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Newk's Eatery will expand into the Chattanooga market in March when it opens its newest restaurant at the Village at Waterside

UPDATE: The opening of Newk's Eatery in Chattanooga has been pushed back another week from March 11 to March 18. This story was updated Feb. 28, 2019, at 12:40 a.m.

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Newk's Eatery

Another new fast casual restaurant will enter the Chattanooga market next month in East Brainerd when Newk's Eatery opens in the Village at Waterside retail center near Hamilton Place Mall on March 18.

The 187-seat restaurant, located just off Shallowford Road on Lifestyle Way near the newly opened Publix, REI, Tropical Smoothie and Drake's restaurants, will feature grilled and toasted sandwiches, more than a dozen entrée salads, kettle-batch soups and hand-rolled pizzas for lunch and dinner.

Newk's Eatery was recently named "America's Favorite Fast-Casual Chains" by Restaurant Business Magazine and has grown to 122 locations from its start in Mississippi. Newk's Founder and CEO, Chris "Newk" Newcomb, started McAlister's Deli in 1989 with his father and launched Newk's Eatery in 2004 after selling McAlister's.

Company at a glance

Name: Newk’s Eatery

Headquarters: Jackson, Mississippi

Founders: Don and Chris Newcomb in 2004

Locations: 122, including 14 in Tennessee

Chattanooga site: 2380 Lifestyle Way opening March 4

Local franchise: Williams Food Group, which also owns Newk’s in Smyrna and Kennesaw, Tennessee

Average ticket price for full meal: $15-$17

Hours: Monday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Awards: “America’s Favorite Fast-Casual Chains“ by Restaurant Business Magazine, and “Best Overall Fast Casual” and “Most Kid Friendly Fast Casual” in its Consumers’ Choice awards by Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report.

Web site: www.newks.com

"Growing up, I was a foodie in the making, sharing my mom's passion for home-cooked meals, and watching my parents and their friends at work in the kitchen," Newcomb said. "Our vision for Newk's was to provide scratch-made recipes in a fast-casual environment, with one major differentiator – an open kitchen where our guests can see all the work that goes into the food and feel like they are part of the family."

The new Chattanooga Newk's Eatery is owned by Williams Food Group, a Smyrna, Georgia-based franchisee which previously operated Wendy's restaurants for 24 years.

"I first visited a Newk's at the recommendation of my brother, who used Newk's Eatery to cater lunch at his client's offices," said Paul G. Williams, president of the Williams Food Group. "I was so impressed with the fresh ingredients and spacious, open concept build-out that I set up a meeting with the corporate team and signed on to be a franchisee within weeks."

Williams already operates Newk's Eatery restaurants in Smyrna and Kennesaw, Georgia and the franchisee is looking to expand along the Interstate 75 corridor and may add more units in Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tennessee.

"We think Chattanooga is a beautiful city that is growing rapidly and we see a strong potential in Chattanooga," said Kaneishia Sims Hudson, marketing director for the Williams Food Group. "We have strong faith that Chattanooga will be a strong market for the Newk's Eatery brand and we are actively discussing opening new restaurants in the Chattanooga area. But of course we have to get this unit up and running first."

Newk's brag that every meal is prepared to-order in an open-view kitchen, using prime ingredients such as petite tenderloin steak, Atlantic salmon, all-white meat chicken breast and sushi-grade ahi tuna. All premium cuts are hand-sliced, flame-grilled and house-marinated. Newk's also owns its own bakery, making signature Dozen-Layer Cakes every day with flavors like Strawberry, Caramel and Chocolate.

"We take personal pride in the details – cooking with house-roasted garlic and house-infused olive oils, as well as hand-chopping 20 fresh produce items daily," said Michelle Spohnholz, vice president of marketing at Newk's Eatery.

The centerpiece of the Newk's dining room is The Roundtable – which offers a generous selection of free premium garnishes, including imported pepperoncini, Torinesi-style breadsticks, grated Parmesan, house-made croutons, bread and butter pickles, along with seasonal features like toasted garbanzo beans.

Hudson said the typical meal ticket is $15 to $17, including the entree, drink and often a signature dessert.

The 4,550-square-foot restaurant is taking shape and, when completed, will include a large patio overlooking a scenic water feature. Each Newks Eatery employs 50 to 80 full- and part-time workers and the new restaurants will be open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

To celebrate the opening, Newk's is hosting a "Dozen-Layer Cake Cutting Ceremony" on Monday at 10 a.m. and the restaurant will host four days of previews allowing sampling of the fast casual, fresh menu prior to its March 4 opening.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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