Skip to content

VIProfile: Patricia Bible

Story by Gay Lyons

Patricia Bible, cofounder of KaTom Restaurant Supply with her late husband Tim, was one of four children raised by extended family in Morristown, Tennessee. “My grandmother retired to take care of us,” she recalled. “My mother worked several jobs while going to school to become an LPN. Going through hard times can drag you down or if you choose, you can grow and become a better person.”

Bible’s first jobs were at Petie’s Swimming Pool in Morristown. “Petie took a special interest in children not as advantaged,” she said. “I started in ‘the dungeon’ and ‘the cave’ and worked up to the concession stand and lifeguard. In the winter, I worked at the bowling alley, setting pins and working in the concession stand. If you worked hard, you could make the swim team. My swim coach was a tough woman. My whole life was driven and directed by strong women who demanded a lot.”

Bible describes her husband Tim as “very entrepreneurial.” 

“When we met, he owned laundromats and was building an apartment complex,” she said. “His dad opened the first Western Sizzlin restaurant in Morristown. At one point, his father went to Longview, Texas, to open a Western Sizzlin. It was supposed to take six months, but Tim stepped in and opened it in three weeks.”

The couple traveled the country with a crew opening Western Sizzlin restaurants. At Tim’s suggestion Bible became a pilot, taking instruction from Evelyn Johnson, another strong woman. “She’d rap my knuckles with a ruler if I did something wrong,” she said.

“I had all these influences pushing me towards excellence,” she continued. “I was raised to be religious, but my mother-in-law, Kathryne Bible, another strong woman in my life, taught me to be spiritual. She taught me to have that vertical relationship with Christ and God. I have this saying: ‘GGT. God Got This.”

“Tim complemented hard work with ‘mental engineering,’” she said. “That’s when someone believes in you so much they see things in you that you never knew were there.” 

“He took a ‘dumb blonde’ and made something special out of her,” she said, laughing.
Every time they built a new restaurant, they salvaged materials. “Our first house was built with scraps and pieces of Western Sizzlins all over the country,” she said. “The garage went up before the house. It was a four-door garage with Western Sizzlin tile on the floor.”

They needed the space because of a side venture that led to the founding of KaTom Restaurant Supply, which the couple named by combining the middle names of their daughter Paula and son Charley. 

“People called looking for restaurant equipment,” said Bible. “Tim started sourcing products as a buddy doing it for his buddies, but he said, ‘If we’re going to spend time doing this, we need to make money out of it.’”

“The garage filled quickly,” she continued. “Tim’s father had an empty building. I remember walking in the door and asking ‘What are we going to do with all this space?’’’

It was a 6,000 square foot building; KaTom’s headquarters is now 400,000 square feet.

“Tim was a visionary,” said Bible. “He revolutionized the business by buying a fax machine, and he was the first to chase down the internet. I flew Tim all over the country learning everything we could about the internet, which people thought was a fad. At Tim’s death there was no I was determined to finish that. Whoever thought it would become a national brand?”

“KaTom works with any business selling food or any place needing stoves or refrigerators,” she continued. “How many places do you go where there are no food services or equipment? Almost all of them. The world is my oyster, and I love it.”

Paula, who directs e-commerce, and Charley, who directs sales, have been involved with the business most of their lives.

“Looking back, it was always meant to be their company,” said Bible. “I used to be hands-on in every area. I had to learn to delegate. Now I focus on two things. I control the tempo, which is fast, fast, fast. I love growth. And I love ‘the buy.’ I do the buy really big.”

The lessons Bible learned are a blueprint for success: “If you set your goals to the moon and back, they are attainable. Great success will always follow hard work and long hours. You are bigger and better than you think you are.”

More Stories