published Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Small Biz: Friendship leads to new Chattanooga tavern

Matt Skudlerak, left, and Jason Bowers are opening a tavern called The Bitter Alibi on Houston Street. The location was previously O'Heiney's.
Matt Skudlerak, left, and Jason Bowers are opening a tavern called The Bitter Alibi on Houston Street. The location was previously O'Heiney's.
Photo by Shawn Paik.

• Name: The Bitter Alibi

• Owners: Matt Skularek and Jason Bowers

• Location: 825 Houston St., Chattanooga

• Opens: Thursday, July 3 at 4 p.m.

• Service: Tavern with sandwich menu. There will be eight craft beer options, with a select few on tap, and a selection of canned and bottled beers as well. Sandwich options will include Korean barbecue and flat bread options, among others. The site does not have a deep fryer or expansive kitchen, so Skudlarek and Bowers say food options will remain on the lighter, fresher side.

• Staff: Four employees

• How it got started: A few years ago, Jason Bowers and Matt Skudlarek met in the basement tavern called O'Heiney's Pub at the corner of Houston Street and ML King Boulevard. Skudlarek is an entrepreneur, owner and operator of Pasha Coffee and Tea in St. Elmo. Bowers is a graduate of Bryan College, and before The Bitter Alibi, was teaching elementary school. The two stuck up a friendship, but last year O'Heiney's closed its doors.

Having loved the tight-knit, neighborhood feel of O'Heiney's, Skudlarek and Bowers talked about revamping the site. While sitting at Hair of the Dog Pub one evening, they reached out to the landlord who owns the space previously occupied by O'Heiney's.They asked about renting it. The landlord said yes. And The Bitter Alibi was born.

• Why Chattanooga: Skudlarek is a Chattanooga native and already operates a successful coffee shop here. Bowers is from West Virginia but decided to stay here after becoming familiar with the area during college.

• What is unique? The Bitter Alibi is all about atmosphere, say Skudlarek and Bowers. They fell in love with its familial personality, accented by low ceilings, sliding bathroom doors and the fact you don't access the bar from the front, rather from a side door straight into the basement.

• Contact: www.thebitteralibi.com, facebook.com/thebitteralibi, twitter.com/thebitteralibi, email to jason@thebitteralibi.com

Compiled by staff writer Alex Green, who can be reached at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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