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Pal's Sudden Service, normally called Pal's for short, is a regional fast food restaurant chain located in northeast Tennessee and southwestern Virginia, with stores concentrated in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee metro region. The first Pal's opened in 1956 in Kingsport, Tennessee a year after the founder of Pal's, Fred "Pal" Barger, attended a National Restaurant Convention in Chicago and met Ray Kroc and Fred Turner, observing the construction and equipment they used for the first McDonald's restaurant.

In 2001, Pal's won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, becoming the only restaurant company to receive the award.


Pal's has always featured a basic menu. Items must not only be popular, but efficient to make. Lunch items are served open to close. Some of the most popular items are:

  • Big Pal- A 1/3 lb hamburger on a large bun with mayonnaise, onions, lettuce and tomato. (Also with Cheese and as Double Big Pal)
  • Sauce Burger- a standard fast food burger with "sauce", a ketchup, relish, and mustard based sauce.
  • Jr. Burger- small version of the Big Pal.
  • Frenchie Fries- french fries seasoned with seasoned salt.
  • Tea- Called "Pal's Tea" locally, a quart-sized cup of tea. This is Pal's most popular item, served from open to close, largely because area workers can buy it in the morning and drink on it all day at work. Made using JFG brand black tea.
  • Hot Dog- a hot dog bun with a weiner, mustard, onions, and chili
  • Chili Bun- a hot dog bun with chili and no weiner.
  • Chili Burger (also as a Jr.) - 1/3 lb. cheeseburger topped with Chili
  • Chipped Ham Sandwich- A chipped ham sandwich on the Big Pal bun.
  • Big Chicken Sandwich- same as the ham but with Chicken and cheese.
  • Cheddar Rounds- Cheesy potatoes also popular with fry salt.

Pal's serves Breakfast biscuits and other breakfast fast food items plus offers the entire dinner menu in the morning. Also, during breakfast hours and all day at some locations, a cup of coffee can accompany any item on the menu.

Pal's is also noted for their health scores which predominantly run between 95-99 which are also inspected on a monthly basis by their own in-house inspectors to ensure quality and cleanliness.


One of the notable features of Pal's is the architecture of the buildings. Pal #2 has long featured a "muffler man" called Big Pal holding a hamburger on the roof. The newer Pal's restaurants are box-shaped with a tiered front. On this front sits a Big Pal (Hamburger), Hot Dog, and an Order of Frenchie Fries and drink cup.

Until recently, Pal's #2 also featured a 50's-style lighted sign. The sign was replaced because it became too expensive to operate and maintain.

Company History

  • 1956 - First Pal’s Opened Kingsport # 1
  • 1958 - Lynn Garden Pal's #2
  • 1985 - First Drive Thrus Open in Kingsport
  • 1990 - Pal's #5 Opened in Johnson City
  • 1991 - Greeneville #6 & Gate City #7 Open
  • 1992 - Pal's JC Mall #8 and Elizabethton #9 Open
  • 1993 - Pal's #10 Volunteer Parkway Opened
  • 1994 - Pal's #11 Bristol Highway Opens
  • 1995 - Pal's Brook's Circle #12 & Rogersville #13 Open
  • 1997 - Pal's Morristown #14
  • 1998 - Pal's #15 Opened & Big Breakfast Introduced
  • 1999 - Pal's opens in Bristol at Exit 7
  • 2001 - Pal's Wins Baldrige National Quality Award
  • 2002 - President Bush presents Pal's the Baldrige Award
  • 2003 - Two new Pal's, Gray & Blountville
  • 2006 - Pal's in Jonesborough Open
  • 2007 - Pal's celebrates the 20th year of the "big tea"
  • 2008 - Pal's opens in Lebanon, Virginia

External links

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