America's biggest Waffle House franchisee is expanding in Chattanooga with plans to open another Waffle House restaurant in East Brainerd early next year on the site of a former Pizza Hut restaurant.
Choo Choo Waffles, which operates 18 Waffle Houses in Southeast Tennessee and is part of Southern Legacy Waffles headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, is building another Waffle House at East Brainerd Road and Jenkins Road.
The corner lot at 7801 E. Brainerd Road previously housed a Pizza Hut, which shut down and was demolished in the past year after the property was bought in March 2019 by Crown Legacy Investments, the real estate and construction business arm of Southern Legacy Waffles.
The 2,441-square-foot Pizza Hut was built on the site in 1977, according to the Hamilton County Assessor's Office. Pizza Hut has or plans to close hundreds of its restaurants across the country due to shifting market preferences and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Njeri Boss, the public relations director for Waffle House Inc., said the new East Brainerd Waffle House will be similar to other Waffle House eateries in the market and open after the first of the new year.
Boss said the franchise owner is expanding to East Brainerd to "provide good food and good service to the community" and will employ 25 to 30 associates. Choo Choo Waffles has begun recruiting workers for the new restaurant.
The Waffle House franchise, which is headed by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate Steve Hutchens, is the oldest and largest Waffle House franchisee in the country with 73 restaurants in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee and will soon expand into Virginia.
The company owns Lookout Waffles, LLC, which operates 20 Waffle Houses in North Georgia and North Carolina, Rocky Top Waffles, LLC, which has 34 Waffle House's in Tennessee from Abington, Virginia to Knoxville, and Choo-Choo Waffles, LLC, which operates Waffle Houses in the Chattanooga area.
Kirk Lewis, the company's executive vice president of operations, lives in the East Brainerd area.
Contact Dave Flessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340