Local legend "Miss Von" retiring after 53 years at N. Chatt. diner
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - At the end of this week, the grill at the Long Horn Restaurant in north Chattanooga just won't be the same. Breakfast and lunch will still be served, and it will surely be delicious. But one ingredient will be missing: the love from Yvonne Williams, known to customers as "Miss Von" since 1960. She first started working for the Long Horn (not affiliated with the steakhouse chain) on McCallie Avenue, later moving to the North Market Street location.
"My secret?" asks Yvonne. "Everything I cook I prepare it like I'm going to eat it. I want to make sure the customers come back." And they have, generations of them. Her specialty, she says is "the Western Omelette (green pepper, eggs, onions, ham and butter). People really love that."
After 53 years behind the counter, Miss Von says it's time to slow down. Despite her youthful appearance, all those years on the floor have taken their toll. One of her first post-retirement appointments is knee replacement surgery. Co-workers say she'll be a tough act to follow.
Darlene Elmer started working at the Long Horn last September. "I thought she was about 50. Then she told me she had been working here for 53 years. I said, what?" Elmer added, "She is never late, she never calls in sick, you can depend on her. Plus she's a great cook. There will never be another one like her."
Miss Von will be missed by her customers too. Some, like 50-year-old Greg Sitton have been coming in since they were kids. Now they bring their own children, even grandchildren. In an ever changing world, Miss Von's food was a constant in their lives. "She just does her job, and does it well. She's a good listener, she always gets it right. I don't think she has any idea what she means to people."
Les McCurdy paused from tackling a plate of bacon and eggs to say, "She's retiring? Where does she live, can I eat at her house?"
The popular cook isn't ruling out a comeback someday. She's 73, and admits she might get antsy. But for now, she's cooking up her last plate of love, and sending out a big thank you to those she's served.
"I've looked forward to this every day," she said. "I like my job, I like my co-workers. But it's the customers that have kept me here. I'm gonna miss 'em."
The restaurant is hosting a retirement celebration for her Friday June 27 from 8 until 11 a.m.
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