IF YOU GO:
What: Primo, Italian restaurant
When: Open by end-of-May
Hours: Monday to Friday, opens at 4 p.m.; Saturday opens at noon; closed Sunday
A new Italian restaurant and a new raw juice bar are slated to open this spring in North Chattanooga, filling up a section of retail on Hixson Pike that's been empty for years.
Veteran Chattanooga restaurateur Nathan Lindley, who owns downtown restaurant Public House, will open the Italian eatery, Primo, in the old Greenlife building at 1100 Hixson Pike.
The New York City, neighborhood-style restaurant will feature classic American Italian food, Lindley said, with red sauce, meatballs, clams or even a steak with a roasted head of garlic. Construction is already underway on the 82-seat, 2,400 square-foot restaurant, and the eatery should be open by the end of May.
"It is the prime location for Riverview and North Chattanooga," Lindley said. "It's a great building, with parking, in the right spot."
The restaurant will have 42 parking spaces, Lindley said, and he hopes it will draw from not only the local neighborhood but also the region as a whole. Primo will only be open for dinner, and prices will average around $14 for a pasta plate.
In addition to Primo, entrepreneur Kelsey Vasileff is opening a raw juice bar called Southern Sqweeze across the street at 1210 Tremont Street. Vasileff will serve up cold-pressed, pre-bottled juices, as well as smoothies and eventually some raw food.
The shop, which should be open by mid-April, will have room for about 10 people to sit and eat, but the bottled juices will also be easy to take to-go, Vasileff added. She hopes Southern Sqweeze will become a neighborhood mainstay.
"I looked for a location for a solid six months," she said. "I was lead back to that location. It's in a neighborhood, people can walk to it, it can be a very family-oriented place."
And it's a neighborhood that's really starting to hop. Primo and Southern Sqweeze are opening on the tails of a handful of new neighboring businesses on the strip, including Farmer's Daughter and Copacetic Coffee, which opened in the old gas station at 1211 Hixson Pike in October.
The increased activity is happening about a year after landowner Chuck Pruett built new facades and divided some of his buildings to make them more appealing to retailers in June 2013. He leases to both Southern Sqweeze and Primo, as well as Farmer's Daughter and Copacetic Coffee.
He said the buildings sat empty for years because he was cautious about which tenants he handed over the keys to.
"I felt bad taking Greenlife out, so when we brought something back in I wanted to make sure it was something the neighborhood would appreciate," he said. "We've gathered some of Chattanooga's best and put them back in that area."
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.