This afternoon, I had to head to extreme north Shelby County for a meeting near Shelby Forest. On the drive, I kept seeing signs for the Shelby Forest General store, which the signs positioned as a magical and old-timey place where steaks were served on Friday nights, ice was available by the bag, and live bluegrass music marked the coming of the weekend.
I was (as always) early and hungry, so I decided to stop and get some lunch.
The rustic general store sits between the two main entrances to Shelby Forest park, which makes it the prime spot for picking up any last minute camping needs. The shelves are stocked with groceries, sodas, six packs and snacks, and an entire wall at the back of the store is covered in multicolored Frisbees. Handwritten signs (one in sharpie implores visitors to “ask about the $10,000 reward“) and photos from trips to the forest are tacked up everywhere.
A large portion of the general store is devoted to a diner-style restaurant that serves just about everything. The menu jumps from fried delicacies (mushrooms, poppers, etc.) to burgers and turkey melts, to catfish fillet plates and steaks. Even on steak night, none of the food costs more than $10.
I ordered a world famous cheeseburger, which comes recommended (at least at the 2009 Grammys) by Millington native Justin Timberlake. I ate mine sitting at the counter, under the watchful eye of a veritable forest of taxidermied critters. My burger, which came wrapped in wax paper and held together with toothpicks, was huge and juicy. It was topped with cheddar cheese, a tomato slice, lettuce, ketchup, mustard and chopped red onions. While it wasn’t the most amazing burger I’ve ever had, it was far from the worst. It was fresh, filling, and best of all, cheap – my sandwich and a drink came to $5.75.
When I was leaving, I had almost made it off of the store’s porch and back to my car when I heard a weird noise. It was part porch squeak and part animal. I turned around and realized that I had somehow managed to walk past a ginormous wild bird. It sort of looked like a rooster, but given that it was way bigger than any chicken I’ve ever seen, I’m going to guess that it may have been a turkey.
I’ve seen turkeys shrink wrapped for Thanksgiving and bottles of Wild Turkey, but neither prepared me for how large actual, free-range turkeys are. It was the height of a beagle with the girth of a large bulldog. It’s talons were like medium-sized human hands. As I was getting into my car, a small child was attempting to befriend it.
Though the 75 year-old store is only about 30 minutes away from downtown Memphis, the distance seems much further. It’s open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
7729 Benjestown Road
Millington, TN 38053-5013