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Peerless Restaurant: something old, something new

Peerless Restaurant, the second oldest restaurant in Tennessee, will open in Knoxville at 318 N. Peters Road in August.

The family-run restaurant, which opened in Johnson City in 1938, features steak and seafood.

“We felt that Knoxville didn’t have the exact type of fare that we have; that has so many multiple things such as steak and seafood,” owner Gary Kalogeros said. “There’s not this type of restaurant in Knoxville even though there are great restaurants in Knoxville. … We think a lot of our menu is unique.”

Kalogeros said one of the unique dishes is a “famous” Grecian salad made with homemade dressing.

“Our famous Grecian salad has the best dressing bar none since [1938],” he said. “It was offered to be bought by Kraft dressing, but we didn’t sell. We bottle it and send it via mail all over the U-S. … People get addicted to it. It’s a vinegar-based recipe, but we make our own vinegar. It’s hugely popular and very unique.”

Kalogeros said “flaming cheese” is a unique appetizer on the menu. “Flaming cheese is an appetizer dish flamed at the table with imported cheese. It’s very tasty. … It has a distinct flavor, it’s nothing like mozzarella.”

Kalogeros said Peerless goes the “extra mile” to prepare all of its food. “Our dressings are made from scratch, our mayonnaise is made from scratch, we do things the old-fashioned way.

“If we’re going to offer chicken, it’s not frozen, it’s grilled fresh. It’s not pre-cooked. Since nineteen thirty, we use the old style, long approach to quality. We butcher cut beef in house and age it. We have only high quality Black Angus beef, cut just before ordering and grilled to perfection.”

Although Kalogeros said Peerless has “unique flavors,” the restaurant also has “comfort food.”

“Our cheeseburger is the best because we use in-house ground filet mignon so it’s a true steak burger. The buns are homemade. It’s fantastic,” he said.

A preview of the menu can be seen on the Peerless Web-site at showing prices ranging from $7 to $23.

The menu is not the only unique thing Peerless has to offer.

“We have beautiful booths, custom mahogany done just for the store,” Kalogeros said. “We have unique lighting. It’s a very intense, colorful place. It’s such a customized restaurant, not cookie cutter at all.”

Kalogeros said he decided to open his new store in Knoxville because of his local ties to the community.

“I’m a graduate of [the University of Tennessee], my wife’s family lived here all their lives, the father of my wife ran Arthur’s, a restaurant,” he said.

A grand-opening premier night will be in early August. Although the restaurant will only serve dinner at first, Kalogeros said the restaurant will extend to lunch hours in the fall.

“We do feel like this is something special for Knoxville. … This type of restaurant doesn’t come around everyday,” Kalogeros said.


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