With intense ambition and a lot of hard work, Najwan Natour has truly lived the American dream. His family emigrated to the U.S. from Palestine after the 1967 war when Najwan was only five year old. “My parents realized it was not a good situation and we had to leave,” Najwan remembers. His father came here first and eventually was able to have his wife and children join him. Like most newly arrived immigrants, his father, Naji, took whatever jobs he could get in order to support his family. Naji initially worked as a server at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. with his siblings. He learned English along the way, and after moving south to Knoxville, he opened and operated The Copper Kettle restaurant with his brothers, Samir and Sami. It was this endeavor that gave Najwan his first “taste” of the restaurant business and decided his destiny.
After he graduated from West High School, Najwan moved to Florida to co-own and operate a deli with his father and uncle. It was this experience that led him to acknowledge his need for more education, and he returned to Knoxville to earn an associate degree in business administration from Knoxville Business College.
Throughout the following years, Najiwan had owned and co-owned four eating establishments, including the popular Froggy’s and Time Out Deli with his cousin, Maurice, before striking out on his own 12 years ago with Nick & J’s Cafe off Lovell Road. He named his fifth restaurant for his beloved sons, Nick and Jordan. Najwan made the conscious decision to put his family first. “I wanted to have more time to spend with my family, my sons, as they were growing up.” And he was able to do just that by attending their school and sports activities until both sons graduated from Knoxville Catholic High School.
His older son, Nick, went on to earn a University of Tennessee degree in neuroscience and is currently back at UT for a second bachelor’s degree and to complete a master’s degree. Jordan, now a junior at UT majoring in sports management, had an internship with ESPN and has already been offered a job at the Arkansas State Football Program. Najiwan is very proud that they are both honor students and made sure to never push his sons to follow him in the restaurant business, saying, “I wanted them to find their own ways in life.”
Najwan’s wife, Linda, now works with him at the restaurant after leaving a long career in banking. And just as Najwan helped his father at The Copper Kettle, Sedo (Arabic for grandfather) Naji, along with his mother, Abla, come in every morning to lend a hand getting the restaurant ready for the day – truly a Natour family affair!
At Nick & J’s Cafe, everything is made fresh daily – from locally sourced ground beef, chicken, and eggs to fresh locally marketed produce. Their delicious ice cream comes from It’s All So Yummy Cafe, and scrumptious baked goods are made from scratch by Tee Dedrick of Special Tee Cookies. To date, Nick & J’s Cafe has been featured on the Food Network, CNN, Fox News/Fox & Friends, and the USA Today newspaper. TripAdvisor has bestowed their Travelers’ Choice Award for 2021 on Nick & J’s Cafe and also has them ranked as the “3rd Best Restaurant to Visit” in all of Knox, Loudon, Sevier, and Blount counties. And there are honestly just too many 5-star reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google to count!
Nick & J’s Cafe just celebrated its 12-year anniversary serving all your breakfast favorites – from traditional omelets and pancakes to legendary breakfast bowls. At lunch, they serve the best burgers (nationally recognized!), sandwiches, salads, and daily specials, including vegetarian options. Stop in for a taste of their gyros, pastrami brisket, or reubens – you won’t be disappointed! Najwan is thankful for everything he has achieved, saying, “I give all the glory to God, my parents, my wife, Linda, and our employees. It would not have been possible without them.”
With his decades of experience, Najwan now helps others wanting to begin or improve their own restaurants – offering his expertise on everything from start-up locations, to expanding menu items, to food service management. Be sure to contact him for a truly knowledgeable consultation of the restaurant business.
Visit your local hometown diner from 7 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday and 8 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Weekday breakfast is served from 7 to 10:30 am and from 8 to 11:30 am on Saturdays. Nick & J’s is respectfully closed on Sundays. You’ll find their menu, location, and additional information at www.nickandjscafe.com or call 865-766-5453. Stop by soon – you’re sure to love it!!
Nick & J’s Cafe
1526 Lovell Road
Knoxville, TN 37932