published Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Miller Building to hold new eatery in downtown Chattanooga

Rena Malone and her husband, Don Malone, browse the Regional Art Alliance's juried show being displayed in the street-level windows of the Miller Building in 2012.
Rena Malone and her husband, Don Malone, browse the Regional Art Alliance's juried show being displayed in the street-level windows of the Miller Building in 2012.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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A new downtown Chattanooga eatery offering more than a dozen kinds of chicken salad is planned for one of the central city's oldest and best-known office buildings.

The restaurant, Chicken Salad Chick, is slated to open in January in the Miller Building at Market and Seventh streets.

Ali Rauch, the restaurant chain's marketing director, said plans are to serve about 15 different flavors of chicken salad. She said the offerings will range from traditional fare to hot and spicy, bacon, barbecue, fruit and nut, buffalo sauce and other flavors. Also, the restaurant will serve deli sandwiches, salads, cookies and other items, Rauch said.

Josh Patton, who will own the Chattanooga location, put the investment at about $300,000 into the new eatery that will focus on the lunchtime crowd and seat close to 80 people in addition to a private dining area.

"It has great visibility," he said about the site, noting it will have glass walls facing the streets. "It will be high-profile."

Patton, a 26-year-old Nashville software salesman for Dell who’s moving to Chattanooga to start up the eatery, said he’s leasing about 3,900 square feet from building owner Mesa Associates, an engineering firm. That footprint is larger than the typical Chicken Salad Chick, he said.

Currently, there are nine Chicken Salad Chick eateries in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, Rauch said. Typically, a restaurant employs 25 to 30 people, she said.

“We love going into locations which have a college presence,” Rauch said, citing UTC and noting the company opened its first two sites in Auburn, Ala., and nearby Opelika. “We have a strong following there.”

Patton said he’ll look at hiring college students. With hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, the restaurant should be attractive for working students.

Jeff Jennings of Charter Real Estate Corp., who handled the leasing, said it’s exciting to see a fast-growing restaurant chain enter downtown Chattanooga and the central business district.

“Their recent expansion is substantial,” he said about the company.

Rauch said the chain has nine locations plans to open four more by the end of the year. She said there are about 60 under development.

Patton said he was a student at Auburn University when he discovered the business, which was started by an Auburn woman out of her house before she opened the restaurant locations.

“I’ve eaten there twice a day, and before that I wasn’t even a chicken salad fan,” he said.

Patton said he’s looking at starting another Chicken Salad Chick location in the Hamilton Place area, though he doesn’t have a site leased yet.

“I hope to do Nashville,” he added. Patton said the company identified Chattanooga because it’s within about 250 miles Auburn, where the business is headquartered.

The four-story Miller Building was bought by Mesa in 2011 for $5.5 million from BlueCross Blue Shield of Tennessee. The structure for decades had held Miller Bros. department store and dates back to the late 1800s.

At the time, an official for Madison, Ala.-based Mesa planned to shift its 180-member Chattanooga staff from leased space in the Volunteer building to the Miller building.

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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