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New restaurant opening downtown

A new eatery offering “good old-fashioned southern cooking” will open next month at 109 Courthouse Square in downtown Jonesborough. It was formerly occupied by The Creekside.
The Old Courthouse Diner, owned by Jo Ann Bentley and her son, Frank Van Pelt, will have everything from meatloaf to specialty burgers, according to Van Pelt.
“We are planning to open Feb. 1,” Van Pelt said. “We plan to be open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
Those hours might be extended during the summer months, he said.
Van Pelt is busy transforming the interior of the restaurant, painting the walls a sunny yellow color and hanging photography of Jonesborough locations.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Van Pelt, originally from southern Maryland, attended and graduated from the San Diego School of Culinary Arts in 1996.
Since then, he has cooked in many high-end southern style restaurants around the country, he said.
Most recently, he cooked locally at Gentleman Jim’s and The Trailblazer Market.
The diner will be a family affair, with Bentley taking care of the books. Van Pelt’s stepfather, Lance Davis, will work as a cashier and greeter.
Van Pelt plans to offer a variety of specialty burgers along with daily specials ranging from all-you-can-eat fried catfish on Fridays, liver and onions, meatloaf and southern fried chicken.
He also looks forward, he said, to being open early so people heading out to work can have time to stop in for breakfast.