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Staff Photo by Dave Flessner / The former Sofa King Juicy Burger, which closed last year, is being converted to a seafood restaurant scheduled to open in 2022.

For years, T.J. Jones tried to talk his friend and former Chattanooga resident Jeff Simmons into opening a store similar to one of his Ohio-based Seafood Station shops in Southeast Tennessee.

But it was not to be.

With Simmons nearing retirement and looking to turn his business over to family, Jones realized he would just have to open a similar establishment himself.

Jones had owned and operated a Mr. T's Pizza and Ice Cream in Red Bank for several years before getting into the automated machinery business for several decades. He grew tired of the travel and began looking at opening another place of his own, and the seafood concept appealed to him.

Chattanooga Seafood Co. will open in the former Sofa King Juicy Burger location near the intersection of Dayton Boulevard and Signal Mountain Road in late January or early February, Jones said. Sofa King closed at the beginning of 2021 and will not reopen.

Jones said he has been getting lots of advice from Simmons and expects that his friend will spend several weeks here after the store opens, offering still more tips and advice.

"He's done it for almost 25 years in Loveland, Ohio, near Cincinnati and has a lot of competition, but he's been successful," Jones said. "I'd say the most important thing he has told me is to maximize your product. Be sure to get the absolute best that you can, but to also maximize what you have on hand. Eliminate the waste."

To that end, Jones said the 2,000-square-foot Chattanooga Seafood will be modeled after Simmons' shop and will offer expected items such as fish and shellfish, but also pre-made soups, quiches, salads, dips, spreads and stock, as well as take-and-bake items.

He is particularly excited about the location and its proximity to North Chattanooga, Red Bank and Highway 27.

"You can get right off of 27 and be there and then get right back on once you leave," he said. "Chattanooga doesn't have this type of market and with the influx of people, we think the timing is right."

He plans to employ four people in addition to himself at the shop and will likely open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, but that could change depending on demand once open. COVID-19 and related supply-chain issues will also factor into when he opens and the products he will carry at any given time, but he said he has secured services of several suppliers for his product.

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

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