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J.C. Holdway restaurant is named after Chef Joseph Lenn's late uncle, Joseph Charles Holdway, or “Uncle Joe,” as Lenn called him. The restaurant honors the life-long bachelor, who sought local food establishments daily and returned only to those that provided quality experiences and service. Lenn’s passion for food started as a teenager with lessons on cooking from his grandmother and mother, further bolstered by the stories of Uncle Joe’s food adventures. 

It is our goal at J.C. Holdway to provide a quality, unforgettable experience, one that would never disappoint Uncle Joe. Opening J.C. Holdway in his hometown of Knoxville has been a dream of Lenn’s since he started his professional career. He is honored to be able to celebrate the exceptional producers of the South while cooking over a wood-fire grill.


By using wood-fire techniques, Lenn’s restaurant provides a nod to cooking in an old-world way. While the restaurant uses the latest in wood-fire capabilities, Lenn was inspired by the ways of rural Appalachia before today’s modern conveniences were available. Additionally, he believes that the flavor the wood imparts to the food is something that cannot be recreated by gas or electric cooking and that it further elevates the dish. Lenn created J.C. Holdway with the intention of providing more than just a place to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Instead, we plan to cater to those who want a quality meal for any occasion.


Joseph C. Holdway grew up during the depression, served in the US Army during WWII, graduated from University of Tennessee, and had a successful career in accounting with AT&T/South Central Bell. A lifelong bachelor who lived simply, Uncle Joe devoted his free time to enjoying family, friends, and his hobbies, which included playing duplicate bridge and following sports (especially the Red Sox, the Braves, and UT teams). He was an unforgettable character at an imposing 6’4” in height, with a booming voice, a delightful personality, and a generous spirit. One could always expect to be greeted with a joke, a small bottle of Coke, and a guaranteed good time.

As a lifelong bachelor with no interest in cooking, Uncle Joe dined out for every meal, and he was a regular at an array of restaurants, from his favorite cafeteria to upscale clubs. Because a quality experience was what kept him returning to his favorite establishments, it is our goal at J.C. Holdway to provide that same outstanding level of experience to our guests…one that is, like Uncle Joe, simply unforgettable.

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