If enjoying locally roasted coffee in a setting that simply screams, in a very quiet, pleasant way, what East Tennessee is known for, then having a cup expertly prepared by Jaimie Matzko at Thunderhead Perk in Townsend, TN, (just outside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park) should be near the top of your to-do list. Jaimie is a well-practiced barista and renowned maker of delicious coffee-shop side-items including delicious cakes, scones, cookies, muffins and the usual sweet fare in addition to fantastic, simple sandwiches, soups, and the more savory stuff as well. The shop is quite small, which helps "Th' Perk" keep its costs very reasonable, and the cozy atmosphere really rings in what's best about the East Tennessee Valley at its comfortable location about two miles from the entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park.
For visitors from out of town, Thunderhead Perk is a must-visit coffee shop in Townsend. As visitors to Townsend will attest, finding much in Townsend, outside of things to do, can be a bit of a trick, and so Thunderhead Perk, being a great coffee shop, really serves the small community and its many tourists by being a good place to stop off and fuel up before a trip into the park (or refuel after one). There are few baristas in the greater Knoxville area with Jaimie Matzko's level of expertise, fewer with her phenomenal cooking and baking skills to match, and none other nestled so close to the National Park, which just happens to be another area of Jaimie's expertise: she and her husband worked and lived in the park for years before opening Thunderhead Perk.
For locals, Th' Perk's motto: Far from the daily grind, is a perfect reason to make the drive into Townsend to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and some treats with a mountain view (and a fire for these colder months). Though the interior is small and quaint, it makes a perfect place to retreat from the rest of what's going on in Maryville or Knoxville and to be able to sit back and focus. At their main table, many a successful small business meeting has been held, and the relaxed, removed atmosphere seem to back up the ability to be creative and to connect with coworkers or clients willing to make the drive. As for the coffee, it's some of the best available in greater Knoxville, testified to by the fact that Thunderhead Perk, small and remote as it is, won third place as the best overall place in East Tennessee to get a "cup o' Joe" in a poll conducted by Knoxville television station and news organization WBIR.
Speaking of locals, Jaimie is a believer of keeping things as local as possible. Though coffee itself doesn't grow in the East Tennessee area, being a tropical plant, there are a few fine roasteries in the region surrounding Knoxville that source the coffee for Thunderhead Perk: Vienna Coffee Company in Maryville, and the tiny (but good) Blue Smoke Coffee Company in Gatlinburg, when it is available. In addition, Jaimie makes a point of using as many locally obtained ingredients, like locally produced honey, in her shop is as practical, making Th' Perk a real extension of and boon to the East Tennessee community.
To get to Thunderhead Perk, look for it on US-321(Lamar Alexander Parkway) as it runs through Townsend. The shop is small with a vivid blue roof and a sign that reads "Espresso, Coffee, and Cafe" on the roof of the rustic-looking cabin that houses it. The official address of Thunderhead Perk is 7249 East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend, TN (zip 37882). You can also call Th' Perk at (865)448-2332, if you'd like.
The hours of operation of Thunderhead Perk need to be noted, particularly if driving in from Knoxville or Maryville:
- Tuesday - Saturday, 7:00 am through 5:00 pm
- Sunday, 9:00 am through 2:00 pm
- Closed Mondays.
Don't miss the Thunderhead Perk website, available by clicking here! Also, you can follow Thunderhead Perk on Facebook, which is an awesome way to keep up-to-date with the daily specials and what Jaimie is cooking up.
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