Tennessee Alumnus

Ray’s Place

Good food, even better people

Up on the crest of the Hill, in the basement of South College, sits a restaurant and snack shop that has kept UT Knoxville faculty and students fed for decades.

Ray’s Place fills a gaping hole left by the absence of mother’s or grandmother’s cooking, serves as a meeting place amongst students, and is a better alternative to the fast-food restaurants lining the Strip. It feels like home. After entering, I immediately make my way to the whiteboard that shows what has been prepared today. I would like to say that the choice of what to eat is easy, but it still takes me several minutes to decide what to get.

The menu never disappoints a starving customer. Lasagna is a daily item and undoubtedly my favorite choice. Country fried steak and Salisbury steak also frequent the menu, along with several side items, and a sweet roll is included. The refrigerators lining the back wall are packed with soft drinks and the many different sandwiches Ray Mowery and his staff prepare each morning. My friend rarely gets anything other than the chicken salad sandwich. The snack shop has kept true to its roots and sells candy, cookies, pies and cakes as well.

Past the food counter is a back room with booths and tables. Those who are lucky get one of these booths and don’t leave for hours. Students can enjoy their hot lunch while finishing a last-minute assignment, reading the newspaper or surfing the Internet. Ray’s is a great place to escape the struggles of college life.

While the food is good, it’s the kind words and friendly conversation that keep people returning. Ray and his staff always greet those who enter with a grin, and their hospitality radiates through everyone who shuffles through daily. Every time I leave, I hear Ray in the background saying, “See you next time.”

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Alex Cate is a junior majoring in sports journalism who plans to graduate in May 2014.