For a stretch of time in the 1950s and early 1960s, Clemons Dining Room was a restaurant on U.S. Highway 127 in northern Hamilton County.
The mid-century postcard that accompanies this article is part of a collection at the website ChattanoogaHistory.com. The postcard is undated, but the prices on the outdoor menu are telling. In this era, probably the 1950s, hamburgers at Clemons Dining Room were priced at 25 cents, chicken salad sandwiches were 30 cents and soft drinks (and coffee) were 6 cents per serving.
Perhaps it ruffled some feathers when coffee jumped from 5 cents to 6 cents. Imagine having to fish out that extra penny from your little rubber coin purse. Interestingly, buttermilk was the cheapest beverage on the menu at that time at 5 cents a glass.
Newspaper records note that the family restaurant, with a distinctive mountain stone facade, was 3 miles south of Daisy, Tennessee. The merged town we know today as Soddy-Daisy - Soddy to the north, Daisy to the south - was not established until 1969.
Sam Hall, curator of ChattanoogaHistory.com, said the postcard was donated to the historical website by Debbie Conner. In an email to Hall, Steve Smith, who operates the Soddy, Daisy and Montlake Historical Association, placed the former Clemons Dining Room restaurant near the intersection of Montlake Road and Dayton Pike. That would put it near the current location of Citizens Tri-County Bank at 8575 Dayton Pike.
References to the establishment in Chattanooga's newspapers were spotty, but spanned roughly from 1953 to 1962.
The first newspaper reference in July 1953 noted that the Tri-State Trail Club stopped for dinner at Clemons Dining Room after touring North Chickamauga Gulch. In March 1956, the newly organized States Rights council of Tennessee held a meeting at the restaurant for the purpose of starting a chapter in the community. And in 1960, there is a newspaper reference to a candidate for county judge holding a political rally there.
A newspaper classified ad in 1962 noted that the owners of Clemons Dining Room were offering equipment for a "complete restaurant" for sale. There were no newspaper references to the Clemons restaurant after that year, perhaps signaling it had closed or changed hands.
"Remember When, Chattanooga?" appears in the Times Free Press on Saturdays. Follow the series' public group on Facebook.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.