Shrimp Boats Once Docked in Brainerd

Thursday, January 03, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley
Shrimp Boats was a sponsor of the 1969 East Ridge High School yearbook.
Shrimp Boats was a sponsor of the 1969 East Ridge High School yearbook.

I’ve often heard folks say that Chattanooga is a tough market for restaurants.  Like Dorothy said in “The Wizard of Oz,” “They come and go so quickly here.”  The list of eateries of the past is quite long, though I’m not certain how we compare to other cities in the number of dining-out demises.

A short-lived restaurant that was once a favorite of mine was the Shrimp Boats, located at 5508 Brainerd Road near Spring Creek Road.

  Based on city directory listings, Shrimp Boats docked in Brainerd in 1969 at a time when areas around Eastgate Mall were still being developed for retail businesses. 

Shrimp Boats was a franchise chain of restaurants that emerged in the 1960’s in the southeast.  Richard Mize was the owner and operator of the local Shrimp Boats.  He was interviewed for the August 28, 1969 edition of “Community Shoppers Guide.” Mr. Mize had first dined at a Shrimp Boats when he was working at a retail men’s clothier in Atlanta.  Loving the food, he set sail to acquire a franchise for Hamilton and Walker counties, with plans for four restaurants (only one was built, I believe).

My family often dined at Shrimp Boats when we were in the Brainerd area.  I recall that they had very tasty grilled hamburgers and fried chicken, in addition to their seafood items.  The building was small, with a steep roof and large glass front window.  I think that the interior had a large net and lifesaver rings over the front counter.

The restaurant promoted itself in commercials by playing the song “Shrimp boats is a coming; there’s dancing tonight.”

The 1970 city directory listed this trove of neighboring merchants:

·         Copeland’s Holiday Gulf Service Station at 5506 Brainerd Road

·         Tomlinson’s Restaurant – 5501 Brainerd Road

·         Holiday Inn – 5505 Brainerd Road

The final listing of Shrimp Boats was in the 1973 directory.  Ingress and egress near the busy Brainerd/Spring Creek intersection may have hindered their business.  Also, competition for dining dollars was fierce in the Brainerd area, with new restaurants frequently opening.

On April 16, 1975, groundbreaking occurred for a branch of the Commerce Union Bank on the site where the Shrimp Boats had been anchored.  The new bank opened in December, 1975, which was one month before the main downtown office opened in a new twenty-one story skyscraper.

Whatever happened to the other Shrimp Boats restaurants?  If you do a Web search on “Shrimp Boats, Inc.” you’ll find some sites that describe surviving locations in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area.  A few sites include photos of the buildings, with their familiar steep roofs and Shrimp Boats logos.

If you have memories of Shrimp Boats, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  I’ll update this article with a few of the recollections.


Chattanooga's Blues and Jazz Heritage Program is Monday, August 25

The Chattanooga Area Historical Association and the Local History Department of the Public Library invites all to a talk by Dr. Clark White on "Chattanooga's Blues and Jazz Heritage."  The program will be on Monday, August 25th at 6pm at the downtown Chattanooga Public Library. See the accompanying flyer for more information. CAHA events are free and open to the ... (click for more)

Tunnel Hill Foundation Seeks Volunteers to Help During Re-enactment

The Yankees and the Rebels could use a few more good volunteers. No, they don’t need any more soldiers. But they could definitely use a few more hands to help during the 21 st annual Battle of Tunnel Hill Civil War Re-enactment coming up next month. Tunnel Hill Historical Foundation President Boyd Whitfield says  the foundation would appreciate having more community ... (click for more)

Rhasean Lowry, 34, Charged In Death of 3-Year-Old Girl

Rhasean Lowry, 34, was arrested for abusing a three-year-old girl, and then criminal homicide after she died. Last Tuesday, the Chattanooga Police Department was called on a suspected child abuse case. Lowry took the victim to a local hospital and he stated the victim fell down steps. Doctors advised that the victim’s injuries were the result of blunt force trauma consistent ... (click for more)

City IDB Member Who Made Motion For $9 Million Black Creek TIF Had Not Lived In City For Years

A City Industrial Development Board (IDB) member who made the motion to approve a controversial $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) had not lived in the city for years, City Attorney Wade Hinton confirmed. Chris Ramsey, a BlueCross BlueShield official, was not present at an IDB meeting on Tuesday morning. Five other board members were. Citizen Helen Burns ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)