Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Over There is a little off the beaten path in North Chattanooga, so much so that you could easily miss it.
Yet at 388 Somerville Ave., just off Cherokee Boulevard, you’ll discover a 6,000-square-foot restaurant and more than 60 free parking spaces.
The restaurant was once a warehouse for owner John Meeks’ trucking company. When the trucking industry took a hit in 2008, the former Chattanooga cop closed his trucking business. In mid-November he and his son John Nik Meeks opened Over There.
They built the bar and tables themselves from reclaimed cedar, said John Meeks.
The restaurant features daily specials such as fresh veggies, fried catfish, fish tacos and tomato pie.
“We make everything here,” he said.
The bar has 23 beers on tap, including craft and local beers as well as domestics.
“We tried to do a lot of local options,” John Meeks said.
Head chef Patrick Smith previously worked at a local country club. His favorite dish is the catfish.
“You definitely get your money’s worth,” he said. “We have the best catfish around.”
John Meeks said the restaurant always buys the best-quality meats available, from the filet to the rib-eye to the prime rib special. Over There’s shrimp are absolutely huge, and the oysters come all the way from Washington state, he added.
The most popular items include the catfish, shrimp, half-pound ground chuck hamburgers, spicy black bean veggie burgers, fried pickles and onion rings.
“We feel like we offer things most people don’t have,” such as the restaurant’s ample free parking, said John Meeks.
They also don’t crowd people in. The 6-foot booths are spread out and accessible from both sides. The main dining room is very open and seats 200, while a private dining area accommodates 25.
The staff is is very proud of the restaurant’s high scores on its health department evaluations — a perfect 100 for the bar and 97 for the restaurant.
“We want you to be happy before you leave and we’ll do what it takes to make you happy,” said John Meeks.
He said the restaurant sells more food than beer and they keep people coming back with good quality food at reasonable prices.
“We try to buy all the local products we can get,” said John Meeks, adding that most of the restaurant’s produce comes from P & P Produce. “We try to use the best product we can find for that particular item.”
He said his goal is to make the restaurant’s atmosphere as close to the customer’s home as possible.
John Meeks said his own home in North Chattanooga is a walkable distance from the restaurant.