Finally, the right opportunity fell into place.
Steve Flynn says that workmen known as "wall dogs" used to go around and paint advertisements on the side of Chattanooga buildings in the early 1920s and 1930s.
Such giant ads were revealed on a Cherokee Boulevard building four years ago during construction of an adjacent structure at Manning Street. While the new offices at 325 Cherokee covered up the ads again, Flynn had a photo of them enlarged and put it on the inside of his restaurant there.
"It's a great conversation piece. It brings back some hidden history," he said about the wall art on his North Shore restaurant known as Stevarino's that he plans to open by April 15.
The new restaurant will sit on the ground floor of the three-story, 18,000-square-foot commercial building raised two years ago by Fletcher Bright Co. in the growing area.
Just across Cherokee, a 190-unit, $37 million apartment complex on the former site of The Loft restaurant is the newest housing to emerge.
"With all the residential going up, it's a perfect match," Flynn said.
The 125-seat eatery will feature primarily Italian fare with a lot of salads and hoagies along with New York pizza, said the restaurateur.
"There's a lot of community," said the 56-year-old Flynn. "We like locals. I like to know people's names. We're a family restaurant that has a pub."
Cardon Smith, a vice president for Fletcher Bright Co., said the building is now fully leased.
Lawson Winchester Financial has the third floor, he said, while Brock Insurance Agency and an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers district office have the second floor. Insurer Aflac and Stevarino's occupy the first floor, Smith said.
"It's a great location and a wonderful restaurant concept that I think Chattanooga will enjoy," he said.
Flynn declined to say how much he and business partner Kerry Hoefer are putting into the new venture, calling it "a substantial investment."
In terms of parking, he said there's a lot behind the building. Also, Flynn said, he has made arrangements with Quality Tire across Cherokee to use that lot after 6 p.m.
The eatery will be Flynn's third Stevarino's in the Chattanooga area. He has one each in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, and in Scottsboro, Alabama, he said.
Flynn moved to the area 13 years ago from Fort Myers, Florida, to look at some property here. He bought an old building in South Pittsburg and opened his first Stevarino's there in 2006. The second came a year later, he said.
Flynn said he'd been looking for a Chattanooga location for several years.
"Finally, the right opportunity fell into place," he said.
The big wall ad on the building next door showed an old-fashioned dining menu. Also, there were giant ads for Double Cola and Sealtest Ice Cream.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.
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