An older style of Pal's in downtown Kingsport, which I assume is the original location. It definitely has that 1960's vibe.
Another view a bit closer to the building.
Pal's is found in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, but mostly Tennessee. It's furthest south location is Greeneville, furthest west Morristown and furthest north Norton, VA. I did not have a chance to try it while I was there, but I can honestly say that it looks to have a standout menu compared to many larger chains for a rather diverse palate much like Hardee's used too. Serving items such as the "Sauceburger", "Chipped Ham", "Chiliburger" and a chili dog alongside the usual burger and fries sounds a bit unique and fun. Considering how the chain has grown, it must be decent. It definitely seemed to attract more business than regional chain Jacks in Alabama did, but nothing on here could be easy for the waistlines of the area (except maybe the Chipped Ham sans mayo).
This much newer location is a bit frightening. Most look like this. This is across from Fort Henry Mall in Southland Shopping Center, which once housed a (Kuhn's) Big K.
Besides the food, what also stands out about Pal's is the absolutely frightful decor used on the place. The logo itself is the name inside a sunburst, and the buildings themselves have hideous turquoise tile topped with a big fake hot dog. In fact, the only location I saw that was different was in downtown Kingsport, which I am guessing is the flagship. Both styles are featured here for comparison as well. I guess it was good I went downtown or I wouldn't have seen both. The older style looks more like a vintage 1960's piece in the vein of the early Burger Chef, but I found it was more eye-catching and appetizing than a cotton candy colored cube.
Here is the sign at the Southland Shopping Center location across from Fort Henry Mall. After eating a Sauceburger, play vollyball with them. Maybe they'll do tenis next week.
The whole phenomenon of local fast food joints are curious, though it is well known that all started out as such. Probably why some are national while others are not has a lot to do with the location. Consider that McDonald's and Taco Bell both started in California, which is probably how they obtained a national following vs. something found in a place like Kingsport. I can think of many other examples of local chains like Pal's including fore-mentioned Jack's in Birmingham, The Varsity in Atlanta, Lion's Choice in St. Louis, Krystal in Chattanooga, Rush's in Columbia among others. Some, such as Lion's Choice, I would love to expand out of their region. In all, local chain restaurants are always part of my curiosity of making retail trips to cities across the South, I am glad to feature this rather unique local flavor.