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Knoxville News Sentinel
It was not an easy decision. After the birth of his grandchild, owner of Pete’s restaurant, Pete Natour, told Knox News he spent months deciding how to balance work and family life in the future.
The ultimate decision: Close the downtown restaurant on Saturdays after December 18, which will give him and his wife, Rita, more time to spend with the family.
âIt was a blessing and a curse,â Pete said. “It’s really hard for me because I’ve been working for so long. I’ve been working since I was 13.”
“It’s all about the family”
Over the years, the work has become more demanding. Pete comes home with joint pain, he said, and his family previously suggested it might be time to hang up the spatula.
After watching his kids graduate from college, Pete thought about selling the business. Without his son Joey, the restaurant might have already been sold, he said.
Joey and his wife, Leticia, had a baby earlier this year. As the family grows, Pete and Rita want to spend more time with their granddaughter.
âIt’s a family matter,â said Pete. “Family first.”
Adapt to the new schedule
Nothing will change Monday through Friday, according to a Tweet from the restaurant. The business has always been closed on Sundays.
âBusiness and (livelihood) are extremely important, but are never the main priority in life,â the Tweet said. “We’re very sorry if this bothers some of you.”
But Pete hasn’t heard a lot of criticism. In fact, people reached out to say he was making the right decision.
The situation got even more complicated with COVID-19. Friends died early on from the virus, he said, and his father died before the pandemic.
His dad has worked his whole life, Pete said, and he doesn’t want the same fate.
Pete also struggled to find help running the restaurant. The only solution was to reduce.
Looking back on 35 years of activity
He doesn’t worry about the impact on business, although Saturday can be the busiest day.
There are plenty of other restaurants open for breakfast on weekends, Pete said, and he’s confident people will find time to visit the family-run restaurant.
The restaurant has been open for 35 years and celebrities are known to stop for a bite to eat in town. Knox News sat down with Pete earlier this year to reflect on more than three decades of activity.
Kiefer Sutherland was the most random celebrity appearance, he said, while Lou Ferrigno had the biggest appetite. But a hanging photo of Harrison Ford usually gets the best responses from customers.
âWe love to be a part of the downtown small business community,â Pete said at the time. âMost of our clients work downtown and visit us frequently, so we get to know them well. Professionals will come here and discuss ideas with us or just let off steam and share their day.
“It looks like a small but strong community of people helping each other.”
Want to visit Pete’s?
After December 18, Pete’s Restaurant will be open Monday through Friday. Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday, depending on the restaurant website.
Pete said the most popular breakfast order is two eggs, two blueberry pancakes, and a choice of bacon or sausage.
“For lunch, it’s the burger!” he previously told Knox News. “We give generous portions at Pete’s. This is how we have always eaten at home in my family, and this is how we want to serve our customers.”
Pete’s Restaurant is located at 540 Union Ave. in downtown Knoxville.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect Pete Natour is not expecting another grandchild.