In the movie A Walk In The Woods featuring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, the two main characters hike the Appalachian Trail. About midway through the movie, Redford and Nolte come off the trail to resupply, sleep in a hotel and eat food that wasn’t prepared over a camp stove. Where did they go after weeks of eating ramen noodles? Calhoun’s.
All over East Tennessee, moviegoers immediately recognized the familiar “Best Ribs In America” sign featured prominently in the film as the familiar “Calhoun’s” logo filled the screen. After showing the Calhoun’s sign, the movie turns its attention to Redford and Nolte as they walk into Calhoun’s for dinner. While the movie implies that Redford and Nolte are eating at Calhoun’s, the interior of Calhoun’s restaurant was not used for the dining scene in the movie.
A Walk In The Woods, produced by Robert Redford, is based on the popular book A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson. Although the movie premiered in September, it is still showing in a few local theaters and is scheduled to be released on DVD this month.
Rick Laney, president of Rick Laney Marketing, saw the movie the weekend it opened in September. His marketing firm has represented Calhoun’s for years. “My wife and I were sitting there at Regal Pinnacle and – to my surprise – I’m watching a Calhoun’s sign on the big-screen. I couldn’t believe it.”
Laney said companies pay millions to have their products placed in major motion pictures. “Whenever you see someone in a movie drinking a Pepsi instead of a Coke or using an Apple computer instead of a Dell, someone made that decision,” Laney said. “And many times that decision is made based on who is willing to be the highest bidder.”
As soon as Laney left the theater, he called Bart Fricks, Chief Operating Officer for Calhoun’s and the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants. Like Laney, Fricks was not aware that Calhoun’s was featured prominently in the major motion picture.
“I had no idea,” Fricks said. “The movie features a number of iconic locations along the Appalachian Trail between Georgia and Maine – and you can’t really stop for food in this part of the country without eating at Calhoun’s. Maybe Hollywood figured out what Tennesseans knew all along.”
For the past 40 years, the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants have been known as “the taste of Tennessee.” The Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants includes Copper Cellar, Calhoun’s, Smoky Mountain Brewery, Cherokee Grill, and Chesapeake’s. With locations in Knoxville, Maryville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Lenoir City, the company and its 1,100 employees are proud to be the must-visit place locals take their out-of-town family and friends to truly experience the taste of Tennessee.