With a grand opening just last week, the latest restaurant to Riverfront Parkway, Parkway Pourhouse, brings added life to a new residential space where there is plenty of activity developing.
In spite of the connotation a trip to the poor house once rendered, a visit to Parkway Pourhouse will put you in your happy place. “It was an old paint store, not very attractive,” says restaurateur and owner George Lewallen. “Our architects produced an awesome design that flows well with the area. The goal was to give the neighborhood an amenity, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that. It’s a great example of refurbishing an old building.”
The building has gone from a structure with little eye-appeal to one that draws on its natural surroundings, as well as the most up-to-date trends of modern architecture. The restaurant also offers speedy WiFi and, being a sports enthusiast, Lewallen has made sure there’s a TV for every game.
The design itself brings the outside in. Expansive windows across the front, as well as garage-style doors—open when the weather is right—bring in lots of natural light. The vaulted ceilings give height to the dining area and feature exposed trusses. There is an intimate lounge area with its own small patio on the front of the restaurant. Along its side is a huge patio—1,200 square feet. Bring your pup; dogs are allowed out there. The restaurant has a nice, free-form flow to it, with a large, rectangular-shaped bar in its center. Walls are composed of reclaimed barn wood, hand-hewn timbers and metal.
“It’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s what was intended,” Lewallen says. “It’s a neighborhood bar, and it has that feel to it.”
Lewallen, a veteran of the popular North Chattanooga bar, ℹ️ Tremont Tavern, had no intention of leaving the tavern. He’d been there for 10 years and was the general manager for the last four. It had become a comfortable position for him, but the idea of owning his own restaurant had always been in the back of his mind. While in college at ℹ️ The University of the South, he’d worked in the most-popular restaurant in town—Shenanigans.
“That’s where my love affair with the restaurant business was born,” he says. After his time in Sewanee, he came off Monteagle Mountain to Chattanooga and was soon slinging beers and burgers at Tremont. The restaurant business, he says, “is my passion.”
So when developers, ℹ️ Evergreen Real Estate, of the Riverfront Parkway area approached him with the suggestion of opening a restaurant—he’d shared a Sewanee basketball connection with one of the partners—it came at the right time.
“I had no intention of leaving Tremont,” he says, standing in front of his restaurant and looking around at the neighborhood surrounding him. “But when all this is said and done, there will be 2,500 residents living around here, plus all the businesses—all within 500 yards of my front door —it’s a home run.”
So he approached Dustin Choate, owner of Tremont Tavern and ℹ️ FEED Co. Table & Tavern; and Miguel Morales, Choate’s partner at FEED and owner of 1885 Grill, with the idea. “I’m excited after all these years to have George as a partner,” Choate says. “He’s worked tirelessly and upheld the high standards we set back in the early days of Tremont Tavern. I have no doubt he’ll excel as an owner/operator.”
“All the help they’ve given me through the years, it just seemed like a natural progression for all of us to come together and keep the (Tremont Tavern) brand alive,” says Lewallen, who is the majority partner in this new venture.
Bringing the Tremont Tavern brand to the Parkway Pourhouse includes featuring the Tavern Burger—by many considered the best burger in Chattanooga—on the menu alongside other sandwiches, appetizers, entrees and salads. Lewallen adds, “We tried a lot of stuff in the 10 years I was at Tremont and learned what works and what doesn’t. We’ll try to continue that here at Parkway and push the envelope even further.”
The menu, with its assortment of Po ‘Boys,—fried shrimp, fried catfish and other favorites— embraces Lewallen’s love affair with the city of New Orleans. There’s also a different Po’ Boy featured each month, as well as etoufee, and gumbo.
“New Orleans, with its food, music and culture, is like no other place I’ve ever been,” Lewallen adds. “This is not a New Orleans specific restaurant, but there is heavy inspiration here. We want to share with the people of the Scenic City what the Crescent City has to offer. And we’re confident they will be pleasantly surprised.”