Son Honors Mother, Uplifts the Community

1960
David Gillette, right, and his mother LaFetta Gillette stand in front of the sign at the restaurant sign named after her. Photos by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — When  you get off I40 east at the Cherry Street exit and come up to the light, you notice the distinctive sign, A tall Black edifice with the name LaFetta’s in the center of the sign.

When you pull in the parking lot, the smells of soul food waft out the front door that is constantly opening and closing as the customers file into Knoxville’s newest business.

LaFetta Gillette looking out over the crowds coming to the restaurant built by her son.

In the heart of the inner city, after decades of little or no growth, David Rico Gillette has poured his heart, soul, and finances into this dining establishment. Open every day but Tuesday from 11am till 8 pm;  this  unique restaurant not only features seated dining and take out; it also has an app for your phone, a website and online ordering. Long term plans include adding an event and banquet area.

When  asked why name it after his mother and why place such a nice restaurant in East Knoxville, Mr. Gillette had this to say. “I named it after my mom because having a restaurant has always been her dream. She has been dealing with cancer throughout the years and now it may be a loosing battle. I wanted to do something in her honor and make the rest of her days good ones.” Concerning the location he said, “ I figured East Knoxville would be the best location due to the lack of economic growth and families not having a decent income to support their families. I wanted to give the community job opportunities, a quality business, and job internships for our youth WITHIN their OWN community. I want to provide them training and jobs and help to deter their mindsets from crime and teach them responsibility and how to earn income honestly.”

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