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Dustin Choate, general manager at the Feed Company Table and Tavern, talks about the wood decor and benefits of clustering fine restaurants in one area of the Southside.
It's a dream come true. We want to get a really solid core menu down, and then knock people's socks off with specials.

Three friends who moved to Chattanooga about a decade ago and opened restaurants here have now joined forces to launch The Feed Co. Table & Tavern.

It's a 250-seat eatery in a cavernous, 8,000-square-foot space in the Craftworks Building, an old warehouse at 201 W. Main St. in Chattanooga's booming Southside neighborhood.

"It's been many things in the past," Dustin Choate, one of the restaurant's partners, said of the building. Over the years, he said, it's housed a distillery, a paper company and the Chattanooga Feed Company.

"That's where we got the name from," Choate said.

Choate is owner of Tremont Tavern, a popular North Chattanooga spot that specializes in beer on tap and burgers. The other partners are Miguel Morales, owner of the 1885 Grill in St. Elmo, and Charlie Loomis, who worked as head chef at Green Life Grocery (now Whole Foods) and the short-lived restaurant near the grocery store, Elemental, now the site of Root Kitchen & Wine Bar.

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Charlie Loomis, executive chef and partner, displays several culinary delights Wednesday afternoon at the Feed Company Table and Tavern, scheduled to open in early August at 201 W. Main Street.

"It's a dream come true," Loomis said of the new eatery, which opens to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 4. "We want to get a really solid core menu down, and then knock people's socks off with specials."

The partners spent a year developing their new restaurant. Six months of planning were followed by six months of construction work. Choate is happy the partners decided to launch the business when they did.

"Now, with the way Southside has blown up over the last year, we're not sure we could afford the place," he said.

Several new Southside restaurants have opened recently, such as Clyde's on Main. Other are in the works, including a 40-seat bistro at Main Street Meats. Others are planned, such as the Nashville-based Sam's Sports Grill and the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Blue Fish Oyster Bar to be built inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel facing Market Street.

The more the merrier, said Choate.

"It's one of the reasons that we picked this spot," Choate said. "You cluster. That's been shown time and time again."

He said he regularly sees customers turn away at the door at Tremont Tavern because it's full, and the same thing happens at the 1885 Grill. He doesn't see the restaurant scene as saturated, since he said Chattanooga keeps growing.

"Chattanooga is a restaurant town," Choate said. "The neighborhood here is the fastest-growing section of Chattanooga."

The menu for the new Feed Co. Taven will range from Sloppy Joe's and burgers for $8 to bone-in ribeyes for $30 with classic steakhouse sides, such as creamed spinach, along with seafood and a wide-variety of vegetarian options.

"It's Southern-inspired [food], but we're kind of bringing it full circle to what we grew up eating," he said.

It's all made from scratch, Loomis said.

"We're making our own Saltines," he said. Feed Co. will serve a wide variety of vegetables pickled in-house, such as okra and green beans. The focus is on seasonal, local produce, but the restaurant will be able to quick-freeze perishables such as blueberries to serve in pies in the middle of winter.

"That's one of my favorite things," Loomis said.

The eatery is divided in two. One half is for more formal dining that will close around 10 p.m., and the other half is a tavern that will stay open late.

The tavern has stool seating, several arcade-style video games and a covered 70-seat patio. On Mondays, the tavern will have open mic night, Choate said, Tuesdays will be a meet-the-brewer beer special night and Wednesdays will be ladies night.

"The rest of the week, we haven't fleshed out, yet," he said.

The tavern will keep 32 beers on tap, including 18 mostly local and regional brands that don't rotate. About 100 types of bottled beer will be for sale.

"Our flagship drink is going to be called the Feedback," he said. It's a combination of muddle peaches and Rosemary, maple sugar simple syrup, fresh lime juice and Chattanooga Whiskey.

Choate stressed that the restaurant will cater to people of all ages.

"We are very kid-friendly," he said. "We want people to bring their kids here. People are getting away from using baby sitters."

Choate declined to say what the partners spent on the venture, or how long the lease is for the space, other than it's long-term. The business will initially employ about 60 people.

The restaurant's tables are made of reclaimed wood, and the decorations include chandeliers made from old fire extinguishers and wooden molds used in foundries. The stuff came from Morales' father-in-law, Les White, of Joliet, Ga., who owns the mill featured in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes." The partners made the 3.5-hour journey to pick items from White's collection.

"He's just a retired contractor, custom home-builder, who has a passion for all things old," said his daughter, Leslie Morales.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/tim.omarzu or twitter.com/TimOmarzu or 423-757-6651.

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