Jerry Summers: 4 famous beer bars in our area


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Selecting just four of the many establishments that entertained the drink and party element within a 50 mile radius of Chattanooga before the first legalization of alcohol by drink would make them subjective choices among many possibilities.

Paul F. Gray Jr. obtained the first alcohol by beverage license for a food service establishment in Chattanooga on January 1, 1973, when they authorized beverages in a place that served food that was a high percentage of their volume. business. It was at PJ’s Supper Club on Lee Highway.

However, four of them stand out as the most important (or infamous) sites due to some unique characteristics.

The last stronghold of male independence is said to be “Penney’s Place” in the north of Soddy Daisy in Dayton Pike, which was uniquely recognized by the painted “Men Only” signs on each window (now removed) which claimed to have “the beer the most.” cooler in town. “ (Customers of the now non-existent “Leonard’s” just through the Brainerd Tunnel would question this claim.)

Googling Penney’s Place under Reviews reveals a wide range of opinions about the political philosophy of the establishment.

Another famous watering hole would be the “Wagon Wheel” on Signal Mountain Boulevard which was a place of “beer, blood and guts” frequented by often law-abiding citizens who carried the reputation that “you had to bring. two guns with you when you entered the front door if you wanted to feel safe. It was a frequent site of shootings, cuts, and homicides that often produced cases on Chattanooga and Hamilton County criminal court records. He also had a reputation as a “cold beer” and the ability to secretly purchase half a pint of bonded whiskey.

Heading up the Sequatchie Valley on Suck Creek Mountain, one comes to a concrete foundation which is all that is left of another beer bar known as the “Cascades” which was often frequented by swollen Ford drivers. with Cadillac engines carrying glass or plastic 1 gallon jugs or 5 gallon Grapette soda cans filled with alcoholic beverages that produced no tax revenue for the state of Tennessee or the federal government.

If any of the carriers had to babysit their young children or use them as an excuse to get out of the house, the facility’s basement provided cots to put the youngsters to sleep while their fathers frolicked upstairs. . Sounds of gunfire were sometimes mistaken for fireworks on holidays other than July 4.

The most upscale premise of the four historic locations named in this article would be ‘Fountains’ on the Old Birmingham Freeway (US11) outside of the Tiftonia-Wauhatchie area of ​​Hamilton County, which offered live entertainment. and the possibility for members of the opposite sex to meet. , get together and possibly consider attending the church of their choice at a later date. For the non-Baptists in the crowd, a practice known as “brown sacking” was allowed and you could bring your own legal bottle and purchase a blender to go with your drink of choice. Fontaines would also be referred to as “honky-tonk” as it also offered live music by a band for dancing. Rumors exist that clients often include members of the Chattanooga high society.

The 1989 film “Roadhouse”, starring Patrick Swayze, Sam Elliott and Ben Gazarra, portrayed a dance and drinking environment similar to that of Fountains, but the local truck stop was less dangerous for customers.

Most younger people won’t recognize the names or descriptive phrases of these “Fab Four” places, but Grandpa or Grandma might be able to laugh and confirm as “rumors” what they are. have heard about some or all of the joints) from an earlier era!

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Jerry summers

(If you have additional information on any of Mr. Summers’ articles or have any suggestions or ideas on a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at [email protected])

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