Sofa King closes after busy opening clears pantry

Friday, January 1, 1904

photo This is the logo for Red Bank's Sofa King Juicy Burger as it appears on the restaurant's website.

Hungry crowds cleaned out the Red Bank eatery known for its bawdy branding and nitrogen-cooled milkshakes, forcing Sofa King Juicy Burger to close all day Wednesday after running out of grub on opening day.

"All we had left was French fries and beer at the end," said Tim Kelly, who owns the property on which the restaurant is located. "I can't imagine a more successful launch."

Restaurant owners Jeff Brakebill and Greg Beairsto planned a soft opening with little fanfare, but underestimated demand for Sofa King's grass-fed beef, portobello mushrooms and fresh-baked buns.

"It's just a balancing act," Kelly said. "If you prepare too much, you've got to throw a lot away if you don't sell it."

The restaurenteurs received national attention when the Times Free Press first reported on Sofa King's risque name, which some Red Bank residents said was inappropriate.

But Brakebill and Beairsto defended Sofa King as a lighthearted joke, pointing to the burger joint's 45-foot-long sofa as justification. Brakebill and Beairsto even collected old sofa and furniture advertising to decorate the restaurant, and said that concerns about the name were more of a "parenting issue" than a real problem.

"We're just trying to make a buck and put people to work and put a smile on our face while we're doing it," Beairsto told columnist David Cook.

Now, after hordes of customers packed out the restaurant on its first official day of business, Chattanooga could see more Sofa Kings in the not-too-distant future, Kelly said.

"If it goes this well for six months to a year, we'll be talking about franchising," Kelly said. "But right now we're talking about making this work."

In addition to a new stock of burgers, buns and milkshakes, visitors will be able to buy Sofa King themed t-shirts, pint mugs and glasses, stickers and koozies today if the restaurant reopens at 11 a.m. as planned.

Brakebill and Beairsto also operate popular Chattanooga restaurants Aretha Frankenstein and Crust Pizza.