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Photo by Dave Flessner / Jefferson's restaurant closes after nearly 10 years of operations on Fountain Square in downtown Chattanooga. The sports bar and restaurant was housed in a century-old building on Georgia Avenue across from the Hamilton County courthouse.

A decade after its opening, Jefferson's has closed on the Fountain Square in downtown Chattanooga as the latest restaurant victim of the coronavirus.

The owners of the Jefferson's franchise in Chattanooga said they hope "to someday be able to serve the Chattanooga area again," but the sports bar at 618 Georgia Avenue is now "permanently closed."

"It's been a pleasure and honor to serve this wonderful community for nearly a decade and we cannot express our appreciation enough to the amazing guests and staff," the owners of the local Jefferson's restaurant said in a Facebook post about the restaurant closing. "We will cherish the memories made and encourage you to visit other awesome Jefferson's locations throughout the Southeast."

Jefferson's, which was started by a group of former Jacksonville State University students in Jacksonville, Alabama in 1991, continues to operate 29 other company- and franchise-owned restaurants, including other locations in the region in Trenton, Cartersville, Rome and Summerville in Northwest Georgia and in Fort Payne, Scottsboro and Gadsden in Northeast Alabama. Jefferson's also has other locations in Tennessee in Manchester, Murfreesboro and Fairview.

Jefferson's specializes in hamburgers, chicken wings and oysters. Like other restaurants and taverns that cater to sports fans and social gatherings, the coronavirus pandemic has limited bar activity and cut sales for Jefferson's this year.

Denise Crowell and Cyndi Roberts opened the Jefferson's franchise in Chattanooga in January 2011 in the site of where Brass Register became a downtown landmark across from the Hamilton County Courthouse for 27 years before it closed in 1999. The Brass Register originally opened in 1973, the first establishment to do so after the city allowed liquor by the drink.

The restaurant was housed in a 9,641 square feet house built in 1920.

The closing of Jefferson's follows the closing of Beast + Barrel on the Northshore last month, Karl's restaurant in Hixson in the spring and several Pizza Hut restaurants in Chattanooga already this year.

Nationwide, a survey in September by the National Restaurant Association estimates that nearly one in six restaurants, of nearly 100,000 restaurants, may ultimately close or shut down for prolonged periods, putting nearly 3 million employees out of work.

The survey, which asked restaurant operators in September about the six-month impact of the pandemic on their businesses, found that the food service industry lost $165 billion in revenue March–July and is on track to lose $240 billion this year.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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