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Johnny Carino’s adds Country Italian spice
Restaurant opens on Lovell Road

Johnny Carino’s Country Italian restaurant officially opened its doors to the public on Monday, July 19.

The restaurant is located on Lovell Road near Turkey Creek. This is the first Johnny Carino’s to open in the state of Tennessee and the 119th restaurant for the LABO franchise corporation.

“Knoxville is a very friendly town,” said general manager and proprietor Eric Cooper. “There are some extraordinary restaurants around here and we think that we will be a great addition to the area. Johnny Carino’s will bring an economical approach to fine dining.”

Originating in Texas, Johnny Carino’s is famous for “simple, straightforward good Italian food,” said Cooper. “Everything that we have is homemade.” He added, “We have terrific twelve layer lasagna as well as a wonderful chicken scaloppini. Everything is good; big, bold, hearty and flavorful.”

Local restaurateur, Bob McManus, chief manager of Texas Roadhouse, Riverside Tavern and West Side Tavern established a partnership with his longtime friend, Tom Root, formerly of the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurant chain. The partners formed a new franchise called the Allegro Restaurant Group and brought Johnny Carino’s to Tennessee.

A second location will open in Johnson City in early September. The pair is planning to open four to five locations in the Knoxville, Sevierville and Blount County areas within the next few years.

The restaurant was built from the ground up and is decorated in an Italian farmhouse fashion. Tables and booths along the perimeter of the restaurant have tapestry curtains that may be drawn to provide extra privacy.

The restaurant has an open view style kitchen. Customers are able to watch their meals being prepared by a kitchen staff wearing brightly colored chef’s hats. The servers and the team of hostesses are dressed in solid black.

There are two banquet areas, one which houses a fireplace, on opposite ends of the restaurant. The banquet rooms may be reserved for large parties.

Paul Delahunt, director of operations, said, “In-house banquets will hopefully add another facet to our business.”

Johnny Carino’s has a bar area and full service drinks are served with the meals as well.

“We have three sizes of meals,” said Cooper. “There is a lunch and a dinner portion as well as a grandiose portion, which is large enough to feed two to three people without doubling the price of the meal.”

The restaurant currently has approximately 100 employees, five of them being the management team.

They will also offer curbside service, or meals to go.

“We have a lot of doctor’s offices and hospitals in the area and customers can call ahead and have a freshly prepared meal brought right to them (at the restaurant),” Cooper said.

Reservations will not be taken, but “call ahead” seating will be made available in the near future.

Norman Abdallah, CEO and president of Johnny Carino’s Country Italian said, “We are very excited about coming to Tennessee.”

According to Abdallah the staff and crew have been well trained and are ready to serve the public.

“We have had a team of eighteen staff trainers who have come from Texas, and when they leave, a second team will arrive to help with the first days of operation,” Abdallah said.

Johnny Carino’s will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information about Johnny Carino’s, log onto


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