This story was updated Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at 5:25 p.m. with more information.
After 16 years in business, Famous Dave's on Gunbarrel Road permanently closed its doors Saturday night.
The barbecue restaurant, at 2122 Gunbarrel Road, hoped to stay open through all of last weekend, but the owners said that employees needed to report for training for new jobs and that left them short on staff.
"We had to make the tough call to close on Saturday night," said co-owner Doug Renegar in a statement. "We hated to do that to our friends and guests hoping for one final Famous meal. But we were glad our team members found new positions. We hope the community understands that tough call."
Co-owner Tamara Lister said this might not be goodbye forever, though. She said the owners are currently looking for another location. The restaurant's lease at the Gunbarrel location was terminated so the property owner could renovate and re-purpose it.
"We don't have another opportunity right now," Lister said. "If we found the right property we would be happy to do that."
With 47 employees at the location, Famous Five Dining, the franchisee of Famous Dave's of America, has offered employees positions in the company's other restaurants and wedding catering clients will be serviced from another Tennessee Famous Dave's. Famous Five Dining has three other locations in Tennessee, including in Knoxville, Smyrna and Hermitage, according to its website.
"This is an emotional time for us," said co-owner Doug Renegar. "We opened our doors here 16 years ago and feel like we've truly been a blessing to the community, and that community to us. It feels a bit like we closed the family home."
Residents in the area won't be left without barbecue though with several other restaurants to choose from in the area, including Sticky Fingers Ribhouse, Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q, Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill and Mission BBQ all within a mile of the former Famous Dave's.
Owned by two husband-and-wife teams, the Famous Dave's on Gunbarrel had been a community gathering place since it opened, the owners said. They did an annual letter-writing campaign for soldiers and other service members serving overseas or recovering from injuries in military hospitals, and the restaurant helped raise over $800,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"We'll continue supporting these important groups through our other restaurants," Renegar said. "We're proud of what we've done, working side-by-side with some really great people. We've helped to do more than provide Chattanooga with great barbecue. We've helped change lives. Closing our restaurant will never take that away."
Contact staff writer Allison Shirk Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org, @AllisonSCollins or 423-757-6651.