Over a career of traveling for business, I have eaten in a lot of restaurants. We have lived in the Roanoke, Virginia area for twenty-one years. That has given us a lot of time to sample area restaurants.
One of our first adventures, the spring after we moved to the Roanoke Valley in the fall of 1989 was to drive over the mountain to Catawba. Our plans were to have lunch at the Homeplace.
Old timers in the area will get a chuckle out of this. We chose Mother's Day as the time for our first visit to the Homeplace. We found that half the Roanoke Valley has the exact same idea.
While we had to wait an hour or so, we got our first introduction to the food and atmosphere of the Homeplace that day in May 1990. It was a wonderful experience. I still remember the delicious fried chicken, nicely seasoned sides, and those perfect (not greasy) biscuits. We truly enjoyed our meal.
Recently we took another trip out to the Homeplace. We have probably been three or four times this year, but this was the first time that it occurred to me that 2010 marked the twentieth anniversary of our first meal at the Homeplace.
It turned out that our recent meal was just as memorable as our first. Though they had just served a bus load of people, things were quiet enough for one of the waitresses to take the time to chat with us. She has waited on us many times over the years. She told us that she thinks that only two individuals have had the honor of making the Homeplace's biscuits over the last twenty years.
It is hard to believe that you can make that many biscuits and have them all turn out perfect, but that is the honest truth about the Homeplace.
The waitress told us that one night last weekend there were over 300 people in line at 8 PM. The Homeplace normally closes at 8 PM, but they have a rule that if you are in line by 8 PM, you will be seated and fed. She said that they did not finish seating the last person until around 9 PM that night.
She also confirmed what I had heard, that the record number of people they have served in a day was around 1,700. That is a lot of fried chicken and biscuits.
I have never been disappointed with a meal at the Homeplace in over twenty years. A meal there is always consistently delicious. The food is always hot, and I have never been served by an inattentive waitress. That includes a lot of meals when the waitresses were working at warp speed to get food to the tables.
I cannot remember what the price of a meal was at the Homeplace when we first went there 20 years ago, but I know that it has only gone up a dollar or two in those 20 years. The other day, the meal for the two of us was $26 with tax but before tip. It included our beverages and dessert if we had wanted it.
We passed on the dessert because we had no room. The main course servings were so generous that we did not even have to ask for seconds on anything.
The Homeplace is the only restaurant where I have consistently had great food over a span of twenty years. It has never let me down.
We obviously are not the only folks who love the Homeplace. As we were checking out, the gentleman at the cash register told us that many of their customers were regulars like us.
You can also read Joe Kennedy's Roanoke Times August 2007 article about the Homeplace for some additional history.
I also suggest you check out Yelp's reviews of the Homeplace. The Homeplace manages an easy Five Stars. My favorite comment there is this one from a reviewer named Shenna F.
When I finally brought my fiancée to this place, his reaction was "after 5 years of dating, how was it that you just now brought me to this place!?! We should be eating here all the time!" It's such a great place to eat! Home style cooking with stick to your ribs type of food. Normally, I'm not a huge fried chicken fan. But, I love love love their fried chicken....
There is only one other place where I have had that much success, and it is a drive-in fast food restaurant in Mt. Airy, NC. That place would be Odell's where I have been enjoying their Big Moe for over 40 years.