Commerce and community collide in East Brainerd, which lies east of Chickamauga Creek and south of Interstate 75, stretching to Standifer Gap Road.
Britton Partain recently relocated from Lexington, Kentucky, to manage one of the area's newest restaurants — Drake's — which boasts big burgers, fresh sushi and a homey patio vibe. With the area's largest mall, Hamilton Place, and dozens of businesses a stone's throw away, weary shoppers and professionals can relax by the fire or wet their whistle with one of Drake's more than 20 craft beers.
"We have it all: burgers, beer, sushi, salads, and then the craft beers on tap," Partain says. "Other restaurants that I worked at I would never want to eat there when I was off work, but I find myself here all the time. On my off-days I come and get some some food because it's so good."
Partain says he moved for the job opportunity, affordability and because the area is "really up-and-coming."
"I have some cousins that have lived here for a few years, and they said this whole area just kind of sprouted up and has been really flourishing," he says. "It's got a big-city feel but it's also a small-town vibe. You're still getting a lot of that Southern hospitality from everyone around."
Drake's is a franchise with 10 other locations scattered across the Southeast and Midwest. The Chattanooga location is at the front of the Publix shopping center on the corner of Gunbarrel and McCutchen roads. It features two bars but is also family-friendly to cater to the many subdivisions and schools nearby.
"When we say that it's like a home, we really mean that it's a very family-friendly environment," says Partain. "We want everybody that steps in to realize they're our guest."
East Brainerd is home to dozens of restaurants — including many "Best of the Best" winners as nominated and voted on by Times Free Press readers each year.
Best Meal for the Money
Best Early Bird Dinner
2014 Gunbarrel Road; 423-805-2233
2213 Hamilton Place Blvd.; 423-899-5341
1414 Jenkins Road; 423-855-4104
Rain Thai Bistro
6933 Lee Highway, Suite 400; 423-386-5586
Best Salad Bar
2115 Gunbarrel Road; 423-296-1096
Maple Street Biscuit Co.
2114 Gunbarrel Road; 423-713-9368
Best Food Truck
Fat Boy's Roadside Eats
8106 Standifer Gap Road; 423-715-0059
The Bread Basket
7804 East Brainerd Road; 423-510-8881
BY THE NUMBERS
Since East Brainerd is unincorporated, exact growth numbers aren't available. (The 37421 ZIP code is large and includes other populous areas.) However, there are a number of new developments in the area. For example, a pair of Chattanooga developers are building nearly 200 apartments between two projects on Shallowford Road.
WHERE WE LIVE
Median sales price: $213,000 in 2018; $203,500 in 2017
New listings: 983 in 2018; 1,073 in 2017
Sales closed: 805 in 2018; 886 in 2017
Source: Greater Chattanooga Realtors annual report
Apison Elementary (preK-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 5/5 overall, 5/5 in language arts, 4/5 in math, 3/5 in science
» Sara Pratt from Apison Elementary was selected as a Southeast Region-level finalist for 2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. Pratt is in her fourth year of teaching and has spent all of that time at Apison Elementary teaching fourth grade.
East Brainerd Elementary (K-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 4/5 in language arts, 1/5 in math, 1/5 in science
Westview Elementary (K-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 5/5 overall, 5/5 in language arts, 2/5 in math, 5/5 in science
» Westview was named a 2018 Reward School, the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee, for improving overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students and student groups. In 2018, about 20 percent of schools in the state — including East Brainerd-zoned Apison Elementary — earned Reward status.
East Hamilton School (6-12)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 2/5 in language arts, 1/5 in math, 1/5 in science
Average ACT score: 22.3 composite
» The career-oriented applications instilled with the opening of one of several tech-heavy Volkswagen eLabs in fall 2017 has continued as East Hamilton High launched the Bryan College Institute of Leadership, Business and Marketing and the Institute of Innovate Engineering in 2018 as part of the district's Future Ready initiative. Already suffering from overcrowding after opening in 2009, EHS will be split with the construction of a new middle school. The $42 million facility is due to open in time for the 2020-21 school year.
Proficiency (TVAAS): 5/5 overall, 4/5 in language arts, 3/5 in math, 5/5 in science
» Students here have more hands-on opportunities thanks to one of the 16 Volkswagen eLabs in select schools across the district. Filled with digital fabrication tools, including automated manufacturing equipment, programmable microcomputers, renewable energy kits, 3-D printers, robotics and laser cutters, the labs are staffed by well-versed professionals in an overall effort to supply kids with skills directly relevant to the workforce.
