Cherry Street Tavern to open in former Mad Priest space in downtown Chattanooga

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Marty Bohannon, left, and George MacEwan pose at the Cherry Street Tavern on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Cherry Street Tavern is set to open in the former space of The Mad Priest Coffee & Cocktails this year.

Restaurant people are often asked to wear many hats. For Marty Bohannon, being in the restaurant business can also mean going by many names.

"When I'm waiting tables, I'm Martin, when I'm bar tending, I'm Marty, but I'll answer to about anything," he said with a laugh.

He is certainly no stranger to the restaurant scene, or the music scene, for that matter, having been front man for the popular local act The Bohannons for many years along with his brother, Matt. Bohannon was also involved in the Exile on Main Street most recently and still fills in at St. John's restaurant when needed.

Starting sometime around the first of February, he will also be known as co-owner of Cherry Street Tavern in the old Mad Priest space on Cherry Street. He and George MacEwan, longtime chef at Two Ten Jack, plan to open the space sometime next month, initially just serving traditional bar food for dinner, along with craft beers and mixed drinks, in addition to live music in the alley space out back.

The two were approved for their beer license on Thursday during the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board's meeting.

"We've taken over the Mad Priest location and rebranded it," Bohannon told the board during the meeting Thursday. "We will be doing food and music with a limited bar program. We have a collective 40-plus years of talent and hope to be a great addition to the neighborhood."

He said the two don't plan to change much about the location, "because it is pretty turnkey." Mad Priest, which has locations on Broad Street and Wilcox Boulevard, closed the Cherry Street location last month after business waned during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bohannon said he and MacEwan plan to open with limited capacity in the beginning and like others, hope we are coming out of virus.

"We will probably wait to offer lunch until after COVID is out of here," Bohannon said. He added that they have the added benefit of seeing what other restaurants have done to survive, including delivery and take out, as well as limited dine-in seating.

"We have a plan for our early survival," he said.

Other board actions

Also approved for consumer and carryout beer permits on Thursday was Cheese Dip Mexican Grill. Owner Roberto Venegas told the beer board he was making the application as a way to generate new revenue.

The board also suspended Gudel Wrecker Service on Middle Valley Road from being on the city's call rotation for 30 days beginning Feb. 15 for failing on three occasions to respond to police calls for pickups.

The board debated at length on Thursday, as well as at their last meeting two weeks ago, about how much discretion it has regarding such violations. City attorney Melinda Foster told the board it could either dismiss the case, or find the service in violation which automatically triggers the 30-day suspension.

After a split vote that failed to garner the required five votes, the board discussed the matter further and decided the city's code was clear and the suspension was required. It plans to discuss the code at its Feb. 18 meeting with the idea of sending new recommendations and a request for clarification to the Chattanooga City Council, which writes the codes governing wreckers on the call rotation.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.