Big River Grille opened its doors 15 years ago and became the first restaurant in the city to offer beer brewed in-house. And today, it remains the only one to do so, though others have opened across the South, including Big River’s expansion into the Nashville market as well as its newest eatery in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Today, the restaurant unveiled its new summer menu and it’s one of which Bill Heckler, executive chef of the Gordon Biersch Restaurant Group, is quite proud. He said it’s hard matching foods with beer, for which Big River Grille is known. But he’s hit a good balance with such dishes as Cashew-Crusted Mahi-Mahi over a creamy lemon sauce; a new tapas-style appetizer with roasted tomato relish, olive tapenade and hummus; a new vegetarian dish of grilled vegetable pasta; and Citrus Chicken with Rosemary Shrimp.
These offerings, along with the seasonal Summer Wheat beer, will be available through August, if not longer.
Of note over the past couple of years: Big River Grille purchased Gordon Biersch restaurants based in California in 2000. The parent company became Gordon Biersch Restaurant Group and is based in Chattanooga. There are now 37 restaurants under the Gordon Biersch brand, the most recent having opened in Taiwan earlier this year, according to David Sharpe, regional brewer. Another Gordon Biersch restaurant is scheduled to open in Maryland later this year, he said.
Two years ago, Big River Grille shut down the brewery located behind the bar in the downtown eatery and built a new, larger one behind the downtown kitchen to better serve the Hamilton Place store in addition to the downtown location. For the time being, the original brewery will remain behind glass for all to enjoy.
“The old brewery is part of our history,” Mr. Sharpe said. “Plus, it’s a good conversation piece.”
In the fall of 2007, Big River began selling its brews bottled and stocked in groceries throughout the Chattanooga area, as well as many convenience stores.