C-Store Staples With Local Flair

Calloway’s Tennessee Kitchen features “affordable, delicious regional food.”

C-Store Staples With Local Flair

November 2023   minute read

By: Al Hebert

Above from left, Trenton Langston, EZ Stop VP of Operations Brian Cosentino and Vince Seery.

Calloway Oil Company started in 1957 as a wholesale distributorship. The company’s first convenience store, EZ Stop Food Mart, opened in 1984 in Maryville, Tennessee.

The company stayed in the family and grew. It now has 24 convenience store locations. Trenton Langston is the fourth generation to work at the company. When he came on board, he looked at where the business needed to go.

“We knew we needed to start something new,” Langston said. “Food is a huge part of our future going forward. Convenience and quality foods are part of our vison for success.” Calloway’s Tennessee Kitchen opened in September of 2022 in an EZ Stop.


“We’re a family business. We want to have the best ingredients and feed other families as we would feed our own. We try to stick to a simple pantry of ingredients that you might have in your own home but use them in a way that celebrates the quality of the food and creates fun experiences right in our gas stations,” Langston said.

To follow through on Calloway’s Tennessee Kitchen’s commitment to using local and regional products, Langston employed a strategy that is a bit outside the box. The team spent a couple of months working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Nourish Knoxville Farmers Market and the University of Tennessee Culinary Institute. “We met with the local agriculture extension agent to see how we could go 100% local, but then realized we would need to start with a few key items and work on expansion. We don’t claim to be local all the time, but we are continuing to try,” Langston explained.

“We are blessed to have a lot of great products like James Beard Award-winning Benton’s Bacon right in our backyard, as well as many other great local products, like Sweetwater Valley Farms cheese, Springer Mountain Farms chicken, dairy from Cruze Farm and Swaggerty’s Farm sausage,” he said.

Langston is passionate about the food in his region of the country. “East Tennessee and Appalachia have great food with wonderful regional flavors. No one was making it accessible to everyone,” he said. “We saw a void in the market for affordable, delicious regional food, and there is no reason it can’t come from a convenience store. Calloway’s Tennessee Kitchen pushes the envelope on what you can order and enjoy without a sit-down experience.”

The first Calloway’s Tennessee Kitchen is part of an EZ Stop location in Maryville, Tennessee. Customers can order at the pick-up window or use the drive-thru.


“Once we had everything in place, we needed to find the right person to take our vision to the next level,” Langston said. “We got Vince Seery, a highly talented restaurant manager with great experience working in high-end steakhouses.”

A Maryville-area resident of 17 years, Seery was familiar with the Calloway family. After seeing the first prototype kitchen and the investment the family had made, he knew that he and Langston would make a good team.

“Vince took the handful of recipes that we developed with the UT Culinary institute and my humble experience from my own kitchen and combined it with his robust knowledge of commercial kitchens and operations to bring the vision to life,” said Langston.

To give the new team experience, first responders were invited to come in and eat for free. “We are highly invested in our first responders and wanted to show our appreciation for the sacrifices they make. It also gave us valuable experience,” Seery said.

When it comes to hiring staff, Seery has a simple strategy: “We believe in nice people. We want to hire people that customers would like to come back and visit.”

Chicken Tenders and Other Staples

People love chicken tenders, and it’s no surprise that Calloway’s Tennessee Kitchen has taken them to the next level.

“We are famous for our chicken tenders,” Langston said. “We have a very traditional Southern dry-wet-dry hand-breaded process, seasoned with our own blend of spices combined with a buttermilk egg wash that delivers consistent lightly breaded and flavorful chicken.”

The chicken has a big role in all dayparts. “Breakfast is big for us,” Langston said. “We knew if we were going to have a chicken biscuit, it had to be a darn good one.”

A good burger doesn’t have to be outlandish.”

Calloway’s covers all the bases by offering a traditional fried chicken biscuit and a specialty biscuit that highlights its suppliers, appropriately called the Local. “It’s a fresh-cooked biscuit with a hand-breaded chicken tender, Benton’s Bacon, Sweetwater Valley cheddar cheese and house-made Swaggerty’s sausage gravy. It will set you right for the day,” said Langston.

This is a big sandwich. It even led to a contest that got attention for the business and helped the community.

Langston explained how it worked. “We had a speed-eating contest for local charities. We put a Local in front of each contestant. It was done in the forecourt by the pumps and island. The winner ate it in one minute and 51 seconds. All contestants got money for charity.”

The burgers have also gained a following. Using handmade, never-frozen beef patties, the burgers are cooked to order. Calloway’s also offers a medium-cooked patty.

“Not a lot of places will cook a burger to medium and sell it out of a drive-thru window, but for us it’s about the taste, the juiciness, the seasoning and giving the customer what they want,” said Seery.

Langston emphasized the attention to detail. “A good burger doesn’t have to be outlandish. Our goal is to present you with a great all-American cheeseburger with fresh ingredients and local produce whenever available.”


A new flagship location will soon open, with more on the horizon.

“We want to bring our vision and our food to more people. We will continue to evolve our relationship with regional and local suppliers. Our goal is to take what we’ve achieved at our current location and bring it to each new kitchen, which includes the renovation of existing locations to accommodate Calloway’s Tennessee Kitchens. By the middle of next year, we anticipate offering five locations in East Tennessee, and we could not be more excited,” Langston concluded.

Al Hebert

Al Hebert

Al Hebert is the Gas Station Gourmet, showcasing America’s hidden culinary treasures. Find him at www.GasStationGourmet.com.

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