Tomlinson's Restaurant on Brainerd Road opened in the late spring of 1960 and featured a 100-seat main dining area and adjacent coffee shop. / Photo from Perry Mayo collection.

For a chunk of the 20th century, Tomlinson's Restaurant was a Chattanooga tradition.

Pictured here is the Tomlinson's Restaurant location at 5501 Brainerd Road, which opened in 1960. Before that, the family-owned restaurant was located on 428 McCallie Ave. across from Memorial Auditorium. That location closed in 1959 after a 25-year run.

At the time, the owner, R.L. "Bob" Tomlinson, attributed the closure to a drop-off in business caused by the conversion of McCallie Avenue to a one-way street. Tomlinson said the change chopped his business in half by "making access difficult," according to a report in the Chattanooga Daily Times.

Tomlinson reported that his new restaurant on Brainerd Road would cost the then-princely sum of $250,000, which is equal to about $2.1 million in inflation-adjusted dollars today.

"We will attempt to offer food of equal and even better quality in the future," he told the newspaper before the move.

In advertisements connected to the Brainerd location's June 1960 grand opening, the restaurant was described as "all-electric" with "giant paved parking areas."

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The new Tomlinson's Restaurant had seating for 100 guests in its main dining area, which also included a paneled space called the "broiler room" where customers could watch rotisserie-cooked meats prepared. There was an adjacent, 44-seat coffee shop decorated in an Asian theme including a waterfall and pool.

The restaurant menu included soups, gumbo, seafood, skillet-fried chicken, "honest to goodness" country ham, spring lamb and a selection of vegetables. Apple pie was a staple of the desert menu, and special occasion entrees included filet mignon and stone crab.

One of the advertising mottos of the establishment in 1960 was "dining is a pleasure instead of a necessity."

What's more, the owners enticed customers with this ad copy: "At least once a day, preferably in the cool of the evening, one should throw all cares to the world and dine leisurely and well."

The Tomlinson's location at 5501 Brainerd Road, near the intersection of Brainerd Road and Spring Creek Road, later became the home of the Sailmaker Restaurant and still later the Fifth Quarter, according to the Chattanooga city directory. In more recent years, the address has been home to a CVS Pharmacy.

The photograph is part of the archive of images donated by Perry Mayo. Follow the "Remember when, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.

Contact Mark Kennedy at