"Come get some home cooking" is the mantra for Market City Center's first commerical tenant, Bantam & Biddy.
The Atlanta-based food chain opened for business a little over a month ago at Market City Center in downtown Chattanooga, a $30 million structure that holds 125 apartments along with retail and office space on the first and second floors of the 10-story building.
Located at 728 Market Street and developed and managed by the Atlanta-based Simpson Organization, Market City Center opened in September 2017 and has been slow to fill with retail and residential tenants since then. Gail Battle, asset manager and vice president of the Simpson Organization, said they are in "advanced negotations" for nearly all of the commercial space though and are hoping to bring on new tenants within the next month or so.
"We have negotiations on virtually all of the commercial space right now, including a restaurant and other uses I can't divulge at the moment," she said.
The site, which the Simpson Organization bought from River City in 2015, had been a long vacant parcel surrounded by other buildings. The ground floor offers more than 17,000 square feet of retail space and the second floor includes over 22,000 square feet of office space. Prices range from $25-$30 per square foot.
On the residential side, the leasing agent for the building said that a little over 50 percent of the units are still vacant but they are seeing things pick up.
"The residential leasing is slower than we had hoped, but we are optimistic about the activity increasing with some fresh approaches to marketing and incentives for leasing we are going to start up," Battle said.
Currently, their website is advertising two months of free rent if a 12-month contract is signed. Prices range from about $1,300 per month for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom 683-square-foot apartment to approximately $2,100 per month for a two-bed, two-bath and 1,134-square-foot apartment.
Ryan Dean, operations director for Bantam & Biddy and the Hen House Restaurant Group — a subsidiary of the Simpson Organization, said Hen House bought the franchise rights to Bantam & Biddy last year with the hopes of expanding the restaurant concept to the rest of the Southeast. Chattanooga is the second location and will be a test spot for new products and services before they expand it into other cities, Dean said.
The original location in Atlanta was founded six years ago by co-owners Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere. Dean described the family-friendly restaurant as a sort of "old-school," "hodge-podge" chicken diner with an espresso bar, dessert options and beer, as well. The restaurant will eventually get its liquor license and serve up premium liquor and cocktails.
Dean said it seats 84 people and they hired about 50 employees to service the roughly 2,000-square-foot space.
"This building just seemed like a prime spot to open one," Dean said. "Chattanooga being such a foodie city, (people) like a lot of things that are different and things that are fresh. We thought Chattanooga would be a great place to start and to work out the kinks."
He said one thing they are bringing to the restaurant is "a lot of technology," including iPad minis that servers will bring to the table to pay on and a phone app available to download so customers can order elsewhere and be notified when their order is ready.
"We thought we could get a lot of feedback from the Chattanooga clientele," he said.
The restaurant's website states they are a casual eatery open for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring regional, all-natural and pastured poultry. The menu includes items such as a fried chicken and cheddar waffle for $14.50 at breakfast, a fried chicken po'boy for $12.95 at lunch, fried chicken tenders, chicken salad, chicken nachos and oven roasted chicken. The menu also includes several non-chicken items, including soups, salads, fish, omelettes, pancakes and more.
Bantam and Biddy is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Customers can order online and catering is also available.
Online: Watch video about Banton and Biddy at www.timesfreepress.com.
Contact staff writer Allison Shirk Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org, @AllisonSCollins or 423-757-6651.