After much anticipation and discussion, downtown Chattanooga—the Southside specifically—will soon get a grocery store: Enzo's.
“We just closed our loan today,” one of the operating partners, Gavin Thomas, said. “Construction will start in a few weeks. [We are] shooting to have the store open for the holidays.”
The store will be at 100 W. Main St. That is the old Hills Floral Building and currently has a mural on the side that reads “The Main Event.”
The multimillion dollar investment will bring “easily a couple hundred jobs” for the construction and renovation of the building.
Once it is complete, there will be between 35 and 40 part-time and full-time jobs for grocery employees, Thomas said.
Area residents can follow the progress of the store's construction via Facebook. Click here.
“The need was obvious,” he said. “Everyone talks about having a grocery store downtown, especially on this side of the river. There was also a strong desire in the feedback we got in having another venue that featured and promoted local farmers and vendors.”
Kim White, president and CEO of River City, had “nothing but positive” reactions to the news.
The biggest request River City employees hear when talking to groups about recruiting businesses is for a grocery store, she said.
“I think it’s awesome we have local people behind it,” she said. “I think that adds to the authenticity of our city.”
In addition to Thomas, the other operating partners are Eric Cummings and Sam Turner, who used to operate Favorite Market convenience stores in the area.
Cummings and Thomas were looking for an operating partner and wanted Turner’s experience.
“Convenience stores aren’t exactly grocery stores, but they have the same type of DNA,” Thomas said.
Cummings and Thomas have a background in real estate and construction and are also bringing in a grocery store consultant to work on the project.
Thomas said it will be a “full-service grocery” with a meat and seafood department, produce, and a regular grocery section with items such as frozen food and beer.
There will also be a “large cafe component” with prepared foods, along with indoor and outdoor patio seating.
“There will also be a wine shop going in,” Thomas said. “It’s a separate business but will be part of the Enzo’s experience.”
There will be about 50 parking spots at the grocery store, which is an important asset to have, Thomas also said.
But White and Thomas also noted that many people are biking, taking public transportation or walking downtown more, so that is also an option for customers.
The location, just south of the downtown city center, only blocks away from interstate exits, is across the street from Battle Academy and the new Craftworks location, meaning it will be convenient to many different people, leaders said.
Former leaders of the Southside/Cowart Place Neighborhood Association Armando and Tahnika Rodriguez said they are excited about the new addition.
“We believe it will provide a great meeting place for our area residents and business owners, be a good competitor for Greenlife and add value to our community,” Armando said via text.
Updated @ 6:52 a.m. on 05/17/12 for clarity.