Nathan Flynt stands on the second story of his ￼￼￼￼￼￼new restaurant, 2 Sons Kitchen and Market [ℹ️ City Guide], and recalls the road that led him here. It’s a circuitous path, one with several stops along the way, but giving him the time he needed to make mistakes, learn from them, and absorb all the knowledge and life lessons required to become a successful restaurateur, this time as the owner of a brick-and-mortar business.
Flynt graduated from Art Institute of Atlanta with a degree in the culinary arts, then spent 10 years working for some of the most-talented chefs in the industry. Locally, he’s worked at Hennen’s, The Blue Plate and finally at Public House as its opening chef before taking the wheels of a food truck he named Famous Nater’s World Famous Food Truck.
“I gained culinary experience at restaurants up and down the East coast, but I didn’t have much of a clue about the business side of the restaurant business,” he says. “Having a food truck was an opportunity to learn about it with a lot less risk than having an actual restaurant. I made a ton of mistakes, but I learned from them.”
2 Sons Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch only; the reason behind it a simple one:
“This industry has something for everyone,” he says. “You can make it what you want.”
Flynt’s focus is freshness and familiarity—with a twist.
“We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel here,” he says. “If you order yogurt, know that it’s fermented here. If it’s biscuits you want, they’re made here. We’re a very handmade establishment.”
Seven years in the food-truck business allowed him a chance to get to know what people want—get feedback, learn their likes, their dislikes. In one sentence … What makes Chattanoogans’ mouths water?
The menu at 2 Sons mirrors the answer.
“I’ve kept heavy hitters from the food truck,” he says. “Like our Turkey Katherine. I roast the turkey here. I make the mayonnaise and ketchup that goes in the 1000 Island dressing that goes on it. I make the coleslaw. It’s a very in-house-produced sandwich.”
Ditto the Junior League sandwich with roasted turkey, housemade red pepper jelly and cream cheese.
“It’s a recognizable Southern thing that gives us the kind of comfort food we’re trying to pursue.”
So he kept some of the old favorites, and has added new items, too. One thing his food truck
could not offer was fried chicken.
“We couldn’t have a fryer on the truck,” he explains.
Now he’s frying chicken morning through afternoon, serving it on biscuits at breakfast and sandwiches at lunch. Fried chicken plates, too. Not just any fried chicken this, however.
“We brine it for 24 hours,” he says. “Then we top it with hot sauce that’s fermented for 14 days.”
Mixing the hot sauce with a little honey helps calm the heat factor. But a cold beer does, too. The brands of beer served at 2 Sons will rotate on a frequent basis, some local, some craft.
Flynt keeps things simple by offering semi-table service—order at the counter, take a seat and food is brought to you by service personnel.
Flynt, 39, married and the father of two sons, opened his restaurant on M.L. King Boulevard, an area of town he believes is ripe for future development.
“Opportunity for growth around here is enormous,” he says. “It’s really going to be interesting to see what this area is going to be like in one year; in five years.”
The building housing 2 Sons has worn many hats in the nearly 80 years its occupied space in the 400 block of M.L. King Boulevard. It’s been a nightclub, a bar, a convenience store and a barber shop.
“If these walls could talk, I’m sure we’d hear some really interesting stories,” Flynt says, pointing to the handsome brick walls, exposed after workers labored for weeks removing plaster, stained from its many past lives.
“It’s a neat old building,” he adds. “It’s got character. They built things differently back then. It’s so well built, which is amazing since they didn’t have the tools and technology in the 1940s that we have today.”
The original wood floor has been sanded and refinished. The bowstring trusses that were originally used to support the barrel roof have been saved and left exposed.
“You just can’t go out and buy stuff like this anymore,” Flynt says.
Not wanting any building blocks to go to waste, brick that was torn from the building to make way for windows has been repurposed to floor the outside patio. And, diners are now sitting at tables made from wood that was removed during renovation.
“It gives us a way to remember where this building came from,” Flynt says. “It has such a cool history.”
Photography by Beth Kirby