In summer 2015, Chattanooga entrepreneur Brandon Ellis started out small by setting up a smoker outside a couple of businesses.
Within a year, he felt that the venture was successful enough to invest in a mobile unit, so he launched Chatter Box Café food truck.
Now, he’s expanding into a storefront on Market Street.
What: Chatter Box Café grand opening
When: Saturday, Feb. 4, 12-5 p.m.
Where: 1817 Market St.
More information: The business is already open, but Ellis is having the official grand opening next month. There will be live music and a DJ, as well as meal specials. And it’s the day before the Super Bowl, so it’s a chance for people to buy products for the next day.
“We have more space here,” he said of the new restaurant, which is on the corner of Market and 19th streets. “I have access to more things than I typically have on the truck. Now, I have everything I need to push out the product I really want.”
He’s self-funded the new restaurant, which has seating for about 15 people inside.
In the spring, he wants to add a deck, which should provide room for 15-20 more people, he said.
Chatter Box has an array of meats. The top seller is brisket, he said. Other popular items include smoked chicken wings, pulled pork and ribs.
Ellis, who grew up on a farm in Kentucky, will still operate the food truck, and he also does a good amount of catering. He’s worked events for as few as 10 people and as many as 600, he said.
The experience of growing up on a farm influenced Ellis and his work.
His family made their living raising hogs and tobacco, he said.
He got to see the entire food process, which has proved beneficial to his current ventures.
“There were a lot of good times on the farm,” he said. “For me, what I’m doing now, it allows me to kind of tap back into that and share that with people.”
The Chatter Box’s décor is influenced by his farm roots, and, eventually, he would love to have his own farm for locals to work on and to supply his restaurant, he said.
“I think growing up on a farm taught me a lot of life lessons and job skills that people are lacking today,” he said.
Click here to read a Date Night Dining article about the food truck.