published Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Taco Mac reopens as T.MAC in transformed downtown Chattanooga space

  • photo
    The T.Mac on Market Street has undergone major renovations and expansion.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    The T.MAC on Market Street has undergone major renovations and expansion, such as the addition of three circular rotating booths.
    enlarge photo

A downtown Market Street mainstay, as far as restaurants go, reopened its doors late last week, following an expansion that nearly doubled its space.

T.MAC also shortened its name to what everybody in Chattanooga has been calling it for as long as anyone can remember.

“We thought it was a good time to go by our familiar nickname,” said Tony Dammicci, chief marketing officer of the Alpharetta, Ga.,-based chain.

T.MAC, which previously went by Taco Mac Sports Grill, had partially reopened on July 28, but Friday’s grand opening introduced the full expanse of the eatery.

The 423 Market Street space has the air of a trendy restaurant, with wood floors, slim chairs and tiny track lighting.

“It’s a natural-type vibe,” said Danielle Dillard, 26, of Chattanooga.

On Monday afternoon, Dillard sat at a circular rotating booth with her boyfriend and his sister, whom the couple had picked up after the college sophomore finished class at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

The restaurant has three circular rotating booths that each hold up to six people. Using small metal rails that ring the booth, patrons can slowly spin the seating bench and round table, which are set on bearings, so that someone can get in or out, without disturbing anyone else in the party.

Spinning also helps with seeing many of the 63 new high-definition televisions. All told, T.MAC seats about 270 people, inside and on patios.

It also has 96 beers on tap, many of them local and regional. That’s nearly double the number it had before. The list of local brewers is long, but here’s a sampling: Chattanooga Brewing Company, Black Abbey Brewing Company from Nashville and Saw Works Brewing Company from Knoxville.

This week T.MAC plans to debut Chattanooga’s Big Frog Brewing. More local brewers will be on tap, Dammicci said, including Chattanooga’s Cool Springs Brewery, Turtle Anarchy Brewing Company from Franklin and Fat Bottom Brewery from Nashville.

T.MAC opened on Market Street in 1998. When the Big Chill and Grill relocated to a larger space on North Shore from its former Market Street location next to T.MAC, the sports bar was able to expand from 4,000 square feet to 6,700 square feet. Remodeling started in May and closed the restaurant for two weeks of July. T.MAC has 28 restaurants in the Southeast. The company declined to divulge its expansion and renovation costs.

By all accounts the new space is more modern.

“It was like an 80’s bar” before, said Sean Morris, the restaurant’s regional manager. “Lots of neon, the bar was dark. Now it’s wide open.”

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at mmalek@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.

about Mitra Malek...

Mitra Malek writes about business, with a focus on the Chattanooga area's tech, small business and entrepreneurial communities, as well as tourism. Before coming to the Times Free Press, she was a staff writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Journal Inquirer and Palm Beach Post. She has covered local and national politics, government, international trade, a state cancer cluster investigation and real estate growth and economic development, among other subjects. Her reporting ...

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