Daddy Mac’s has pub fare with a Southern twang

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

There are little pieces of Dave McFarland’s heritage all over his new eatery, Daddy Mac’s Down Home Dive. There’s the green Cadillac painted by the bar, a reminder of his grandfather, Daddy Mac, who drove such a car to church on Sundays. There’s a portrait of his other grandparents, Nana and Papa, who inspired McFarland’s recipe for sweet and spicy pickles.

His family is found in his menu, too. The Craving, a sharable made of sweet potato waffle fries topped with “Brew-B-Q Beans,” pulled pork, cheese, onions, pimiento cheese and “Pickle De Gallo,” is inspired by a snack he created for his constantly-hungry pregnant niece a few years ago.

He’s contemplated his vision for a scratch kitchen “steeped in family tradition and pickle juice” since 2016. In spite of the difficulties of operating a restaurant during a pandemic, he moved forward with opening the new concept two weeks ago.

“You just know when the time is right,” he says.

Daddy Mac’s has a prime location just off exit 373 within walking distance of three hotels. McFarland operated a Wild Wing Café there for 14 years before converting to his own concept. He still owns four Wild Wing Café locations, and he hopes to add new Daddy Mac’s locations in the future. He’d like to open restaurants in western North Carolina, where Daddy Mac lived.

The interior of the restaurant is full of repurposed elements that remind him of the mountains of North Carolina and his grandparents. Recycled barn wood on the walls came from two hundred-year-old barns, and corrugated metal on the bar and walls provides a rural ambiance. McFarland created interior columns out of kegs and light fixtures out of old beer buckets to add a cozy, relaxed atmosphere. He hopes the casual ambiance will encourage the gathering of friends.

The menu is designed to promote the sharing of food. His trademarked “Bar-B-Cue-Terie Board” features a collection of meats, like smoked brisket and wings, candied bacon and barbecued meatballs, along with sides like pickles, slaw and Cheerwine BBQ Sauce. He enjoys bringing the boards to customers himself to see their reactions.

The presentation of the food also helps set the mood. Some menu items, like mac and cheese and cobbler, are served in iron skillets. Another trademarked concept is his “Salad Bar in a Jar,” which includes a selection of greens, proteins and toppings served in a Mason jar with dressing on the side. Pouring the dressing on and shaking the jar promotes even coverage.

“People eat with their eyes, so presentation is important to me,” he says.

Music is also important to him. The current schedule features acoustic entertainment Wednesday through Sunday nights. McFarland hopes to add bluegrass to the music menu on Tuesdays, and bands will return in early July.

Because of the ongoing issues related to the pandemic, he’s opted for a slow-but-steady opening. He hosted a soft-opening, invitation-only party to kick off the concept, and his only other marketing is on Facebook. The slow ramp-up will help him deal with staffing and supply-chain hiccups. After being open for just a week, he opted to close the restaurant on Mondays because he sold out of food.

As a lover of pimiento cheese, I look forward to a fully-opened Daddy Mac’s, located at 11335 Campbell Lakes Drive in Farragut. Current hours of operation are 4 p.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday and Sunday, and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.

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