V.J. Murray and his partners have operated several successful retail businesses in the Tri-County area around Oak Ridge, Tenn., for 30 years, so after the three entrepreneurs visited a Pizza Inn buffet restaurant in Knoxville, they immediately began exploring the possibility of bringing the concept to Oak Ridge.

V.J. Murray, his brother, Weldie, and Scott Coker, all agreed that Pizza Inn's signature appeal to value-conscious customers who also demand quality and variety was a perfect fit for the local area.

"There was nothing in Oak Ridge like it, so our decision was easy," V.J. Murray said.

Their new restaurant, which opened Monday at 1501 Oak Ridge Turnpike, isn't just big news for local pizza lovers. It also marks Pizza Inn's first new buffet-style restaurant to open in two years, as the brand continues its nationwide expansion.

"We're proud to be part of the next generation of Pizza Inn buffets," said Murray. "We loved the wide variety of delicious pizzas and other menu items we discovered in Knoxville, and I have no doubt our friends in Oak Ridge are going to welcome the concept here as well."

The new restaurant is Pizza Inn's 11th location in Tennessee and the only pizza eatery in Oak Ridge to feature a pick-up window. The building has a large meeting room that can accommodate groups of up to 60 people, and a game room for birthday parties and other special occasions.

Monday's opening also marks Pizza Inn's return to Oak Ridge. The chain previously operated in the city in the 1970s. A special grand opening celebration is being planned in the next few weeks.

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