Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern restaurant opens in downtown Chattanooga

Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern restaurant opens in downtown Chattanooga

September 12th, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

Servers train Wednesday at Tupelo Honey Cafe at Warehouse Row.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.


This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.


Where: Warehouse Row, Chattanooga

What: Chef-inspired Southern dishes

Opening week hours: Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Regular hours, starting Sept. 21: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Source: Tupelo Honey Cafe

A new Southern-style restaurant will open Monday in Warehouse Row in downtown Chattanooga.

Tupelo Honey Cafe will serve creative, flavorful dishes out of their 5,500 square foot location.

The menu includes everything from grilled cheese to tofu, with items between $4 and $30 dollars. Chattanooga is a natural fit for the casual, full-service restaurant, owner and operator Steve Frabitore said.

"After opening our first store in Tennessee, we could see that Tennessee gets us," he said. "They like what we do, and we're thankful for that."

The $1.8 million restaurant will employ about 120 people and can seat 150 customers. The location is Tupelo Honey Cafe's fifth - Frabitore opened the first Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, N.C., in 2000, then expanded to Greenville, S.C., and Knoxville. Two additional Tupelo Honey Cafe's are under construction in Charlotte, N.C., and Johnson City, Tenn.

He expects payroll to hit $1.1 million with an additional $600,000 in tipped income, he added. The restaurant should generate about $400,000 in tax revenue.

But beyond the payroll and budgets, Frabitore hopes to integrate Tupelo Honey Cafe into the Chattanooga community through partnerships with Chattanooga's Mobile Market and the Hamilton County Department of Education's School Nutrition Department.

Tupelo Honey will accompany the Mobile Market - an 80-item grocery store squished into a trailer and pulled from neighborhood to neighborhood to provide residents with easy access to fresh food in the city's food deserts - on four trips to hold cooking demonstrations. Tupelo Honey staff will cook a meal for the neighborhood, distribute recipes and give away some produce.

The restaurant will also send employees to five Chattanooga schools to teach third graders about healthy eating, in addition to hosting five Chef Nights for students and their parents.

Frabitore said each Tupelo Honey Cafe works within the local community and that community service is a major tenant of the company's culture.

"It's not a one time thing, it's not a store opening thing," he said. "It's an ongoing, year-after-year effort."

Bill Rush, YMCA district executive, helps run the Mobile Market and said Tupelo Honey's model of corporate service is exciting.

"It's not just about dollars, it's about creating this value within their work systems," he said. "And that's what we're excited about."

Tupelo Honey marketing director Elizabeth Sims said Tupelo Honey is committed to Chattanooga for the long haul.

"We don't want to be an Asheville restaurant opening in Chattanooga," she said. "We want to be Tupelo Honey Chattanooga."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.