The origins of Stokely Hospitality Enterprises, the parent company of Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Applewood Farmhouse Grill, has a rich history dating back to 1776. Today, the Stokely family continues their tradition of excellence and character by offering down-home southern favorites to more than a million guests per year. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant proudly holds the rank of Sevierville’s Oldest Restaurant and is fully committed to guest satisfaction. Read below about the history of Stokely Hospitality Enterprises and how the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant started in Sevierville.
A member of the Stokely family was bestowed a piece of land near Del Rio, Tennessee as a reward for serving in The Revolutionary War.
John B. Stokely, one of the Stokely sons, inherited the Stokely family piece of land after graduating from Emory College and serving as the Director of the East Tennessee Farm Association.
John Stokely and native Cocke County resident, Anna Rorex Stokely, got married. Soon after their wedding, they started the tradition of farming and selling their produce locally with a farm of their own nestled along the French Broad River not far downstream from Anna’s childhood home.
At age 49, John Stokely passed away leaving behind five sons and two daughters. His wife, Anna, and two of his sons along with a close family friend began to look at opportunities to expand the business. Even after losing her beloved husband, Anna Remained a woman of strong character and faith. She was determined that her sons receive a college education to follow in their father’s example of hard work. One by one, the brothers took turns completing their college degree and returned to the family business to help better support Anna and their growing company.
During the first year of their new business venture, 4,000 cases of tomatoes were canned and hauled by wagon then shipped by boat to markets in Knoxville and Chattanooga. The business was off to a successful start! After much success, Anna and her two sons decided to buy out the family friend and transformed the company into a Stokely family business by bringing their other brothers into the family business.
The company’s success was said to be due largely to the talent contributed by each brother. James Stokely ran the business and served as President and CFO. William Stokely managed the farms and crops. John Stokely oversaw all sales of canning goods. George Stokely, a recent MIT graduate, became the inventive genius and provided many mechanical innovations. Anna remained the glue of the Stokely business by providing advice and encouragement for the family and welcoming the growing stream of salesmen and food industry leaders who passed through the doors daily. As years passed the company continued to strive, survived nationwide financial panics, and expanded into other cities. The Stokely Brothers grew to be one of America’s largest vegetable canning companies.
Anna and her youngest son, George, passed away tragically in a car-train accident.
John, the second oldest son, passed away suddenly at the age of forty-three.
James, the middle son, passed away. Within 5 years, the Stokely family lost their mother and three of the four founding figures of the Stokely business. William B. Stokely Sr. stepped up along with other family members and kept the business going … and growing.
The Stokely Brothers Canning Company brought their operations to the Town of Tellico, Tennessee and by the following year, the Stokely family had acquired more than 1400 acres.
The Stokely Brothers Canning Company acquired the canning portion of the Van Camp Packing Company in Indianapolis, Indiana and the company became Stokely Van Camp, Inc.
The Stokely Van Camp, Inc. operation expanded once again with the purchase of a cotton mill in Tellico, Tennessee for use as a warehouse. The plant continued to process sauerkraut, green beans, corn, peas, tomatoes, lima beans and other locally grown vegetables for the next 56 years.
Stokely Van Camp, Inc. acquired U.S. Rights to Gatorade and became the first company to market sports drinks.
The Bon Hicks family and the Bill Kilpatrick family purchased the 65-acre property from Roger Mullendore. The farm operated as a beef cattle and burley tobacco farm.
The two families decide to plant apple orchards on the farm.
The Hicks and the Kilpatricks called upon Stokely Hospitality Enterprises to create Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant by expanding the original farmhouse and transforming it into a family eatery.
Due to growing popularity of Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, Stokely Hospitality Enterprises decided to build another restaurant to help manage the overflow of guests and the long wait to be seated at The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.
Stokely Hospitality Enterprises remains part of Sevier County, Tennessee and has been a permanent fixture since 1975. As the parent company of Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Applewood Farmhouse Grill, the Stokely family continues their tradition of excellence and character by offering down-home southern favorites to more than a million guests per year. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant proudly holds the rank of Sevierville’s Oldest Restaurant and is fully committed to guest satisfaction. The seasoned staff and management take pride in living up to the standards of the company mission statement “To provide exceptional customer experience in a unique hospitality setting by creating great memories for our valued guests who feel welcomed and treated like family by our family of employees.” From the Farmhouse to your house… it is all about Friends, Family and Fritters!