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.

Help Needed In Identifying Goodman Family Photo

I am currently researching a set of glass plate negatives taken over 100 years ago in and around Chattanooga. Many photos have been identified, yet many remain unknown in location and subjects. Several photos were taken within walking distance of the likely photographer’s home on Payne Street (now Battery Place). This included the 700 block of East 4th Street. At 710 ... (click for more)

Tennessee Historical Commission Awards Grants to Preserve Historic Sites

The Tennessee Historical Commission has awarded 31 grants from the federal Historic Preservation Fund to community and civic organizations for projects that support the preservation of historic and archaeological resources. “Tennessee’s treasured historic places make our state unique and contribute to our quality of life,” said Patrick McIntyre, state historic preservation officer ... (click for more)

$30 Million Development Planned At King And South Market; Will Include Hotel, Condos, Offices, Retail, Possible Restaurant

A new $30 million development is planned for the Southside at King Street and South Market. Nick Wilkinson, city deputy director for economic development, said it will include a hotel, condos, offices, retail and possibly a restaurant. It could also include some light industry. A storage building and a parking lot are now at the site. He said the developers plan to reuse ... (click for more)

Investor In Scheme Says Dyer Made Contacts At Quarterback Club

One of the investors who was a loser in an investment scheme recently halted by the Securities and Exchange Commission said one of the Chattanooga brokers involved made many of his contacts through the Chattanooga Quarterback Club. Paul Smith, former Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman, said Doug Dyer has been the president for many years of the club that promotes UTC and ... (click for more)

Expand Broadband Internet, Not The Size Of Government

I’d like to respond to two letters in your July 13 edition that praised Rep. Mike Carter’s efforts to expand statewide broadband access. Rep. Carter wants more government involvement in the broadband sector, including an expansion of taxpayer-funded, municipal broadband networks.  Rep. Carter’s supporters argued he’s standing up for consumers against huge telecommunications ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Horses Vs. DesJarlais

It is well-known that shortly after the despicable “Big Lick” faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry put on a very-pointed fundraiser for the equally repugnant Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) two years ago, the misguided doctor has repeatedly tried to bully and strong-arm the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the behalf of the vermin who sadistically torture the ... (click for more)