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Photo by Barry Courter / Mark "Hoppy" Hopkins recently bought the North River Corner Market and has rededictated it to serving the neighborbood.

Mark Hopkins is no stranger to the restaurant or bar business in Chattanooga.

Over the years, "Hoppy" has owned The Stone Lion Tavern, an iconic corner pub in the '80s, Father Abrahams and Hoppy's Last Resort, serving up ice cold beer, thick burgers and sandwiches to rival any in town.

When he decided to buy the North River Corner Market and reopened the 80-year-old neighborhood eatery in late August, he knew those items would be featured. But he said also knew that he would have to feature some of the grill items that Fedora Evans, the previous owner, was known for before health issues slowed her down.

"She had a BLT that when you mention it to anybody, they say, 'That thing had a pound of bacon on it,'" Hopkins said.

"Her breakfast biscuits had bacon coming out the sides like wings. We knew we'd have to get those right."

Evans owns the building, which had been a butcher shop in a previous life, and Hopkins said she has been coming in regularly to teach him how to make her crowd pleasers. One such item is a bologna burger that Hopkins said he had to learn how to make. At first bought the wrong kind of bologna.

"I asked her if you could really tell the difference. She said, 'Fine, fry yours up and then we'll fry mine up.' She was right, of course, and I knew if I wanted to get her customers back, it had to be right."

Hopkins has also added several of the popular items from his previous restaurants including the Black Angus burgers, Reubens and Hot Chicken Philly.

"The Chicken Philly is back," he said.

Other offerings include a Pimento Cheese Burger and the Black and Bleu featuring Cajun spices, pepper jack cheese, bleu cheese dressing and crumbles on a toasted bun. Hopkins said he has discovered that not everyone wants a burger featuring 5/8ths pounds of beef, so he has started offering them as sliders.

Fans of his previous restaurants will also remember that he had purchased three of the steamers once used at Gus's on the strip in Knoxville near the UTK campus.

"I considered going back to the steamers, but thought panini's made more sense. We will roll those out soon," he said.

The Stone Lion was known as the place to get a cold beer for many, and Hopkins said he has put a lot of effort into his beer selection at the market.

"It's all the best of the best and the regional best stuff," he said. "I try to stay on top of what is the best of the best and the "mix six" offering is very popular. You can get a single and try something new."

He also offers things like dog food and toilet paper or other items "that you forget you need until you get home. I had one guy ask if I have motor oil. I didn't even think of it because I don't have gas pumps. But, if a neighbor asks for it, I will try to get it."

The store is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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Photo by Barry Courter / Hoppy's North River Corner Market opened recently on Bell Avenue in North Chattanooga and carries a variety of sundries, and includes a kitchen serving breadfast, lunch and dinner.
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