Foglight Foodhouse Creates New Ways to Serve Its Flavorful Food
Updated: Jun 4
By: Atlanta Northcutt --- Reporter for the Southern Standard
Owner, Edward Philpot
Many locally-owned, small restaurants have been impacted by COVID-19, including Foglight Foodhouse, which was the winner of We Are MT’s Best of the Best contest for fish and seafood. This restaurant is well-known for celebratory events, and beautifully prepared meals with an equally as beautiful view of the Caney Fork River. Foglight is also the perfect location for romantic date nights.
Although Foglight’s dining room is currently closed until the second week in June, the restaurant is still finding ways to serve its delectable food. Take-out service is available each Tuesday and Saturday of every week. Foglight on Foot, the restaurant’s food cart, is set up at Silo Brewing Company in Cookeville each Wednesday.
Until Foglight officially reopens, a depiction of its time before the coronavirus hit, and the story of the idea and beginning of the restaurant by owner Edward Philpot, is depicted to provide hope and anticipation of normal life finally taking place again, even if to be the “new normal.”
Entering the Foglight Foodhouse, it is obvious that the experience inside is going to be a unique one, after walking underneath an upside down canoe, which serves as the awning, and viewing the crooked windows beside the door. Rustic and homey, old burlap sacks line the ceiling, along with strands of colored lights. Colorful murals of golden sunflowers and bees, vibrant flowers reaching towards the ceiling on a red background and a plow pushing away an old hay field to allow a continuation of life and growth are painted on the different walls inside. Memorabilia and lake-inspired decor are perfectly placed throughout the restaurant. Wood is a staple piece throughout the entire building giving the feel of an old, yet beloved lake house. A large wrap-around porch provides seating for guests and a beautiful view of Center Hill Lake. Foglight isn’t your typical restaurant where you quickly go in, order, eat and leave. It is a place to relax, enjoy one another’s company and spend time in a natural setting while eating a meal that will both excite your taste buds and bring the comfort of southern home-cooking.
Foglight Foodhouse first opened in a small building in the woods of Walling, TN in January of 1997 by Edward, Ian and Paul Philpot. They quickly realized that the space wasn’t equivalent to what they needed when 170 people were served with only 52 seats available shortly after opening. They secured the land that the restaurant is currently on and began working on the project. Edward, Ian and their father worked with the crew to build and create every aspect of the new Foglight, with the brothers’ father painting the murals that decorate the walls.
Owner and chef, Edward Philpot, credits his mother, who was a caterer and owned a restaurant herself, for giving him the basic knowledge and inspiration to cook. As an adult, Edward became a server at a restaurant in Cookeville after he divorced. He made his way into the kitchen by expressing what he had learned from helping and observing his mother. Once the manager made him the head chef after the previous one quit, he changed the menu, created specials and began incorporating his love for Cajun food, which brought a large crowd to the restaurant. His brother sent him books, videos and tests from two of the top culinary schools, and after three years of working as a chef and studying, he passed all the tests from both programs. He wanted to focus on learning how to make French cuisine, where Cajun originates from, and went to a facility in Louisiana to grow his craft. The instructor gave him a certificate saying he had passed without even taking the classes because he had already learned everything the school was capable of teaching him on his own. Edward returned to Cookeville, working at Red Lobster and the Scarecrow, stealing food to survive and working multiple shifts just to make ends meet.
Edward opened the first Foglight with only seventeen cents to his name and hungry; both physically hungry and hungry to fulfill his dream of being a chef and being happy. He left Red Lobster, where they offered him a high-paying position with benefits, to pursue his dreams with Foglight. The restaurant was opened by all three brothers, but the other two chose different paths, as Edward found his passion and happiness in continuing to be the chef and sole-owner of Foglight Foodhouse.
Foglight operates so well due to the attitude of family and togetherness amongst the staff and the patrons. The atmosphere provides the feeling of being taken care of in a home away from home type of setting. Edward is motivated by making memories through birthday parties, anniversaries, proposals and more special events that often occur at the restaurant instead of just the money aspect of it. Edward says, “There is no point of having anything unless you’re willing to share it.” People feel welcome there and are given the time to interact with one another face-to-face. Regular customers begin to know the servers’ names and have certain tables and wine glasses that are saved especially for them. It is a family-style environment, as well as a getaway from the chaotic, noisy towns and cities without having to travel too far away for that escape.
The restaurant’s food is described as southern gourmet with a mixture of Cajun, British, and deep south American influences. He took his grandmother and grandfather’s experience in cooking southern comfort food and added it into the menu. He then incorporated his mother’s British heritage into the mix. Edward takes ideas from what he’s learned and experienced through his travels and includes those, as well. The menu is changed yearly to take away some items and add others as to not become too predictable but keep the same essence that people have come to love. Fresh seafood, select cuts of meats and dedicated preparation adds to the impeccable taste of the food. Wednesdays are gourmet burger nights, and Thursdays are pub nights, where more of the British foods are introduced.
Foglight is constantly staying busy, especially throughout the summer, when people can sit on the porch, watch the lake and enjoy their food, while having a good time. During summer weekend nights, upwards of 300 people are served. They have also expanded to better benefit the customers and provide more seating, including a room created perfectly for private parties and a bar with local craft beers on tap. Edward foresees a wide change in the menu and structure in the near future. Plans of enclosing the current porch with floor-to-ceiling glass and a stone fireplace, as well as building a new open porch around the indoor dining space is a goal set for the years to come.
Foglight Foodhouse was created from love and family, and the feeling flows throughout the restaurant. The memories made here and being able to share that experience with others is what Edward loves the most. Foglight is located at 275 Power House Rd. in Walling, TN right outside of Rock Island. Visit their website at foglight-foodhouse.com for more information.