This story was updated Friday, June 21, 2019, at 6:41 p.m. with more information.
The planned new Champy’s restaurant in East Ridge will be up to a $3.5 million investment and the biggest of the chain’s nine locations in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
A new Champy's World Famous Fried Chicken restaurant planned for East Ridge will be the chain's first eatery built from the ground up, owner Seth Champion said Friday.
The restaurant owner said he's looking for the site to hold a full-service drive-thru window, also a first for the Chattanooga-based business, as well as possibly serving breakfast.
"We're excited to explore those options. It will be our test store," he said about the eatery that's slated to open by March 2020 and employ about 80 people.
Champion said the new East Ridge restaurant, his third in the Chattanooga area, will go on a tract that formerly held a Shoney's at 6515 Ringgold Road near Interstate-75.
The eatery will be the biggest of Champy's nine locations in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama with 250 seats, two patios and more than 100 parking spaces, he said.
Champion said the investment will reach up to $3.5 million. But, he said, he likes the location near the planned $125 million Chattanooga Red Wolves SC soccer stadium and mixed-use complex nearby.
Also, the restaurant will be just across I-75 from the Bass Pro shop and other development going on near Camp Jordan.
East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams said Champy's is "an exceptional restaurant with delicious chicken."
"This is what our citizens have been asking for – more restaurant choices and this top-notch full service restaurant falls into that category," he said.
Champion, who started the chain with wife Crissy in Chattanooga 10 year ago, said the East Ridge store will serve as the brand's "model store" as it looks to expand further in the South.
Champion said he'd like to grow Champy's by three or four stores annually over the next 10 years.
"We've got a lot of interest with groups which have reached out to us to take the brand bigger," he said.
The restaurateur said he plans to look at the details of the Border Region Retail Development District in East Ridge. The state sales tax incentive allows the city to recapture the growth in sales tax collections within the zone and then plow those funds back into repaying investments in the area.
"We're looking forward to seeing how that shakes out," Champion said.
He said the new store will feature Champy's trademark "Mississippi Delta juke joint" atmosphere. Chattanooga artist Terry Cannon will design the space, Champion said, adding that they just wrapped up a new Champy's in Huntsville, Alabama, which opens Monday.
East Ridge City Manager Chris Dorsey said the city is the gateway into Tennessee on I-75 and that the Champions "recognize the value in investing in this community."
Champion said he and his wife "could not be more excited to help continue the positive growth that East Ridge is experiencing."
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.