Flanked by two of the state’s most celebrated recreational waterways, Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, the tiny town of Grand Rivers offers countless recreational opportunities by lake or by land.
The city of just 350 residents has also made its mark in a culinary sense, with Patti’s 1880’s Settlement, founded by Bill and Patti Tullar and children in 1977 as Hamburger Patti’s Ice Cream Parlor. It’s since evolved into a sprawling eatery serving 300,000 meals per year and 1,300 meals each Saturday night alone.
Company President Michael Tullar, Bill and Patti’s youngest son, says success lies in a recipe the family doesn’t keep secret—great food and great service in beautiful surroundings.
Patti’s is known for its 2-inch-thick pork chops, tempting varieties of mile-high meringue pies, and a successful line of house seasoning, sauce, and cookbooks (Miss Patti’s Cookbook and The Grace of Patti’s). Waitresses clad in floral peasant dresses bear pewter plates piled high with incredible portions within a maze of interconnected dining rooms decorated in stained glass, quilts, antiques, art, and artificial garlands strung with decorative lights.
Many menu items are named after past chefs at the restaurant or are based on Tullar family lore, like the Boo Boo Pie, a coconut and chocolate delight that Patti’s children proclaimed delicious after a fortuitous flop preparing a pie recipe. Daily specials are offered in addition to the regular menu.
Any seating delays are well-spent in the restaurant’s gift shop, with its assortment of jewelry, gifts and souvenirs, packaged food, and a make-your-own stuffed animal station.
A favorite of tour groups, club gatherings, and prom and wedding parties, Patti’s honors include the 1997 Southern Living magazine Readers’ Choice Award for Best Small Town Restaurant in the Southeastern United States, and the top restaurant for tourism by the state of Kentucky.
Before or after your meal, accompanying youngsters will want to visit the animal park with raccoons, squirrels, peacocks, and other animals; or play miniature golf, coin-operated kiddie rides, playground, and arcade.
The eclectic array of adjoining settlement shops, with clothes, quilts, fine art, and gifts, will likewise lure adults, who will surely marvel at the elaborately landscaped stone walkways with gazebos, seasonal flowers, a working water wheel, fountains, benches, and garden art displays.
Coming attractions include a rock-climbing wall and a center for remote-controlled boats on the duck pond.
Michael Tullar says most people spend about four hours on site, but it’s the fun, family atmosphere permeating Patti’s 1880’s Settlement that keeps visitors coming back year after year.
“My motto is ‘Treat the customers like they’re family coming in for dinner,’ ” he says.
Patti’s 1880’s Settlement
1793 J.H. O’Bryan Avenue
Grand Rivers, KY 42045
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central Time. Closed three to four days during Christmas, New Year’s Day, and the first Sunday of January. Reservations recommended.
Its sister restaurant, Miss Patti’s Iron Kettle Restaurant, is one block south and serves a buffet lunch and dinner, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT, Monday–Saturday. Sunday brunch is 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT. Closed December through mid-March. Call (270) 362-0409 for information.
While planning a visit to the Grand Rivers area, visit www.grandrivers.com for information on these and other attractions:
2005 Hunter’s Moon Festival on October 6-9. Held each year since 1978 in downtown Grand Rivers, this festival is named for the first full moon after the harvest moon, and offers games and activities for children, and a lake cruise (Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon) on The Belle of Grand Rivers, a 55-foot 1890s riverboat replica; vendors, a parade, live entertainment, auction, pageants, and street dance. Free parking.
Lighthouse Landing on Kentucky Lake, www.lighthouselanding.com, (800) 491-7245, is one mile north of Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, www.lbl.org, (270) 924-2000. Take Exit 31 off I-24 (go three miles on Highway 453 to Grand Rivers). Lakeside cottages, a sailing school, sailboat rentals, and marina. Open seven days a week, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. Closed Sundays from December-March.
Shannon Leonard-Boone is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
The Shaker Museum at South Union in Logan County is often overshadowed by and sometimes even confused with Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
Today, Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg is the larger of the two, but it hasn’t always been that way.
