Maryville's Walnut Kitchen offering dry-aged steaks and charcuterie in new retail area

Ashley Gaylor's standing as an exceptional butcher was built on experience and offering the finest cuts of meat.

He was 8 years old the first time he tried his hand at butchering. It was in the meat department at his great-grandfather's market — the memorable Cas Walker.

During his 17-year tenure with Butler & Bailey Market, he earned the reputation as the go-to butcher in West Knoxville.

After leaving there, Gaylor spent two years working for Southern Natural Farms in Lexington, Tennessee. The business has its own glowing reputation for growing and acquiring premiere beef and pork products. That's where Gaylor learned best practices for growing a top-of-the-line product.

Combine Gaylor's 17 years at Butler & Bailey with his two years at Southern Natural Farms, and you've got a master butcher who knows the beef business from hoof to table.

That's exactly the attention to detail that Chef David Rule was looking for when he and Gaylor discussed Rule's idea of opening a restaurant with a huge beef presence.

Rule, a meat cutter in his own right, served four years as head butcher for Blackberry Farm, a luxury resort in Walland, before leaving to open his own restaurant.

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Mary Constantine, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published 10:00 a.m. ET Nov. 29, 2017


Inside the Walnut Kitchen, the First Restaurant from a Former Blackberry Farm Butcher

David Rule is home. After two stints at the renowned Tennessee restaurant and hotel Blackberry Farm, including one as the butcher, the chef is opening his first restaurant in his hometown of Maryville, Tennessee. “I don’t know that I know any different because I’ve never really lived anywhere else,” Rule says. “These are my people.”


A small retail butcher counter will give Maryville residents the opportunity to take home the local beef, pork, poultry, lamb, and fish that Rule plans to serve. Plus, the Walnut Kitchen’s location, on a route that leads to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, means that the retail operation, which will also offer burgers, steaks, chicken, and other meats, will fulfill national park visitors’ grilling needs.

Now, with a full staff that’s ready to open — hopefully by the end of the week — Rule looks forward to the Walnut Kitchen becoming an everyday restaurant for the people of Maryville. “From a price point standpoint, we’ve managed to stay at a place where people shouldn’t be afraid to come in here on a regular Tuesday night,” he says.

But given Rule’s fine-dining experience, for special occasions, he’ll offer a six-course tasting menu served at seats by the open kitchen. But, Rule reiterates, “day-to-day, if you want to come in, get a good steak, a good burger, good seasonal vegetables and not have to dress up to do it, we’re definitely that place.”

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by Monica Burton Aug 22, 2017, 12:34pm EDT

Photography by Heather Anne Thomas

David Rule and The Walnut Kitchen, Maryville, Tennessee

"(Butchering) was not something that I really had a lot of experience in, but Sam gave me the opportunity to learn more while working with Blackberry Farm...now it's a huge part of who I am and what I do as a chef."

Tennessee Farm Table

Blount County native to open
The Walnut Kitchen in Maryville

“...The cuisine will be meat focused — beef, chicken, lamb — something that comes natural to him after his last stint at Blackberry Farm, where he served as the butcher/curator of meats. He also has Ashley Gaylor on board to help with the butchering and preservation work that he intends to showcase.

An entire room has been set aside where that magic will occur.


To that end The Walnut Kitchen also will include The Walnut Butcher, a retail area where customers can purchase fresh and preserved meats, breads and other items used at the restaurant. An exterior door at the back of the kitchen will be open for those who aren't dining but want to drop in and purchase a product.


Seasonal ingredients will be the mainstay of his vegetable offerings. He also plans to have seafood on the menu but prefers to offer those as daily specials so that he can ensure the best product is flown in from the coast.”

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Knoxville News Sentinel


Feels like home: Maryville native to open first restaurant

Fourth-generation Maryville native David Rule will open his first restaurant next month, and it’s going to be a love letter to his hometown.

“We’ve been running these roads for a long time,” said Rule, who is getting ready to open The Walnut Kitchen, located at 606 High St. “My dad (Mike Rule) has worked at ALCOA Tennessee Operations, now Arconic, for 32 years. My mom (Lisa Rule) worked at Maryville City Schools. I played ball at Maryville Little League, and I graduated from Maryville High School. As I’ve got older and traveled, I’ve thought a lot about where I want to live. My heart has never strayed. I love this town. It means everything to me.”


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The Daily Times