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congrats to all of the winners. i like when i go into places and see that "best of east tennessee" plaque hanging by the door. it makes me think i'm making a good decision!
that being said, lets all recognize that this whole "best of east tennessee" contest isn't necessarily a legitimate system. when olive garden is in the running for the best italian food in east tennessee....that is just sad. when dr. bizer's vision world wins best eyeware shop in east tennessee, you have to realize something isn't right. the truth is, only places that have multiple locations, large marketing budgets and put a really high volume of people through their doors have a chance at winning this thing (unless the category is one that doesn't really allow for a large chain to win such as "best soul food"). olive garden has about 10+ locations in east tennessee and fills those locations each night with hundreds of people. they have commercials on tv. a 'mom and pop' authentic italian restaurant might only have 10 tables in the place and be open a couple days a week....i can think of two such places that probably only serve 100 people a week! therefore, by shear numbers, of course the large chain is going to win! dr. bizer's has many locations and has tons of customers, whereas my local optometrist probably has a couple thousand patients. but the quality of his products and service are far superior to dr. bizer's any day... so let's be honest...."the best of east tennessee" is really a volume and popularity contest and not a true measure of what is THE BEST in our region of the state (not to mention the tri-cities, chattanooga, etc are also in east tennessee and aren't included so....it's really false to call this "the best of east tennessee". it should be more accurately named "the best of the KNS main distribution area".)
ok, back to the real world and reality-