The owners of Famous Louise’s say if you dine there twice, you’re family. So if you’re in the Linville Falls area and thinking you should stop at least once, but want to know a little more about the quaint restaurant in a small mountain town, situated on three county lines, this Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant Review is for you.
For more ideas of where to eat, check out all of our restaurant reviews.
When I’m away, I always try to find small, local restaurants that are unique to the area. There’s a very good chance I’ll never be back in that town, so it’s my only chance to check it out — as opposed to chains that I can find all over.
Don’t get me wrong. You will find me in a chain restaurant. Just, more often than not, not when I’m on vacation.
So that’s why, when I was on vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains with my cousin, we decided to check out Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant. It’s a small restaurant located smack dab in the middle of three county lines: Avery County, McDowell County, and Burke County. You eat in one county, pay at the register in another, and go to the bathroom in the third.
When you’re inside the restaurant, there are signs above you telling you what county you’re entering. And, when you do go, look for the fireplace. That’s actually the original from when the building was built in the 1930’s. That’s where the county lines intersect.
Based on the whimsy alone we decided we had to eat there on our way to Linville Caverns. And I’m so glad we did.
We had great food and great service at the cozy restaurant, and a great story of our version of four corners to tell.
Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant Review
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History Of Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant
Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant was originally Linville Falls Tavern, named after the local waterfall in the area. The 1.5-story building was built by locally-known stonemason Lenoir Franklin in 1936 for C.J. Howell. It was built exactly where a tree, known as the “tri-county tree” once stood.
That year, Linville Falls Tavern opened as a tavern on the lower floor and a boarding house, for local stonemason working on the Blue Ridge Parkway, upstairs. There was a General Store and Gulf service station on the property as well.
Four years later, on September 13, 1940, a dance hall opened in conjunction with the tavern, making it a very popular spot amongst locals. That was managed by Guy and Phillis Huskins, who eventually purchased the joint from Howell in 1947. (Side note: Guy Huskins built the original Linville Falls Lodge the following year.)
And then, three years into the Huskins’ tenure, there was a drastic change in the area.
Beer and liquor sales became illegal in the trio of counties where the tavern was, forcing the tavern to change to a restaurant, resulting in a new, more suitable name: Linville Falls Restaurant.
Less than 20 years later, it was sold to Florida residents Joyce S. and Otis Earl Lumpkin. A year later, they sold it to Albert Franklins, who lived in Linville Falls, and he changed the name of it to The Franklin House Restaurant.
And then he sold it the next day to Tony and Ruth Paterno, who had dreams of operating it as an Italian restaurant. That didn’t go well in the small mountain town, so they sold it to Gary Robinson who took it all the way back to its (second) roots and opened a night club with music, dancing, and drinking.
That went as well as the Italian restaurant, which is to say it flopped. So it closed.
Not wanting to see it go into disarray, Albert Franklins — the last person to operate anything successful in the building — bought it back and opened it back as a restaurant. But, this was nearly 25 years after he originally purchased it, and the Franklins family remembered why the got out of the business in the first place.
So, less than a year later, they leased it to current namesake Louise Henson and eventually sold it to her three years later.
That was 1989 — nearly 25 years ago — which, by my quick math, makes Louise the longest owner and Louise’s the longest name (although, her daughter Shirley Yager does run it now).
Although, when we were there, we did notice a real estate ad in the upper window and the historic restaurant and its equipment are listed on the Fonta Flora Realty website, so the restaurant may be changing hands once again.
Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant Menu
Famous Louise’s serves breakfast from 6 am to 11 am with traditional American items like eggs, pancakes, cereal, biscuits, and sandwiches. It’s all pretty classic, except for the Southern staple: livermush.
From 11 am until close, you can order off the lunch menu, which has sandwiches like chicken salad and mostly Southern entrees like ribeye steak and mountain trout. There are two Italian meals on the menu: spaghetti with meat sauce and lasagna. A nod to the Paternos, perhaps?
We both ended up going with a bacon, lettuce, and tomato, which is honestly such a basic sandwich but one you don’t see on a menu very often. It was delicious and cooked perfectly. I had house made chips as a side and let me tell you. When a restaurant has those on the menu, order them. They’re only there if they’re done well.
My cousin never had them before (yes, I was shocked too) and they. blew. her. mind. More than the mozzarella sticks she ordered as a side.
And, to finish, there are pies. You can order them to go or by the slice. We didn’t have any, but if you get the chance, get the strawberry rhubarb pie. It’s made from rhubarb’s from a plant started by Shirley’s great-grandfather, so that’s amazing and really special.
You can actually see the entire Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant menu online, if you’re like me and like to plan ahead. Although the menu doesn’t list them, there are some daily specials too.
And, the prices are incredible. My cousin asked for the check when I was in the bathroom and she thought she received just hers. She was shocked when she asked the waitress for mine too and was told they were both on the same check. It was less than $20 for us both to eat lunch — and be full — so it’s definitely worth the value and was the perfect place for us to stop.
Also impressive: Everything is made from scratch. Even the pies. And the jams you can buy to go.
Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant Information
23175 221 Linville Falls Highway, Newland, NC 28657
Wednesday to Saturday: 7 am to 7 pm
Things To Do Near Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant
After you finish your meal, there is a bunch of outdoorsy stuff to do in the area.
One of the best things to do in the area is to visit the famous Linville Caverns, the only show caverns in North Carolina. We went there after our lunch and wrote about it in our Linville Caverns review.
You can also hike at Linville Falls, which we did after the caverns. It’s one of the best places to see a waterfall in North Carolina. We went in September and it was a nice hike then. It would be perfect in the spring and summer months, but I’m not sure I would recommend it in the winter.
And then of course, there’s the Linville Gorge, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Eastern USA.”
It’s really close to Boone, NC and Beech Mountain, NC (where the Land of Oz is). And it’s a a short drive to Sugar Mountain for the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, which we highly recommend. We had the absolute best time riding it.
Have you been to Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant? Let us know about your experience in the comments.