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.

John Shearer: Happy 100th Birthday To A Riverview Landmark And Old Friend

This Friday marks the 100th birthday of the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club’s clubhouse, a Riverview building that for years has dominated the landscape because of both its commanding location and its Tudor architecture.   Although the structure had a significant facelift and a wing added about 25 years ago to better meet the membership needs, it still mostly resembles ... (click for more)

Remembering the Tennessee Red Cedar and Novelty Company

Cedar chests were once popular graduation or wedding gifts, and have been handed down through generations.    The oils in the cedar wood were said to repel moths, though some scientists say that this is overrated.    However, if the claims are true, then there once must have been very few moths flying around East Fourteenth Street where the Tennessee Red ... (click for more)

Pedestrian Struck And Dragged An Estimated 4 Blocks Early Friday Morning Was Levi S. Youster, 22

Early Friday morning the Chattanooga Police Department responded to reports of a pedestrian struck near 400 Cherry Street.   Once on scene, officers found Levi S. Youster, 22,  suffering from serious injuries caused by being dragged by the vehicle an estimated four blocks.   He was transported to a local hospital and is expected to live. Investigators ... (click for more)

Flash Flood Warning Issued For Hamilton County; Cancellations And Road Closings Announced

A flash flood warning has been issued for Hamilton County for Thursday afternoon. It was reported t ramp from I-24 West to Cummings Highway was closed, due to flooding. The Chattanooga Fire Department reported  roads were underwater at 3rd and Roanoke. UTC softball’s Thursday doubleheader with non-conference foe UAB at Frost Stadium has been cancelled due to the ... (click for more)

Proud Of Hometown Boy Turned Global Leader, Bob Corker

Time Magazine has it right.  Not only is Chattanooga’s own U.S. Senator Bob Corker one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” but he is probably now the most prominent leader in the history of our city.   At a time of extreme frustration with Washington and Congress in general, Bob continues to rise above the division and rancor to build consensus and solve ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Celebrate Autism’s Victories

As I was getting my salad during lunch at the sixth annual Chattanooga Autism Conference on Friday, a simple question from a friendly kid on the other side of the buffet gave me the answer I was seeking. “Do you have Asperger’s (syndrome),” he asked in a friendly way. I told him no, but that a growing number of folks I admire did, and that’s why I joined a turn-away crowd of ... (click for more)