On any given day, the team at The Roanoker Restaurant makes between 1,500 and 2,000 handmade biscuits. But, it only took one biscuit to earn the restaurant national recognition twice in 14 months.
Published last week, Southern Living’s “Off the Eaten Path: Favorite Southern Dives and 150 Recipes That Made Them Famous” features The Roanoker’s biscuit recipe on page 236. As a result of the cookbook publication, The Roanoker biscuits will also be featured on NBC’s The Today Show on Friday, May 20th.
“It’s just wonderful,” said Roanoker owner Butch Craft, with a copy of the cookbook in hand. “It’s a really neat book and we’re very proud.”
Craft was first approached by the staff at Southern Living in the fall, when she learned that Southern Living had made the decision to list the restaurant as one of the top fives to eat breakfast in Virginia in the March 2010 magazine. She was pleasantly surprised that morning to have one of the Southern Living photographers ask her for permission to take photographs in the restaurant.
She was even more surprised a few months later when the Southern Living project editor called to ask if she would be willing to share the Restaurant’s 70-year old biscuit recipe and sausage gravy recipe with them so it could be considered for publication in a cookbook. Before she could forward them along, Craft and Bread maker Sandra Scott spent nearly two weeks in the Roanoker kitchen trying to reduce the biscuit recipe from 500 servings to eight servings. After all, the restaurant normally serves about 1,500 – 2,000 biscuits to an average of about 700 customers daily, with Sunday numbers even higher. Some customers order biscuits to go as well.
The recipe is the same one that The Roanoker has been following to make its biscuits since it first opened in 1941 – 70 years ago.
“The Roanoker biscuits are amazing,” said Roanoke native Tammy N. Shank. “Even my picky six-year-old can’t get enough of them. They are made in the southern tradition – light and fluffy and not too brown.”
“Many of our customers have eaten here for many years and know what to expect [with our biscuits],” said Scott.
When Craft hadn’t heard back from the magazine for several weeks she assumed it just hadn’t made the cookbook, and was thrilled to get the call in which she learned that the recipe did indeed make it. Craft received her copy of the cookbook on May 6 and says that the cookbook will be soon be offered on QVC.
“It’s such an honor to have been selected as one of only four Virginia restaurants that Southern Living considered,” said Craft.
The cookbook details the journey of Morgan Murphy, the former travel and food editor of Southern Living magazine and one of America’s funniest food critics, as he tours the South in an old Cadillac, grabbing 150 of the best recipes the region has to offer.
Three other southwest Virginia restaurants are also highlighted in the cookbook: Bistro on Main in Lexington, The Pink Cadillac Diner in Natural Bridge, and Mom’s Apple Pie Company in Leesburg.
Copies of the cookbook are available in local book stores and online as well as in The Roanoker gift shop for $19.95, provided they haven’t sold out – again! The store sold all 50 of the first shipment of cookbooks they received in just one day last week. A second shipment of 150 cookbooks will arrive in the coming week.
Locally owned and operated, The Roanoker is located at 2522 Colonial Avenue SW, in Roanoke. The restaurant employs 75 and seats 300 people. Visit them online at TheRoanokerRestaurant.com