Big River closes at Hamilton Place in Chattanooga

A neon sign marks Big River Grille and Brewing Works at Hamilton Place.

The Big River Grille & Brewing Works at Hamilton Place has closed, according to Josh Kern, president of SPB Hospitality, which owns the franchise.

"Yes, confirmed," Kern said via text earlier this week.

SPB owns several restaurant chains across the country, including J. Alexander's, Logan's Roadhouse, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, ChopHouse & Brewery and Redlands Grill.

Kern did not provide a reason for the closing but said SPB - which is headquartered in Houston, Texas, with hundreds of locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia - made efforts to relocate the Big River employees positions at other stores in the group.

"All employees were offered positions at Big River downtown, Logan's Roadhouse and J. Alexander's," he said in the text.

Big River was founded by local restaurateur Tim Hennen and an investment group that included Allen Corey, Rob Gentry and Jon Kinsey. It opened its first location in an old bus barn in downtown Chattanooga in 1993. It was one of the first microbreweries in Chattanooga at the time.

Big River acquired Gordon Biersch restaurants in 1999. In 2010, Centerbridge Capital Partners bought a majority of both Rock Bottom Restaurants and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, and renamed the new company Craftworks Restaurants & Breweries. SPB took over the CraftWorks holdings in 2020.

The Hamilton Place Big River location at 2020 Hamilton Place Blvd. opened in 2006 and a third location opened in Orlando in 2021. The nearly 8,000-square-foot Hamilton Place location featured an extensive dining room, spacious bar area, private dining/banquet room and large outdoor patio.

The restaurants are known for their diverse menus featuring entrees, salads, sandwiches and appetizers and their signature handcrafted beers.

Kern said SPB had leased the building, which was built in 1988, from CBL Properties. Stacey Keating, vice president of corporate communications at CBL, said in an email Friday that CBL's leasing team "is working diligently to bring a new restaurant to the former Big River location.

"We'll be excited to share more information as those plans are finalized," Keating said.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com.