Two eateries to go up in front of retail center in Chattanooga's East Brainerd neighborhood

Staff photo by Mike Pare / Two new restaurants are slated for construction at a Gunbarrel Road shopping center that holds Target and Whole Foods. Workers are shown at the site on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.
Staff photo by Mike Pare / Two new restaurants are slated for construction at a Gunbarrel Road shopping center that holds Target and Whole Foods. Workers are shown at the site on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.

A high-profile retail center in East Brainerd is making a couple of fast-food additions at the site of a former restaurant as the eateries take advantage of a heavily traveled location.

Popeyes and Panda Express will open new eateries on Gunbarrel Road in front of the retail center that holds Target and Whole Foods, said Chattanooga developer Bassam Issa.

Issa said Panda Express, the fast casual Chinese restaurant, will relocate from an existing site on Gunbarrel nearer Shallowford Road. He said the new location will offer a drive-through.

Both new units are going on a site that formerly held a Golden Corral restaurant, which was torn down, Issa said. The two eateries will split a 1.8-acre tract next to Japanese steakhouse Shogun, the developer said.

Work on the Panda Express is expected to start in the spring with an opening likely in the summer, Issa said.

Construction on the Popeyes, which specializes in fried chicken with a Louisiana flavor, has already begun. Issa expected the restaurant will open next spring.

He said the location on Gunbarrel Road is the key attraction for the eateries.

"It's Gunbarrel, obviously," he said in a telephone interview. "Everybody wants to be on it. That happens to be one of the best spots in front of Target and Whole Foods. It's kind of a perfect location."

Panda Express was started about 40 years ago when Andrew and Peggy Cherng opened their first restaurant, according to the company. It now has about 2,000 locations, including about a half dozen in the Chattanooga area.

Alvin C. Copeland Sr. opened Chicken on the Run in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi, serving traditional Southern-fried chicken in 1972, according to Popeyes. After several months of lackluster performance, he reopened the restaurant as Popeyes, after Popeye Doyle of The French Connection movie while selling spicy, New Orleans-style chicken. Popeyes opened its first franchise restaurant four years later.

Meanwhile, work is expected to start in January on a separate nearby restaurant, Malone's, outside Hamilton Place mall, said Stacey Keating, vice president of corporate communications for mall owner CBL Properties.

She said the Malone's opening is slated for late 2023.

The restaurant, an upscale eatery that's new to Chattanooga, was first announced in late 2019.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.


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