published Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Cheddar’s restaurant chain entering Chattanooga area market

ON THE MENU

Some of Cheddar’s menu items:

• World Class Chicken: Marinated, grilled chicken breast topped with peppered brown sugar bacon, melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and honey lime dressing on a bun

• Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs: Homemade rub, hickory smoked and grilled with barbecue sauce

• Freshwater catfish: Fillets with Cajun spices or lemon pepper seasoning, grilled and served with seasoned rice and two sides

• Steak and shrimp

  • photo
    Site of Cheddar’s restaurant being constructed off Gunbarrel Road in Chattanooga.
    Illustration by Laura McNutt.

  • photo
    An excavator works outside a Cheddar’s restaurant being constructed near Walmart shopping center off Gunbarrel Road.
    Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A restaurant chain new to Chattanooga is joining the crowded Hamilton Place area.

Cheddar’s, which is described as offering patrons eclectic American food, is going up on Gunbarrel Road at the Hamilton Village shopping center across from the entrance to Hamilton Place mall.

“We found a plus location,” said Lee Greer, president of Lexington, Ky.-based Greer Cos., which is developing the high-profile site near Walmart.

Greer said the raising of the 8,600-square-foot eatery by his company, which operates 40 Cheddar’s restaurants in seven states, culminates seven years of work.

“We wanted this to be the first location in Chattanooga — somewhat stubbornly,” he said. A second Cheddar’s could open later in Hixson or north of the city, but nothing is finalized, according to Greer.

Greer said the Cheddar’s is to open by mid-January and employ about 200 people. He declined to say how much the project is costing the company, which is a franchisee of Cheddar’s and Hilton and Marriott hotels. Greer said the real estate developer and owner and operator of restaurants and hotels has 7,000 employees.

He said the restaurant, that will seat about 355 people, will feature a “made from scratch kitchen” offering sandwiches, steaks, chicken and seafood items.

“It has great prices, large portions at reasonable prices,” Greer said. “That’s the wow of Cheddar’s.”

Cheddar’s is joining a crowded field in the Hamilton Place market vying for diners’ dollars.

Katie Reinsmidt, senior vice president of investor relations for Hamilton Place mall owner CBL & Associates Properties Inc., said officials there don’t view Cheddar’s as competition to restaurants on its array of East Brainerd properties. She said that any eatery that makes the area a better retail and dining hub is welcome.

“There’s plenty of demand for great restaurants,” she said. “There’s a big enough pie for everybody.”

Cheddar’s already is located in the other major markets in Tennessee, such as Knoxville, Tri-Cities, Nashville and Memphis, according to Greer.

But, he said, Cheddar’s isn’t trying to be like every other restaurant chain.

“I feel good about our niches,” he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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