When 212 Market Restaurant opened its doors at 212 Market St. in downtown Chattanooga in February 1992, the opening of the Tennessee Aquarium was still several months away, and the surrounding blocks were mostly deserted, with none of other restaurants, hotels, retail shops, and offices that fill the area today.
Naysayers warned owners Sally, Susan, and Maggie Moses that Chattanoogans would never venture into downtown Chattanooga after dark and that the adventurous menu featuring produce from local farms was much too fancy for a steak and potatoes kind of town. On the first day, however, crowds waited in long lines to get in; and a quarter of a century later, the restaurant will celebrate its 25th anniversary on 2/12/17.
“We thought that Chattanooga was such a cool place, and we opened the restaurant with the simple belief that if we served local food, prepared well, in a creative way, that people would come,” says 212 Market Owner/Manager Sally Moses. “We just thought that was a given.”
212 Market Chef/Owner Susan Moses added, “We are really proud to have been a leader in investing in downtown Chattanooga, as well as in buying from local suppliers, recycling, and other sustainable practices, which we have followed since we opened 25 years ago.”
Over the years, 212 Market has employed hundreds of Chattanoogans, has supported numerous charities, and has celebrated life events with three generations of Chattanooga families. In 2007, 212 Market became the first certified green restaurant in Tennessee and is currently certified by both the Tennessee Green Hospitality Association and the green|light program sponsored by green|spaces.
212 Market, widely recognized as a pioneer of the local food and conservation movements, was named Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Tennessee by Travel + Leisure in 2016. Other notable awards include the 2014 Roosevelt-Ashe Outstanding Business Award for achievements in conservation; induction into the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame in 2015; and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, which 212 Market has won every year beginning in 1998.
“Downtown Chattanooga is what it is today because people in our community took bold risks, and 212 Market was a bold move that everyone has thoroughly enjoyed over the last 25 years,” states Kim White, President and CEO of River City Company. “The Moses family were true pioneers in the food scene in Chattanooga, and our city, specifically our downtown, is a better and certainly tastier destination because of their vision, commitment and investment.”
In recognition of 212 Market’s contributions to the city over the past 25 years, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has proclaimed Feb. 12, 2017 as “212 Market Day.”