Small bites: Bikers and burger lovers unite at Dave’s 209

BIKERS AND HIKERS: Dave's 209, a new restaurant owned by Dave Thomas, is on a scenic stretch of highway in Hot Springs near Max Patch mountain. Accordingly, the eatery has become a go-to spot for passing motorcycle riders, outdoor adventurers and locals looking to grab a bite. Photo courtesy of Dave Thomas

Bisecting a challengingly curvy, 40-mile stretch of road that gambols about the Smoky Mountains is a 2-mile straightaway, and at the midpoint of that paved length of respite sits Dave’s 209. Named after owner Dave Thomas and its setting on Route 209 — also known as The Rattler for its snaky layout — the Hot Springs eatery has been gaining traction as a hub for burgers, bikes (the kind sporting an engine) and community meet-ups since opening in June.

“We are located in an old schoolhouse that closed in the early ’90s,” Thomas explains. “Soon after the school closed down, the building was made into a community center. However, funding for the restoration has been hard to come by. Bringing in the restaurant gives the community center’s management board a steady rent from us.” These funds, Thomas says, will eventually help restore an unfinished wing of the property.

Since many of Thomas’ customers pass through the scenic area by motorcycle, he’s built a special parking pad for them and decked out the interior with bike-themed posters. Car club members, hikers visiting nearby Max Patch mountain and locals round out the clientele. Some come for the restaurant’s four stand-up arcade games and two big-screen televisions. Others just come hungry.

“Our menu is focused on burgers, and as a burger lover, I make sure to use just the best ingredients,” he says, listing the jalapeno-topped Rattler burger as a favorite. “Jalapeno on a burger is not new. They way we do it, though, cuts most of burn out.” Thomas finishes each with bacon, cheddar cheese, Bermuda onions, lettuce and tomato.

Also on the menu is a handmade black-bean burger with roasted red peppers and sriracha aioli, a bacon-wrapped hot dog, chicken tenders cut from tenderloins and hand-dipped milkshakes made with fresh fruits. Much of the produce is sourced from nearby farms and markets, and meats come primarily from a Leicester-based farm. Food scraps are returned to local swine that “will come back to us as bacon later in the year,” Thomas says, and “our used frying oil is used to make biodiesel — some to power a nearby farm’s tractors.”

“Kids now have a place to go to hang out, which will help keep them out of trouble,” Thomas says, and “it gives [locals] a reason to get out of the house and be with people they know and otherwise would not see that often.”

Dave’s 209 is at 13075 Highway 209 in Hot Springs. Business hours are Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Visit or for more information.

Soil-building secrets

Elizabeth Murphy, soil scientist and author of Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach, will lead a two-hour workshop on the importance of healthy, living soil to productive, green gardens. Her class will teach participants to recognize healthy soil, feed and nourish the soil food web and build fertility using natural strategies and techniques that come from getting down to the ground. She calls this last strategy “a soil-eyed view that will change the way you grow.”

Murphy leads the workshop at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 6-8 p.m. Sliding scale entry fee is $5-$15 per person. Visit for more information.

Noble Cider’s grand opening celebration

Noble Cider recently held a soft opening for its new taproom, but after settling into the new 9,000-square-foot space, management is planning a full-fledged party on Saturday, Sept. 12. Cider specials, cider sorbets, discounted pours and growler fills are all in the mix. Noble’s creations plus other regional ciders, beers, sake and kombucha will flow from the room’s 20 taps while Cecilia’s Kitchen serves crepes, empanadas and the like. Orange Krush (along with Noble Cider’s Joanna Baker and Lief Stevens) will provide the live music.

The grand opening celebration takes place noon-10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Noble Cider’s new taproom, 356 New Leicester Highway. Carpooling is encouraged. Visit for more details and a full schedule.

Brain Food Trivia

One Love Chiropractic will celebrate brain-boosting foods with a nutrition-themed trivia game and party. Participants can enjoy healthy snacks, recipe swapping and raffle prizes before wrapping up the evening with the Brain Food Trivia competition. Awards include gift certificates to Mother Earth Produce, Dobra Tea and Cosmic Groove Massage plus a Ninja blender.

Brain Food Trivia is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at One Love Chiropractic, 959 Merrimon Ave., Suite 201. Visit for more information or to register.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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