Tremont Tavern celebrates a decade of beer, bands and burgers

Tremont Tavern opened a new addition in December 2015. Owner Dustin Choate estimated the popular North Chattanooga restaurant has doubled in size since opening in 2006.
photo Dustin Choate, owner of Tremont Tavern, is also general manager at the Feed Company Table and Tavern, a Southside restaurant he opened with other local restaurateurs Miguel Morales and Charlie Loomis.

When half of all startup restaurants fail after their first year, having continued success after a decade is a pretty big deal.

That's why Dustin Choate, owner of Tremont Tavern, hosted a two-day celebration of food, beer and music over the past weekend to say "thank you" to the loyal customer base to whom he said he owes his success.

"We're like a family here, and we try to extend that atmosphere to all the people who come here," said Choate. "We have a really big focus on taking care of people, and I think people recognize that and appreciate it."

Choate previously worked in pharmaceutical sales, and started Tremont in 2006 after becoming disinterested in corporate America. While he said he expected Tremont to succeed, what surprised him was the growth he experienced in just a few short years. He said he was just mainly looking to be his own boss and do something he loved.

"If I didn't make a whole lot of money doing that, I figured that was OK," he said.

One of the big appeals of Tremont that Choate has tried to cultivate is the live music featured on a regular basis. Last Friday and Saturday, to help celebrate the restaurant's success, Tremont hosted local acts like Danimal Pinson, B.J. Hightower, Gabriel Newell and Jordan Hallquist and The Outfit. Some of those acts got their start at Tremont's open mic nights and live music weekends, like Hightower, a longtime employee who Choate said helped craft the award-winning menu.

The biggest thing Choate said he's grateful for is just how dedicated people have become to Tremont. He joked in a press release that he knew his restaurant had made it when a 90-year-old woman and her 70-year-old daughter would walk down the hill from their house once a week to order a burger and a beer.

The real revelation for Choate, though, was when he realized about four years back that he no longer had a slow season.

"Every restaurant is challenged with the times in the year that aren't as busy," said Choate. "I was going through the books a few years ago and saw we didn't have any dips in business; it was basically a straight line across."

Choate's staff have their hands full from the time they open the doors until closing time - not a bad problem to have.

"It's basically the dream for restaurant owners," Choate said.

For more information, contact Tremont Tavern at 266-1996.

Email Shane Foley at sfoley@timesfreepress.com.