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 3/5 in language arts, 1/5 in math, 4/5 in science
Average ACT score: 20.4 composite
» One of only two schools in the district with an International Baccalaureate program, Ooltewah High, along with Signal Mountain Middle/High, is the site of an Institute of International Baccalaureate Studies as part of the district's Future Ready initiative. Launched in 2018, the Institutes partner with the local business community to offer career-themed education through small, targeted learning communities within each high school. OHS is also home to the Institute of Architecture and Engineering Design and the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics.
Tyner Academy (9-12)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 5/5 overall, 5/5 in language arts, 4/5 in math, 3/5 in science
Average ACT score: 17.6 composite
» In January 2019, UTC signed on to sponsor Tyner Academy's Institute of Teaching and Learning. The math, science and technology focused magnet school is also home to the EPB Institute of Technology and Networking and the Institute of Health Sciences.
Source: 2018 State Report Card
*The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System scale runs from 1-5, with 1 denoting the least effective schools/districts and least amount of progress toward the Standard for Academic Growth.
» East Brainerd is also home to a number of private schools, including Grace Baptist Academy, Silverdale Baptist Academy, St. Nicholas Episcopal School and Standifer Gap Seventh-day Adventist School.
WHAT WE DO FOR FUN
This membership-based 130-acre outdoor sanctuary has hiking trails and beautiful scenery, including a creek for canoe/kayak put-ins and splashing around. In fitting with its mission to promote stewardship of environmental, cultural and historical resources, Audubon hosts a variety of events and has a museum. 900 N. Sanctuary Road. Call 423-892-1499.
» Wauhatchie School, which launched the first forest kindergarten in the state in 2015, is starting a satellite location at Audubon Acres in fall 2019. For ages 3-6, the new forest preschool will build on the popular education trend when it opens in August.
Standifer Gap Park
Operated by Hamilton County, this park offers a playground and half-mile asphalt walking track along with a sand volleyball court, eight lighted tennis courts, football and baseball fields. 8327 Standifer Gap Road.
1428 Jenkins Road
Built as a residence for a local family, the stately Greek Revival style home has since been transformed into a civic center that, in conjunction with the surrounding park, serves as a hub for the community. While available for private events, the house holds routine public gatherings, including The Backlot: A Place for Film, SongWriter's Night, Film Noir screenings and Ambi Artists.
The park has a daily draw. Between its off-leash dog park, 3,200-foot paved walking trail, bocce ball court, picnic tables, grills and acres of meadows, the 22-acre haven definitely draws a crowd.
Heritage Park is also the site of several popular annual community events.
Hubfest: Typically held over Mother's Day weekend, this free event features crafts, vendors, parades and more.
Movies in the Park at Dark: Bridge Christian Church has welcomed local families to a movie showing under the stars for the past seven summers.
Bark in the Park: In October, Jack Benson Heritage Park goes to the dogs when canines and their companions turn out for a day of service dog demonstrations, adoption fairs, a costume contest and parade and more.
East Brainerd Community Tree Lighting: For the past four years, the community has come together to celebrate the Christmas season with caroling, free cookies and cider, performances from local school and church choirs and an appearance from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
The Chattanooga Women's Connection hosts a luncheon beginning at 11:30 a.m. the second Thursday of every month at the Holiday Inn at 2232 Center St. off of Shallowford Road. Cost to eat is $18, though all ladies are invited for networking and featured speaker on a variety of topics. Contact Ann Cullen at 544-7881 for more information or to RSVP.
The Kiwanis Club of East Brainerd is a group of men and women dedicated to changing the world one community and one child at a time. The group meets every Friday at noon at Heritage House, 1428 Jenkins Road.
The Rotary Club of Chattanooga Hamilton Place meets each Wednesday at noon at Metro Tab Church, 2101 W. Shepherd Road. The international civic organization works to solve health and social problems.
East Brainerd doesn't have its own municipal government and is instead governed by the city of Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga City Council meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Building behind city hall, located at 1000 Lindsay St. The meeting is live-streamed, as are the preceding agenda session and department reports, which start at 3 p.m. View meetings at ustream.tv/channel/chattanooga-council-meeting. View agenda sessions at ustream.tv/channel/city-council-committee-meeting.
Recycling: The city offers free curbside recycling and provides containers for the single-stream service. Save for glass, most household items are accepted. Call 311 to see if your address lies within the pickup area.