Randy Burleson


A Familiar name in Knoxville’s restaurant industry

Randy Burleson opened the first Aubrey’s in Farragut in 1992. While pursuing his MBA at the University of Tennessee, he took a part-time job as a dishwasher and became interested in the industry. From that humble start, a vision was born. The parent company, Burleson Brands, now operates 20 restaurants in East Tennessee. Randy believes that top notch talent is one of the keys to success, and cream does rise to the top. Two of his chefs, Jeff Carter and Danny Wilhoit were big winners in this year’s Top Chefs competition.

Restaurants are like a relationship. You learn from them.

What are the key components in your restaurants?

Top quality ingredients, awesome service, and the very best people. I think that’s a sign of our commitment to make the best food and try to create the best experiences in our restaurants.

What is your biggest challenge?

There’s not enough time in a day. But the biggest challenge today is finding great employees.  The labor market is tighter than ever so you have to make sure you are taking excellent care of your people.

How has the industry affected you personally?

I have learned so much and gained a true appreciation of the value of being a servant. Customers are openly thankful when you give them a quality, relaxed dining experience. There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing happy customers.

On the personal front?

I’m a very fortunate man. I finally got married to the most beautiful bride, Melissa, and we now have a five-year-old daughter, Aubrey Jaye. I am truly blessed.

You’ve got over 200 items on your menus. What’s your favorite item?

If I could eat a filet every day of the week that would be awesome, but I like to try other things too. Fresh catch is always the number one question I ask when I go out to eat dinner.

Do you like to cook at home or eat at one of your own restaurants?

We eat out almost every night. Not only our restaurants, but I like to go to other people’s restaurants. I see so many restaurants doing great things and they inspire me to come into work the next day and make our restaurants better.

Is there a new restaurant concept coming?

Yes, it will be located in Happy Holler. Chef Jeff Carter will be heading up the opening.

Tell us the one thing you’d like to tell all of your guests.

I enjoy what I do. Thank you for letting us be blessed, just a huge “thank you” to everyone who dines with us.  

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