Remembering the Hungry Fisherman Restaurant

Sunday, August 17, 2008 - by Harmon Jolley
The Hungry Fisherman was located at 6715 Ringgold Road in East Ridge.  Customers could take home some matches with the logo of their favorite restaurant.  Click to enlarge.
The Hungry Fisherman was located at 6715 Ringgold Road in East Ridge. Customers could take home some matches with the logo of their favorite restaurant. Click to enlarge.

Shoney’s Restaurants have a long association with Chattanooga which dates to the early 1960’s. Founded by Alex Schoenbaum, the restaurant chain is remembered for its locations which were once part of the southeastern U.S. franchise for Big Boy Hamburgers. Statues of Big Boy, with red and white plaid overalls and holding a hamburger plate high, once stood at the entrance of every Shoney’s.

Shoney’s was a sponsor of the Bob Brandy afternoon children’s show on WTVC, and promoted concerts by the Chattanooga Symphony for area school children. I remember that Mr. Schoenbaum himself introduced one of the programs that my school attended at the Memorial Auditorium. It was after the remodeling in the mid-1960’s. I kept thinking that those large suspended acoustical tiles could fall at any minute.

I recently had lunch with a cousin who is district manager for a large restaurant chain in central Kentucky. My cousin commented on the challenges of keeping up with changes in what customers seek in a dine-out experience. In 1974, Shoney’s South sought to keep up with customer tastes by opening in East Ridge the fourth location of a new seafood restaurant chain - the Hungry Fisherman.

The Hungry Fisherman was located in the East Ridge Shopping Center near the I-75/Ringgold Road interchange. The retail center was anchored by the Zayre’s department store. As was common with other Shoney’s developments such as Captain D’s, a Shoney’s restaurant was located near the Hungry Fisherman.

The Chattanooga News-Free Press announced the Hungry Fisherman in an April 29, 1974 article. The restaurant would have a nautical décor with model ships and port holes, and could seat up to 600 people. One reached the steamboat-styled building by walking a gang plank. The building extended over a seven-acre artificial lake that was stocked with catfish. Part of the experience could include feeding the catfish, or taking a ride on a small paddle-wheeler.

Seafood was a bit cheaper in 1974 than today. Prices ranged from $2.25 to $3.50, and some items were all-you-can-eat. Lobsters could be selected from a tank, and were $8.95. Arrhh, mate, are ye not a seafood lover? The Hungry Fisherman also had chicken, steaks, and hamburgers on the menu.

The Hungry Fisherman, like Shoney’s, was popular after church, before dates, and after games. To continue to lure customers, the restaurant underwent an extensive remodeling in 1984. Meanwhile, the Shoney’s corporation underwent restructuring that led to the sale of the remaining Hungry Fisherman locations in the early 1990’s. The East Ridge site became the home of Trip’s Seafood.

The 2008 Chattanooga city directory lists a nursery business at the former 6715 Ringgold Road address of the Hungry Fisherman.

If you have memories of the Hungry Fisherman, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.

The Hungry Fisherman building was shown on the other side of the book of matches.  Click to enlarge.
The Hungry Fisherman building was shown on the other side of the book of matches. Click to enlarge.

Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Lecture is October 29

Historical newspaper records once available only through long hours of research can now be accessed within seconds.   The Tennessee Digitization Project to digitize a series of newspaper records and make them available online is a partnership between the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The first phase of the project concentrates on the ... (click for more)

Civil War Battle of Johnsonville Being Remembered

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Johnsonville. To commemorate the historic event, Johnsonville State Park and Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park will host several events in October and November.   The 150th anniversary kicked off earlier this month with a Civil War quilt show at Johnsonville, which will be on display through December 31 at the park’s ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

Chickamauga Lock To Reopen As Soon As Next Thursday

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District  plans to reopen Chickamauga Lock to all navigation traffic as early as next Thursday. An inspection of the upper gate anchorage and a repair plan were completed today. Chickamauga Lock closed on Monday after a routine inspection revealed a crack in the anchorage of the upper gate. Lt. Col. John Hudson, commander ... (click for more)

A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)