Even though the Shakers left South Union more than 80 years ago, their legacy and memories live on through the things they left behind.
The communal religious organization found its way to Logan County and settled at South Union in 1897, 10 miles from Bowling Green and 15 miles from Russellville.
It was simplicity and perfection that was the hallmark of their existence. Their craftsmanship was unparalleled, and their reputation of honesty, humility, and dedication to God is the story that is told to those who visit South Union today.
At one time the Shakers occupied some 6,000 acres of farmland on which 200 buildings were erected, including massive dormitories, shops, outbuilding, barns, stables, and a milling complex. But in 1920, the South Union Shakers began selling their “material” things at a series of well-attended public auctions. Furniture, household items, textiles, tools, and eventually much of the land and buildings that went with it were soon gone.
Lauren Land, operations director at South Union, points out that it is the museum’s mission to educate both adults and children. One of those education days will be held October 1 at their Shaker Farm Day, with admission $6 adults, $2 children ages 6-12, free under age 6.
“We take visitors back to an 1870 harvest season at South Union,” she says. “We have candle making, meat smoking, blacksmithing, and period games the Shakers would have played, like stilt walking, three-legged races, and sack races.”
The Girl Scouts of Kentucky will partner with the Shaker Museum for this event. More than 20 demonstration and hands-on activities will be featured.
Today at South Union there are seven of the original village structures and some 500 acres of land. But it’s the 1824 Centre Family Dwelling House that is the heart and soul of the museum. It is a four-story, 42-room dormitory that houses one of the largest and finest collections of Shaker artifacts in the United States.
Just behind the Centre House is the 1835 smoke and milk house, where visitors can see a collection of workshop equipment made and actually used by the Shakers. The 1847 steam house has been open to the public since 1998, and the ministry shop restoration was completed and opened in 2003.
Other upcoming events include a Civil War Encampment, November 19-20, free with museum admission. Also popular is Christmas at Shakertown Holiday Market, December 2-3, with about 40 fine antique and Southern craft vendors. Ticket prices vary depending on what day you attend.
The Shaker Tavern is located near the Shaker Museum, about a quarter of a mile off Hwy. 68/80. It serves as a bed & breakfast and is available for group meals and gatherings by reservation; (800) 929-8701, www.shakermuseum.com
Shaker Museum at South Union
Located just off Highway 68/80 on State Highway 1466, 10 miles southwest of Bowling Green
850 Shaker Museum Road
South Union, KY 42283
Open March 1–November 30, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday 1p.m.–5p.m.; December 1–February 28, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, closed Sunday. Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 23–January 2.
The town of Auburn is only a few miles from South Union and is a neat little antique community. For more info, contact City Hall at (270) 542-4149 or go online to www.visitlogancounty.com or www.auburnky.com.
Southern Kentucky’s oldest town is Russellville, settled in 1798. Be prepared to spend the day. Beautiful homes and antique shopping. Located 15 miles from Shaker Museum. Call (270) 726-2206 or go online to www.visitlogancounty.com.
Don’t miss the 1817 Saddle Factory, an original brick structure, with carved stone fireplace and early area artifacts. Tours begin at the Visitor’s Center, 280 E. Fourth Street in Russellville. Open 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, May–September. Call (270) 726-4181 or go online to www.logantele.com/~loganhistory.
The Old Southern Bank of Kentucky is where Jesse James and his gang staged their first bank robbery in 1868. The original bank building still stands at Sixth and Main Street in Russellville and is well-marked for a walking tour. It is now a private house.
The Red River Meeting House, Adairville, on Highway 431 South, marks the location where the country entered into a second “awakening” religion revival. A replica of the original meeting house may be visited at Route 663, 3 miles east of 431 South. Call (270) 726-2206 or go online to www.redriverrevival.com.
The Bibb House is the home of Revolutionary War Major Richard Bibb, who freed all of his slaves before he died in 1839. Tours can be arranged at the Visitor’s Center at 280 E. Fourth Street. Call (270) 726-4181, or go online to www.logantele.com/~loganhistory.
Gary P. West is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.