The news that Mt. Vernon Restaurant on South Broad Street had closed after more than 60 years stunned many residents this week. But it also sparked a bit of nostalgic reminiscing on a local Facebook page.
Mt. Vernon’s closure follows the April closing of 212 Market, which had been in operation for more than 25 years.
On the You Know You’re From Chattanooga If … Facebook page, many users chimed in with their thoughts on what is now the oldest restaurant in Chattanooga. The list includes Miss Griffin’s Foot Long Hot Dogs, Zarzour’s Café, Memo Grill, Bea’s Restaurant, Wally’s, Nikki’s Drive-In, Longhorn Restaurant, Armando’s, Bud’s Sports Bar and The Epicurean.
My friend and fellow food writer Mary Haymaker wrote a great piece called “Remembering Chattanooga Restaurants From Days Gone By” on her Chattavore blog. Coincidentally, she was my dining partner when I wrote about my last visit to Mt. Vernon Restaurant in a Date Night Dining column in 2016.
I was lucky enough to be around for Durty Nelly’s, Caffeine, Dairy Gold and Pisa Pizza, and I wrote about them in this column.
But this week, I thought I’d list some of the long-gone restaurants I wish I could’ve visited. These places represent Chattanooga’s past and serve as a reminder that change is constant and that “new” doesn’t always mean “better.”
What places would be on your list? Let me know in the comments below.
Town and Country Restaurant
Before closing in 2005, Town and Country was revered as one of the best places to enjoy a good old-fashioned Southern meal in North Chattanooga. The restaurant existed for 58 years (1947–2005) where Walgreens is today. I arrived in Chattanooga in 2001, but I never made it to Town and Country before it closed. I managed to have a hot dog at Northside Lunch (202 Frazier Ave.), but I’m ashamed I never visited T&C while it was around. I’ve heard the blue cheese dressing was amazing? Great salads and sandwiches? Tell me what I missed out on. Check out some photos of T&C from Deep Zoom Chattanooga here.
Nooga.com’s offices were located in the historical Loveman’s Building on Market Street for several years. We would often venture down into the basement of the former department store, where, apparently, a busy lunch counter would serve downtown workers and shoppers. I was never able to pinpoint the exact location of the lunch counter, but several readers commented that it was a favorite place for many during the ’60s and ’70s. Chattanooga has changed so much, and I would give almost anything to be a fly on the wall at that luncheonette during a busy holiday shopping season. Did you eat at the luncheonette in Loveman’s, or at the neighboring Miller Brothers building? I’d love to hear about it.
The original Krystal
I am by no means a fan of Krystal burgers, but I would’ve enjoyed sampling a burger or two from the original diner-style restaurant at the corner of Seventh and Cherry streets back in 1932. That’s where it all started, right there on that corner. What would it have been like to stroll down Cherry Street and pop in for a few Krystal burgers and some fries? Back then, customers ordered from a waitress at the counter. The fast-food industry changed the game in the 1970s, so Krystal adopted a similar service style. Apparently, they even used to serve Krystal burgers on real china? What? A Chattanoogan.com article provides a great overview of the history of Krystal burgers in Chattanooga and beyond.
The original Fehn’s is missed by a certain generation of Chattanoogans. According to several sources I read, the original restaurant opened in 1930 near Girls Preparatory School and is still remembered as one of the best restaurants on the North Shore/downtown. You can even find recipes online from devoted fans who attempted to recreate Fehn’s macaroon pie and other dishes. One person said their “Choo-Choo chicken” is among the best fried chicken they ever tasted. Did your family eat at Fehn’s on the river? What was it like?
Let’s just say that Jefferson’s is no Brass Register, even though I never had the chance to visit and party there like so many of you did back in the day. Located at 618 Georgia Ave., the Brass Register was just out of my reach—existing from 1972 to 2000—when I arrived in 2001. People talked more fondly about the Brass Register than any other bar in Chattanooga during my first few years here. “Man, you would’ve loved the BR,” they’d say. Thankfully, I was able to visit the Stone Lion before its demise, but the BR remains one of my ultimate Chattanooga regrets. It just wasn’t in the cards. What’d I miss? Wax nostalgic with your BR stories below.
The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.