Last Kay's Ice Cream closes in South Knoxville

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A South Knoxville eatery dating back to 1946 announced it would close its doors Saturday evening.

Manager Theresa Gregory confirmed that Kay's Ice Cream would be closing because of the challenge to stay profitable. The restaurant was established at 6200 Chapman Highway, with the iconic giant ice cream cone looming taller than the restaurant or its sign.

Several regular customers have been stopping for lunch or treats throughout the week between Christmas and New Year's weekend. The manager noted customers have been coming in larger numbers now that they've heard of the closing. She said the last day would be Saturday, December 30, from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The restaurant employs four people, two of them full-time. It's not clear if there are new job prospects for any of them.

"We was trying to not let the employees know until after Christmas so we wouldn't upset them so much, but the rumor got out before we had a chance," Gregory said.

Gregory explained that at one time, there were as many as 146 Kay's restaurants throughout the Southeast. She last worked at the Maryville location before it shut down.

Kay's serves hot sandwiches and tamales, as well as scooped ice cream. Drinks include sodas, fresh-squeezed lemonade, iced tea and colorful punch.