Greeson: Celebrating eight decades of Wally's on McCallie goodness

Greeson: Celebrating eight decades of Wally's on McCallie goodness

March 7th, 2017 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

Wally's Restaurant on McCallie Avenue offers chicken strips with macaroni and cheese, turnip greens, baked apples and iced tea.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

We spend a lot of time reviewing the ways we have grown as a city.

It's a mixture of pride and promotion, a combination of celebration and proclamation.

And it's worthy.

There's a danger in this, a danger in overlooking the bedrock businesses that have been at the the city's foundation and transformation.

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Think about the decade-long seeds planted to grow VW. Think about the generations of people who stayed at the Choo Choo before there were a dozen riverfront hotel options.

The food scene is no different. The scene in Chattanooga proper has rolled from pool rooms to fern bars to international cuisine.

Well, today, we are going to go old-school.

We're going to talk about a place that embraces posters rather than pool tables, famous and familiar faces more than ferns, and the only way you'll think they have international fare is if you think a Chili Dog is from South America.

In truth, if Chattanooga had a voice, it likely would be city cheerleader and advocate Scottie Probasco. If it had a stare, it would be the family first, business-second glare of Jack Lupton. If it had a historian, it would be the nobility and grace of Ruth Holmberg.

And if it were going to have a lunch counter, Chattanooga would be waiting for a seat at Wally's on McCallie Avenue.

Later this spring — April 25 to be exact — Wally's will celebrate its 80th birthday. Eighty years of service and sandwiches. Eight decades of meals and much more.

"I think this is going to be special," said Gary Meadows, owner of the iconic restaurant that is open for breakfast and lunch weekdays. "We have been so fortunate and so blessed to have so many people come and have a meal with us, that this is a chance for us to give back to our great customers.

"There are more and more places to eat in Chattanooga than ever before, but this is a way to celebrate with all those who have helped us do this for 80 years."

The life span of any business for that duration is filled with obstacles. Fires. Ownership turnover. An ever-changing business model, especially in the food world.

Wally's started as a hamburger joint that was as much known for doughnuts as anything.

"I've been told they rivaled Krispy Kreme," Meadows said of the early hallmark of a Wally's meal, "and that the Krispy Kreme folks around town were happy when they quit selling them."

Wally's became a staple because of its traditional hamburgers and hot dogs through the 1950s. It has transitioned to being arguably the city's best meat-and-three.

For the celebration, Meadows and his crew are buckling up for a full-blown party that features an eye-popping, hard-to-believe offer.

On April 25, Wally's is offering 40-cent hamburgers, 30-cent hot dogs and chili dogs (think more the South than South America, friends), fries for a quarter and Cokes for a nickel.

Read that again.

And as much as the menu will create a buzz for the cheapskates among us, the guest list is going to be just as eye-catching.

There will be familiar faces from the counter regulars and longtime employees to any number of politicians who have cut a deal while cutting a country-fried steak in a booth in the back.

It's a grand idea for a grand party for a place with a grand tradition.

It's even more important, too, that as we look for more ways to embrace the future, we remember who we are and who helped us get here.

And where they ate lunch along the way.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com


Loading...