A new restaurant called Community Pie is slated to open in January, and local leaders said it is a step toward a more vibrant City Center, which connects the North Shore and Southside.
"We are so proud of Miller Plaza, and one thing it has never done is be really animated on Market Street," Kim White, president and CEO of downtown economic development organization River City Company, said.
To create more activity in that area, River City leaders wanted to attract locally owned restaurants with an "authentic Chattanooga feel," White said.
—Community Pie is going in the space where Market Street Tavern had been.
—Market Street Tavern moved across the street to the other side of Market Street, next door to the relatively new restaurant Fork & Pie Bar.
—Another building on Market Street that used to house downtown nightclub 807 Fire and Ice will soon be a Cuban cigar bar.
—Kim White with River City Company said the cigar bar is taking a little longer than expected to meet fire code regulations.
So they targeted Mike and Taylor Monen, who already own two successful Chattanooga restaurants—Urban Stack and Taco Mamacita.
The couple is bringing a restaurant to Market Street—in the former Market Street Tavern location—that will specialize in Neapolitan pizza, handcrafted gelato and craft beers, Mike Monen said.
Neapolitan pizza is authentic Italian pizza that the Monens' team will cook in wood-fired ovens that heat up to about 900 degrees. At that temperature, the pizzas can cook in 60 to 90 seconds, Monen said.
"What I think is great about Neapolitan pizza is the ingredients are always the best ingredients available," he said. "You get a little bit of flavor from the wood, but it's really about the heat."
Monen, who has always wanted to open a pizza restaurant, trained to learn the art of making Neapolitan pizza. And his wife went to school to learn from an Italian expert how to make gelato.
She and the team will make the Italian ice cream and its flavoring from scratch at the restaurant, using as many local products as possible, Monen said.
Crews have been renovating the space, which will seat about 130 people, since mid-September. They have taken the space that was a patio and added large garage doors that will open and allow air to flow through when the outside temperature is right.
The restaurant will have 40 craft beers on draft, as well as a selection of less expensive canned beers, Monen said.
"We tried to create a concept that will fit for all budgets," he said.
The Monens are bringing some staff from their other restaurants to Community Pie to lead the other 50 or 60 employees.
Jennifer Summers will be the general manager, and Monen said that his employees are what drive him to open more restaurants.
"The reasons we choose to grow are because we really worked hard to cultivate a great culture within our staff," Monen said. "We have a lot of great employees that are interested and deserving of promotions. They have motivated us to open up another store."