Correction: This story has been updated to remove offensive language that does not reflect our standards.
On an average afternoon, take a walk down Main Street and you could grab a coffee or pastry at Niedlov's Breadworks, skip across brick-lined Station Street, browse boutiques and craft merchants, or even grab a cold beer while watching your dog frolic over synthetic grass.
If you hit it just right, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to be exact, you can also grab a bite of home cookin' at Zarzour's Cafe. The tiny, family-owned diner turned 101 this year, meaning that long before John Wise-developed properties shot up in the Southside or the Chattanooga Choo Choo renovated its spaces for the likes of Frothy Monkey, American Draft or Stir, there was Zarzour's on Rossville Avenue.
Zarzour's has survived two world wars, the Great Depression and four generations of family ownership.
Shannon Fuller has worked at the restaurant since 1996 alongside her husband, Dixie Fuller, who now owns the joint. In that time, she's seen a lot change.
In the '90s, says Fuller, the Southside was more industrial. Family-owned car lots and open space meant not many things were open after dark.
As Chattanooga has transformed itself, so has the Southside. "It's been like a revival," she says.
Now, cars line the streets, apartments have shot skyward, and bars are full.
Fuller does wonder where the neighborhood's new residents work — at least the ones who shell out $15 for cocktails and $1,000 for rent — but she's glad to see it. The cafe, at 1627 Rossville Ave., still gets its regulars, some who have come for generations.
When asked where she recommends visiting, Fuller will remind you that, to her, the Southside stretches from Market Street to Central Avenue. Others would argue the block west between Market and Broad streets, home to Hi-Fi Clyde's and the Feed Co., is also part of the neighborhood.
Fuller brags about Taqueria Jalisco and the buns she buys from Niedlov's; the art galleries that have sprung up; and the enjoyment she gets just driving around in her golf cart.
She hopes the Southside keeps its current vibe without becoming too congested — like the North Shore, she jokes.
Regardless, Fuller wouldn't trade it for anything.
"I love Chattanooga," she proclaims. "You couldn't get me to move anywhere else."
BY THE NUMBERS
WHO WE ARE
Median income: $40,375
Median age: 35
Source: 2017 American Community Survey
» This neighborhood, more than almost any other in America, has new residents from other areas. Similarly, many of the residences in the neighborhood are newer, built in 2000 or more recently; though a number of residences were also built between 1940 and 1969.
WHERE WE LIVE
Median home price: $339,203
Average rental price: $1,239
» The Southside has experienced a massive boom in construction over the last several years with developers building townhomes, multiple multi-million-dollar apartment complexes and an array of new businesses. Many of the complexes are already leasing rentals which have pushed rental prices higher overall, and millions more dollars worth of development is slated for the area. Nearly every week, headlines announce new retail and apartments planned for the Southside.
With the exception of Battle Academy, Southside students are zoned for schools within the district's Opportunity Zone, which provides more staff, targeted support and a heightened urgency for improvement in the system's struggling schools.
Battle Academy (preK-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 3/5 overall, 3/5 in language arts, 3/5 in math, 3/5 in science
» Recognized as a Magnet School of Excellence by the Magnet Schools of America in 2006 & 2013, demand exceeds the number of spots available each year.
Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy (preK-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 3/5 overall, 2/5 in language arts, 1/5 in math, 5/5 in science
» Building on a community push to add art to area schools, popular music sensation Usher Raymond, in partnership with State Farm and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, supplied Calvin Donaldson with art and music equipment and a full-time art teacher, enabling the school to provide all its students an art class each week.
Orchard Knob Middle
Proficiency (TVAAS): 3/5 overall, 3/5 in language arts, 1/5 in math, 5/5 in science
» One of 12 schools in the district's Opportunity Zone, OKMS is one of four pilots for a community school concept that launched in fall 2019 to bring even more resources and programs to address student and family needs. In 2018, students gained 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.
The Howard School
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 1/5 in language arts, 1/5 in math, 3/5 in science
Average ACT score: 15 composite
» In an effort to get more local students career-ready, the district debuted Future Ready Institutes at high schools in 2018. The Institutes partner with the local business community to offer career-themed education through small, targeted learning communities within each high school. Howard is home to the Erlanger Institute of Healthcare and Innovation, the Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the Institute of Robotics and Welding and the Institute of Architecture and Construction. The school's principal, LeAndrea Ware — a Howard alumnus — was named Hamilton County's Principal of the Year for 2018. Around the same time, Ware also celebrated the groundbreaking of the school's new track and stadium, slated to be completed in time for a fall 2019 grand opening.
Source: 2018 State Report Card, HCDE
*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.
A brand-new open enrollment middle school, Howard Connect Academy, will reopen the old Howard Middle School campus starting in August 2019. In its first year, the new school will open with 150 sixth-grade students and add another 150 for the next two years, until it has classes of sixth through eighth grade.
