Blue Circle to serve burgers, more out of former Sammons

Published 10:25 am Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo

The circle burger is making its way back to Elizabethton as well as to a few other places in East Tennessee.

Bart Long, owner of Bristol’s Blue Circle, has plans to expand the business to five more locations within the next 24 months.

“We’ve been planning this for months,” Long said. “The store in Bristol just rocks.”

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Long also hopes to bring that same sense of success to areas like Morristown, Greeneville, Kingsport and back to the company’s original location ­— Knoxville.

“We are working our way back to where they started,” Long said.

Homer Longmire founded Blue Circle in 1931. Beginning in Knoxville, the restaurant became a chain with about 30 total locations.

“The motto of the chain was, ‘A happy place for hungry people,’ ” according to “The house specialty was a grilled burger, diced onions and mustard on a steamed bun. Breakfast was also served, along with french fries, chili, onion rings, pork barbecue, as well as baked goods from the Blue Circle bakery.”

A change in ownership brought about difficult times for the restaurant chain, and by 1975 all locations were closed.

Long and Todd Buchanan took ownership of the Bristol Blue Circle building in 2012.

While the Blue Circle brand seems to sell itself, Long said Elizabethton has special ties to the company with an old store donning the logo near downtown.

“Our food and the brand is well-known already, so that part we don’t have to worry a whole lot about,” Long said.

With customers traveling from places like Knoxville and Morristown to experience Bristol’s Blue Circle, Long hopes it has a positive impact on Elizabethton.

“I think it will be a great thing for the community,” he said. “People do travel just to eat here. I think it will be a great asset.”

With the Krystal restaurant closure, Blue Circle General Manager Kelly Kitts thinks the new store will fill a void in Elizabethton.

“We’ve had a lot of interest since we’ve put the sign up,” Kitts said. “We’ve had a lot of applications come in, too.”

A ‘coming soon’ sign was recently placed outside of the Sammons location along Highway 19E. It also states that the company is hiring.

“We purchased the Sammons location on Highway 19E a month ago,” Long said.

Long’s plan is to have the Elizabethton opening in roughly two or three months.

“We are looking at 60 to 90 days before the opening,” Long said. “We will also need to have the signs changed and the building painted.”

For more information, call Blue Circle at 764-4732 or visit them online at