Less than two years after opening one of Red Bank's first fresh seafood outlets, Chattanooga Seafood is shutting down.
Thomas "T.J." Jones, who opened Chattanooga Seafood in early 2022 on the site of the former Sofa King Juicy Burger restaurant, said Friday he will be preparing the final meals for onsite eating Saturday and will stay open only until the restaurant's inventory runs out.
"It has been a pleasure serving you guys, but it is time to turn the page to a new chapter," Jones said in a Facebook post announcing the business shutdown. "We will miss seeing your smiling faces. All inventory will be 5-10% off and our last day will be next week, depending on inventory."
Jones said business slowed this fall "like a light switch went off" and, unlike a year ago, Chattanooga Seafood was unable this year to go to the Chattanooga Market every Sunday to sell its prepared food. Jones said regulators didn't allow for such food sales by Chattanooga Seafood this year without a commercial food license.
"That was a significant loss of revenue for us," he said Friday night during an interview at the seafood eatery near the intersection of Dayton Boulevard and Signal Mountain Road in Red Bank. "Being able to depend on that revenue during our slow period last year really helped."
The store offered a variety of fresh seafood and shellfish, with 10-15 items available at a time, depending on availability and season, including items like oysters, clams, crabs and lobsters.
Jones said he spent more than $15,000 to get the building he leased at 1743 Dayton Blvd. ready. After nearly two years of trying to make the business work, Jones said he plans on returning to his previous job as an industrial robot programmer at Automation Industrial Group.
"It's really sad, and it's been a really tough decision," Jones said.
Jones said he patterned his business after the Seafood Station, a seafood market in the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland, Ohio, which has operated for more than 20 years.
Jones said the Chattanooga Seafood market did well during the summer, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. But he said "it's been like feast or famine" and too volatile to sustain the business.