Kay’s Ice Cream – Maryville, TN

I had seen on Les Jones’ blog that Kay’s in Maryville had closed. On our way to the mountain cabin on Thanksgiving, we drove by to take a look.

Kay's front

Notice the letters on the front door.

Kay's side

Kay's Sign

Looks like mint chocolate chip to me. I have searched far and wide for an image of the large Kay’s sign with the ice cream cone and the boy on the ladder with the extra long tongue licking it to no avail. The last one I knew of was on Chapman Highway and it dissappeared around the turn of the century.


It brought out some fans. Here on the door is a long letter telling about this family’s long history with Kay’s. I ate there a few times myself over the years.

13 Replies to “Kay’s Ice Cream – Maryville, TN”

  1. This is truly depressing news…I grew up walking to Kays from my friends house everyday in the summer to get a burger with the quarters we find layin around the house. Maryville is truly dying off…

  2. Dammit, ya know, I was sitting here thinking about driving to Maryville and eating at Kay’s … then I see this?

    I guess I’ll go to Ali Baba’s and get a “Vol-burger-Fry-eat-here” instead…

  3. There’s still a Kays Ice Cream. On Chapman Highway in the Colonial Village section of South Knoxville. It’s the last one left.

  4. Actually, I think there are a couple in the Tri-Cities area. I say that, but it has been a couple of years since I was there. The Halls location closed not too long ago. The one on Clinton Highway was the last to have the large ice cream cone sign with the boy on the ladder licking it.

  5. I always loved Kays Ice cream and there delious hotdogs,whe I worked in Knoxville in the 60’s and 70’s that is where I would eat,I moved to Cleveland,Tn and they had Kays Kastle but served the same menu as kays at Knoxville,I am still looking for Kays Ice Cream at the Supermarkets but none to be found,Does anyone know if they still make Ice cream theres and Mayfieleds are the only ones fit to eat.

  6. I remember going to the Kay’s in Crossville when I was a kid.
    There was wallpaper in the joint that was nothing but dots-maybe 2 inches in diameter. They held a contest once to see who could guess how many dots were on the wall. Apparently someone at one time had to count in order to have a contest. Also, one year, Santa parachuted from an airplane and had ice cream coupons from Kay’s.
    I never went to the Maryville Kay’s, but when I move back to Knoxville in December, I plan on going to the Chapman Hwy. Kay’s again to support the business and childhood memories.

  7. I’m told their ice cream is still available at one of the grocery stores. Food City maybe? This Kay’s is nearly ready to open again as of this last weekend. I has been renovated and will be an ice cream place again. It looks nice and they kept the ice cream cone sign.

  8. I was born in Knoxville & my daddy and family were born in Fountain City. We moved to Tx when I was only 3 but returned to Knox every summer vacation to see family BUT even before we would go to my grandmothers house we ALWAYS stopped @ KAy to get tamales! My daddy loved them so much he finally talked them into giving him the receipe and we made them in TX @ home for @ least 35 yrs. I am now 62 and my daddy has passed away. I would so like to carry on our family tradition of making those tamales for my daddy. I do have the receipe but of course I dont have any more papers after he died. I think he used to have his sister go by Kays & buy them to send to him. Every yr I think about those tamales & my kids even ask me when Im going to make them. I could use shucks but I want the authenic papers like my daddy loved to use. Could u PLEASE tell me how I could get some of those papers to make tamales? I cant even find a phone no website or anybody to contact until I saw u! Uf you worked @ Kays all those yrs in Knox you probably knew my daddy! His name was Hubert Yarbrough. Please let me know if you can help me find out where I can still get those papers ! Sincerely, Nancy Merrifield 3425 Beekman Dr. Keller TX 76248 (817)562-1410 or (817)909-3847 MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU IN THE COMING YEAR!

  9. Yes, Food City would be correct. They have made an effort to keep producing the local brands that have gone out of business. Nancy, email me, I would be happy to stop by Chapman Highway one day and pick those papers up for you.

  10. I shopped at Food City last week and reached in the freezer to pick up a Breyer’s ice cream and noticed that the container had shrunk big time! That’s when I noticed the Kay ice creams right next to Breyer’s. I had never heard of them before but bought the black raspberry in a ‘full sized’ container, not skimpy like Breyer’s, and for 50 cents less. And we love it! It’s delicious!

  11. The last of the original Kay’s Ice Cream stores is the one in Colonial Village in South Knoxville. The owners closed the Maryville location because they couldn’t renew their lease. They haven’t made their own ice cream since the 1980’s, but what they sell is good quality ice cream. The stuff sold in Food City grocery stores has the Kays name on the carton, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the real Kay’s Ice Cream.

  12. We just tried Kay’s ice cream at the Value King Supermarket here in Ohio. It is the best ice cream we have ever had, and it is very reasonably priced. Thanks Value King for giving us Kay’s.

  13. I would love to know about the Kays hamburgers in Maryville, Tn. They had the best burgers very thin and the meat tasted a little different than the real hamburger meat from the grocery store. Does anybody know what kind of burgers those were? Soy burgers maybe? I would love to know, they were delicious!

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