published Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Taste 7 states: Rock City adds restaurant at Lover's Leap

Billy Sparks, director of food and beverage services for See Rock City Inc., opens one of the many umberellas at Cafe 7 on the bluff at the popular Lookout Mountain attraction.
Billy Sparks, director of food and beverage services for See Rock City Inc., opens one of the many umberellas at Cafe 7 on the bluff at the popular Lookout Mountain attraction.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Lover's Leap may soon become where lovers eat.

Rock City is adding an upscale restaurant that will serve Southern dishes on top of Lover's Leap. Scheduled to open April 11, Cafe 7 includes only outdoor seating -- patio chairs and tables are perched on the edge of the cliff where visitors aim to see seven states.

"The idea we came up with was to focus on regional food, by playing on the idea of the seven states and serving Southern food, but with a modern twist," said Billy Sparks, director of food and beverage for See Rock City Inc. "It's light; it's fresh; it's local."

The restaurant will seat about 75 people and be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The space also will be available to rent for private parties, receptions and weddings.

Rock City built Cafe 7 in three phases over the past three years, director of operations Jeff Raabe said. The renovation work included expanding the patio and adding a 700-square-foot kitchen. The company spent about $1 million on the entire project.

"Any time you add something like this, it's a challenge to be sure that we're enhancing but also preserving the natural element," Raabe said. "But there's always been a vision from the ownership to have dining on the Leap. So you could enjoy the view and also enjoy a good meal."

Sparks will start with a staff of about 10 cooks, servers and hosts, but he hopes to eventually expand both the restaurant's menu and hours.

Diners at Cafe 7 will still have to pay the normal Rock City admission price, and prices at the restaurant will range from $10 for appetizers to about $20 for some dishes, said Meagan Jolley, public relations manager at R&R Marketing.

The restaurant will serve both beer and wine, but also aims to be kid-friendly, Sparks said.

"It's casual, but still more upscale than what we normally do," he said.

Cafe 7 will be the park's only full-service restaurant and will add to the stands already selling concession-type food. Jolley said the restaurant will have dishes such as shrimp and grits, frog legs, fried green tomatoes and Southern fried chicken.

"There's no other place in Chattanooga like this," she said. "There's no other place with this view."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at sbradbury@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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