Jason Gross’s great-grandfather was the famous James Cottrell, the preacher from Virginia who taught Johnny Goins to rack pool. James and his son Charles “Strawbery” Cottrell helped build Pat’s Snack Bar with brothers Pat and Clyde House, and James worked there 35 years, until he died in 1987. Jason, too, worked at Pat’s in his youth, and after some years on the road, returned because he was homesick. He describes a chili bun with everything as chili, onions, mustard, and cheese, though says Pat’s will put chili on anything. Every cook at Pat’s (Jason, Johnny, and Travis) has their own take on the chili, which they’ve served to folks from across the country. Jason remembers shipping burgers to New York even: We would put the patty in one box and the buns and the rest of the fixings in the other. Mail it to her [the customer] overnight, and she’d call us the next day and tell us that she got it.”
Read Jason’s oral history as part of our Eastern Kentucky Chili Bun project.