Earl Freudenberg: Remembering All Who Enjoyed The Long Horn Restaurant

  • Friday, February 16, 2024
  • Earl Freudenberg
The Long Horn Restaurant
The Long Horn Restaurant

Owners of the Long Horn Restaurant at 129 N. Market St. have lost their lease and will be closing Feb. 23. The restaurant has a rich history in the Chattanooga community, having opened in 1959; a lot of the who’s who in the city ate there regularly.

Bill Hall Jr., whose family owned and operated the Town and Country Restaurant (across the street) from 1947 until its closing in 2005, said the Town and Country Shopping Center and Long Horn were the dream of his Uncle Hugh Abercrombie and father Bill Hall Sr.

The Long Horn Restaurant on N. Market was the center piece, but other early businesses included Hills Shoes, Bonds Drugs, Dr. Rudy Hoppe’s General Medicine Office, a barber shop, insurance agency and Kay’s Ice Cream on the corner.

For several years, the restaurant and shopping center were host to the annual kudzu ball organized by newspaper writer Bill Casteel. Mr. Casteel started the event in response to the city’s Cotton Ball at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium. The weekend affair attracted hundreds from all over the south and received national attention.

The North Chattanooga eatery was very successful so the owners expanded, opening Long Horns at the top of Signal Mountain, McCallie Avenue down from the University of Chattanooga, 37th and Rossville Boulevard, Dayton Boulevard and W. Euclid Street in Red Bank, on Brainerd Road near the skating rink and in East Ridge. There may have been other locations and this writer was a frequent diner at each of them.

Several were open around the clock, serving breakfast anytime. Customers said the Long Horns had the best Chili Dog in Chattanooga.

While a student at the University of Chattanooga this writer enjoyed a lot of lunches at the McCallie Avenue location. I’d even have breakfast there when opening up WDOD on the weekends.

During the 70’s and 80’s owners began to sell off each individual restaurant and the N. Market Street location was the last to go. It went through different owners, including Bill Dickerson who ran for public office several times.

So many famous people dined at the North Chattanooga eatery. Retired heart doctor Dr. Walter Pucket opened up a lot of mornings on his way to his practice at Erlanger Medical Center. North Chattanooga business owners would gather for coffee and eggs and they included Rod Welchance - Northside Upholstery, Northside Cleaners - Jody Kissinger, Agnew Hardware’s - John Blair, Ed Sherrill with Sherrill Coal, Bess Hackney - Hackney’s dress shop, Mr. Barker - barber shop owner and Dr. Marshall Robinson - pastor of the North Chattanooga Church of God.

It was a favorite place of former Fire and Police Commissioner and Chattanooga Mayor Gene Roberts. The Chattanooga official lived in Hixson and would stop at the Long Horn on his way to City Hall. This writer would often corner him as he was going in to eat and get the scoop on the police news of the day.

The late UTC Chancellor and former Baylor School Headmaster Dr. Bill Stacy stopped by at least once a week for breakfast. It was enjoyable to listen to the educator's stories and talk about his travels around the world.

News Free Press automotive editor Buddy Houts would often stop at the N. Market Street location about 1 p.m. to enjoy a sandwich, fries and hot coffee. Joining him would be car dealers Herb Adcox, John Hicks, Bob McKamey, among others.

Those eating at the N. Market Street location can never forget long time cook “Von” and her cheerful greeting to each customer every day.

It was a favorite hangout of many Chattanooga broadcasters including Jimmy Sampley, Garry Mac and Jeff Styles.

Current owners Charlie and Susan Danner said it’s a very sad day for them because everybody was like family but they have no plans to re-open somewhere else because of the cost involved. Mrs. Danner told talk radio’s Jed Mescon she’ll be looking for a job because the couple still has bills to pay.

Mrs. Danner said the landlords haven’t disclosed their plans for the historic restaurant site.

The North Chattanooga Longhorn joins the growing list of family owned Chattanooga eateries to close in recent years including the Town and Country, Nikki’s, Southern in Red Bank, Woody’s B-B-Q, Country Place, Karl’s and Northside Diner.

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