Area restaurants provide free meals to kids during coronavirus crisis

Old Dads in Gatlinburg (Photo by Alaina O'Neal/

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With the coronavirus being declared a national emergency on Friday, Sevier County Schools decided to close their doors until March 30. While this move potentially protects thousands of children from spreading the deadly virus, it may also cause  problems for the hundreds of kids across the county who rely on free or reduced-cost school lunches.

In response, some local businesses are stepping up for the greater good of the community by offering free meals to kids in need while schools are not in session.

It’s important as a community, to not only spread the word about these offerings to help the children of Sevier County, but also lift up and support businesses who give back in a time of crisis – so please keep these businesses in mind once the pandemic has passed and offer your patronage and support in return.

Read More: Business closures in the Smokies: How attractions are responding to the coronavirus pandemic

1. Old Dad’s General Store & Deli

1127 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Old Dad’s General Store in Gatlinburg will be providing free breakfast and lunch to any Sevier County child who needs a meal during Monday-Friday 7am-5pm for the entirely of the school sequester.

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2. Best Italian

710 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 or Suite #9 968, Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 (Elks Plaza)

Both Best Italian locations in Gatlinburg will be providing one free kids pasta dish for any Sevier County child who needs a meal while schools are not in session, Monday-Friday 11am-6pm.

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3. The Red Tomato

248 Collier Dr, Sevierville, TN 37862

While school is out, The Red Tomato in Sevierville is offering to feed any child in need for free Monday-Friday 11am-4pm.

4. Buddy’s Bar-B-Q

Buddy’s Bar-B-Q in Sevierville is offering any Sevier County School student “in need of a missed school lunch” a free piggy pack meal during the two week school cancellation (Sevierville location only). It’s important to note that Buddy’s Bar-B-Q also has a drive-thru, which might be more ideal than dining in a crowded restaurant at this time.

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5. Don Marco’s

2946 Winfield Dunn Pkwy, Kodak, TN 37764

While school is out, Don Marco’s Mexican Restaurant will be providing free kid’s meals to any child in need for free Monday-Friday 11am-3pm.

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Staff Relief Funds

With restaurants struggling to keep doors open, some folks are launching initiatives to help their employees. Kennedy Concepts, whose restaurants include Loco Burro, Crawdaddy’s, Puckers, and Johnny Rockets, has a GoFundMe to help support their employees. Puckett’s parent company, A. Marshall Hospitality, has launched a gift card sale and staff relief fund to help its team of more than 800, most of whom have been laid off this week.

Read more: Puckett’s parent company launches gift card sale and staff relief fund in wake of pandemic 

Visit the CDC website and the Tennessee Department of Health website for the latest information about the coronavirus.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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