WHAT WE DO FOR FUN
Chattanooga Choo Choo
A hub for transportation in the city for decades, this historic train station has been converted into a hotel, garden and bar. Situated on a lively stretch of Market Street, the hotel offers easy access to the city, as well as on-site food and entertainment options that draw even locals. Songbirds houses a collection of some of the rarest guitars in the world along with a new concert space; Nashville transplant Frothy Monkey elevates coffee drinks and Southern cuisine with fresh ingredients and fusion style; and Stir serves up oysters, craft cocktails and more. Those looking to hit the rest of the town can hop on the electric shuttle, which runs every 10 minutes and includes stops for downtown shopping and sightseeing. 1400 Market St. Call 423-266-5000.
Main Terrain Art Park
Stretching through a full city block between West Main and West 13th streets, this is one of Chattanooga's narrowest, yet unique, green spaces. The 1.72-acre parcel of land was developed by the city with art installations and landscaping to revitalize the area and add to the list of things to do and places to go on Main Street. The installations are meant to inspire physical activity through interaction that also allows visitors to alter the art formations, and the landscape serves as an attractive example of stormwater runoff management.
Sculpture Fields at Montague Park
Only a stone's throw from the Southside is the largest sculpture park in the Southeast. Sculptures are still being added and developers are continuing to terraform the area in a multi-phase project. The park's curators hope to eventually have about 70 sculptures as well as landscaping that creates a commemorative forest with outdoor "rooms" created by trees and native plants. Free to visit; check the park's website for special events, routinely held at the space. 1800 Polk St. Visit sculpturefields.org.
Play Wash Pint
For those who want to bring their four-legged friends along for a day out, this dog park-meets-bar is the perfect place to grab a drink and socialize. The park features 11,000 square feet of synthetic grass, separate yards for big and small dogs, and a variety of benches, lawn chairs, bar stools and covered seating options for pet parents. It costs $5 per furry friend to get in, but the bar offers an affordable selection of brews and craft beers. And it's close to other bars and restaurants like Niedlov's, Slick's Burgers, State of Confusion and the Flying Squirrel Bar, which also offer outdoor seating for furry friends. 113 Johnson St. Call 423-643-2275.
The Southside is a popular spot for dining, with a growing number of locally owned spots that draw diners from around the Greater Chattanooga area. The following have at least a 4-star average (out of 5) on Yelp.
Perennially popular with Chattanooga Times Free Press readers — it was named Best Dining Experience and Best Romantic Restaurant and a finalist for Best All-Around Restaurant in the 2018 readers choice awards — Alleia serves up rustic Italian food, using fresh, local ingredients to create handmade pasta dishes, Neapolitan style pizza, as well as an array of antipasti, insalate and secondi with seasonally changing options. 25 E. Main St. Call 423-305-6990.
Feed Co. Table and Tavern
Combining farm-fresh cuisine with a relaxed yet lively atmosphere, Feed has a full bar with rotating craft beer selections as well as an arcade and the largest covered outdoor patio in Chattanooga. The patio is a popular spot for Sunday brunch, which often features live music. 201 W. Main St. Call 423-708-8500.
Flying Squirrel Bar
With both a kitchen and a full bar, the Flying Squirrel offers everything from small plates to main courses and cocktails, and is now focusing on making sure everything on the menu can be easily (and deliciously) converted to vegan upon request. 55 Johnson St. Call 423-602-5980.
With outdoor seating and a full bar, Slick's is the perfect place for a causal burger that feels like it was cooked on your grill at home. Build your own burgers, signature creations and three different sizes means there's something for everyone. The restaurant's founders also own Southside Pizza just down the street. 309 E. Main St. Call 423-760-4878.
State of Confusion
This brand-new restaurant isn't confused about what it's trying to offer. The 277-seat eatery offers plenty of outdoor seating, frequent live music and an atmosphere that's hard to beat. The menu varies from upscale Peruvian dishes like ceviche, to comforts like burgers and canned wine that will fit anyone's palate. 301 E. Main St. Call 423-760-3473.
An authentic Mexican restaurant with two locations that focuses on dishes you can't get elsewhere and served in a welcoming, warm environment. With several locations now branching off from the flagship Rossville Avenue spot — which is set to soon move into a brand-new space across the street — even the restaurant's spinoff food truck is popular. It was named a finalist for Best Food Truck by Chattanooga Times Free Press readers in 2018. 1634 Rossville Ave. Call 423-509-3430.
Adjoining Public House is The Social, which shares a menu with the restaurant and offers local beers on tap, cocktails, a big-screen TV, casual seating arrangements and a bevy of nightly specials. Public House, an elevated meat-and-three, earned a finalist spot in the 2018 "Best of the Best" awards, with Chattanooga Times Free Press readers considering it one of the three best places in town for a business lunch. 1110 Market St. Call 423-266-3366.
This 100-plus-year-old cafe serves down-home, family eats every day for lunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., if the food lasts that long. Regulars and rookies alike come for the burgers, daily specials and sides. 1627 Rossville Ave. Call 423- 266-0424.
Main Street Farmers Market
When: Full operation year-round, every Wednesday from 4-6 p.m.
Where: Corner of Main and Chestnut streets
With no grocery in the immediate area, this producers-only, farmer-run market brings locally grown products to the community.
The Southside falls within city limits and is therefore 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 is 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 and to start service.