published Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Whatever happened to ... Rossville's historic Roy's Diner still cooking

“For Lease” signs can be seen in summer 2011 in the windows of Roy’s Restaurant in Rossville.
“For Lease” signs can be seen in summer 2011 in the windows of Roy’s Restaurant in Rossville.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Question: Whatever happened to Roy's Diner?

Answer: Rossville's historic diner, which claims to be the Chattanooga area's oldest grill, is back on its feet and thriving.

Owner John T. Arnold Jr. says that since the restaurant reopened in August 2011, its customer base has more than doubled.

"We've been trucking right along," he said.

Arnold recently expanded the menu to include breakfast and is trying to grow a catering service for special orders, as well.

Built in 1949, the diner switched hands a number of times after the original owner died in 1986.

The building stood empty for about five years before Rossville purchased the building in 2010 and sold it to Troy and Wayne Potter as part of an effort to revitalize the downtown area.

But after $275,000 in renovations and six months of business, the Potters had to close the diner's doors yet again.

Just days after they went out of business, Arnold, then the kitchen manager at Southern Star on Signal Mountain, decided to try his hand at resurrecting Rossville's little bit of 1950s charm.

Despite the restaurant's rather rocky past, Arnold has high hopes for the future.

"We're not going anywhere anytime soon," he said. "We're just looking to grow more."

This update was written by staff writer Lindsay Burkholder. Contact her at To suggest a topic for "Whatever happened to," email

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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