking $500 for the counter.
The family wishes to see the counter preserved and used. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.