published Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Hello, Honey! Tupelo Honey Cafe is cooking up Chattanooga eatery

Tupelo Honey restaurant drawing
Tupelo Honey restaurant drawing
TUPELO HONEY CAFE

Started: Asheville, N.C., in 2000; second Asheville site opened in 2010

Revenues: $7 million annually from Asheville eateries

Employees: 325

Outreach: Engages elementary schools about healthy eating and nutrition education

Name: Tupelo honey is found in swamps in North Florida and South Georgia

Source: Company

Restaurateur Stephen Frabitore said Tuesday that opening a Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Chattanooga fits the company's vision.

With stores already in the downtowns of Asheville, N.C., and Knoxville, he has plans for central city eateries in Johnson City, Tenn., and Greenville, S.C., as well as Chattanooga.

"We looked. We investigated [downtown Chattanooga]," he said. "What's transpired over the last 15 years has been dramatic."

Frabitore said he plans to invest about $1 million into the Tupelo Honey Cafe that is to go into Warehouse Row off Market Street.

Plans are to open the restaurant in September in street-level space off the Row's breezeway and facing Lindsay Street.

The entrepreneur, who bought Tupelo Honey Cafe about five years ago, said the eatery will have 120 seats inside along with 40 outside. Plans are to hire about 100 people, Frabitore said.

He said the eatery will open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week serving "a unique brand of Southern cuisine" aimed at families and business people.

Elizabeth Sims, the company's marketing director, said it will be "a comfortable spot for a lot of different types of diners."

She said there's "a swath of Appalachia engrained in our brand."

Kristin Morris, vice president of retail leasing for building owner Jamestown, said it's talking with an art gallery about moving to different space in Warehouse Row to make room for the restaurant.

"It will make Warehouse Row a more prominent destination," she said about the eatery.

Morris said the mixed-use development is more than 80 percent leased.

George Krauth, a Jamestown vice president, said plans are to make some facade and signage improvements to the building.

Tupelo Honey Cafe will be the second full-service restaurant in the Row.

Frabitore said plans are to hold a jobs fair in August for the restaurant jobs, 70 of which will be full-time.

"We want to find beautiful eclectic cities," he said.

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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