A new grocery store aiming to serve Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhoods has opened, and for nearby residents it’s more than just a place to buy food.
“We are more than excited to see the grocery come in,” said Andrae McGary, president of the Oak Grove Neighborhood Association. “It means that people are putting renewed hope and faith in our community.”
Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover Alejandra Perez cuts radishes in the kitchen of Hawthorne & Main Grocery/Tienda Jalisco Restaurant on Main Street Tuesday. The store opened on October 10, with the restaurant moving from its East Main Street location into the new building to partner with the grocery.
Hawthorne and Main Grocery opened Oct. 10 in a building that formerly housed the Ladies of Charity of Chattanooga, which operated a thrift store. The grocery occupies a third of the 3,200 square-foot building at 1800 E. Main Street.
Owner Rachel Conn said she opened the store for the under-served neighborhoods in the area.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Ms. Conn said. “It’s basically there for people so they don’t have to drive all the way to Bi-Lo or Wal-Mart every time they need milk.”
The building, which Ms. Conn owns, originally was built in the 1920s and opened as a grocery store. Over the years, it has been a fabric store and was purchased in 1979 by the Ladies of Charity, Ms. Conn said.
The store also houses Tienda Jalisco Mexican restaurant, which moved from its former location at 304 E. Main St. The owner of the restaurant, Roberto Para, and his family formed a partnership with Ms. Conn to operate from inside the grocery store.
In addition to the Mexican restaurant, the store offers all kinds of groceries, from fresh fruit and dairy to frozen pizzas. Ms. Conn said she also is open to suggestions from shoppers on which items to add to her inventory.
The grocery has a good mix of items for all of the different people who live nearby, she said, referring to residents in the Southside, Highland Park, Ferger Place and the growing Latino neighborhoods in the area.
“It is going to be useful to a lot of different people,” she said.
The Southside has had an array of new development over the past 10 years as business people and residents move back to the once-neglected area.
More recently, parts of Main Street are coming back. Private investment in housing and new businesses has helped create new life in the area.
Also, the city and the Lyndhurst Foundation spent money on new sidewalks, trees, public art, lighting and on-street parking on about a four-block area of East Main Street.
POPQUOTE: “It’s basically there for people so they don’t have to drive all the way to Bi-Lo or Wal-Mart every time they need milk.” — grocery store owner Rachel Conn