By John J. Duncan Jr.
A little over 43 years ago, I met a young and beautiful woman at Regas Restaurant who a few months later became my wife, Lynn.
Several of the most important events in my life took place at that great restaurant.
Lynn was one of the best waitresses Regas ever had, and she still says she married me in spite of the fact that I was one of her worst tippers.
Zane Daniel took me to Regas to have the lunch where we agreed to go into law practice together.
In 1973, young lawyers in Knoxville were starting out at $600 to $800 a month. Zane told me he would pay me $1000 a month, but if I didn’t make $15,000 my first year, that I “ought to have my rear end kicked.”
He bought our office furniture, paid me $1,000 and we formed the firm of Daniel and Duncan. We added his brother Creed’s name to our sign and letterhead to make it look like we had two offices. A couple of weeks later I got a $2,000 fee in a criminal case, and I gave Zane back his $1,000.
We didn’t rip people off on fees and had more business than we could handle. Zane and I were very different. Somebody once said I worked the morning shift while he worked the evening shift.
Bur we never had a disagreement, and he and I remained close to the end. I was with him in Seattle when he died. Lynn and I named our second son after Zane.
And that brings me to another special lunch at Regas. Lynn had been told after having John, our third child, that she probably could not have any more children.
Thus, about five years later, I got one of the most pleasant shocks of my life when she gave me the great news at Regas that she was pregnant with a child who turned out to be our son, Zane.
Bill Regas appeared on a television program supporting my father the last time he ran for Mayor in 1963. So, our ties to the Regas Family go way back.
Bill Regas later became President of the National Restaurant Association, and his famous clam chowder soup was served at the inauguration meal for President Reagan.
Many famous people ate at Regas, such as Johnny Bench and Newt Gingrich. Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, worked there as a teenager. Lynn once waited on Liberace.
One last Regas story; Zane and I were having lunch there one day, and the restaurant was packed. Dick Crenshaw, an advertising man came in, saw us and shouted out, “Zane Daniel, I had a nightmare about you last night.” The customers were shocked into silence. Then Crenshaw said, “I dreamed I was charged with first degree murder and you were appointed as my lawyer.”
Bill Regas is a good and kind man and Regas was a great restaurant and a very special place to me.