At the start of the 21st century, Chattanooga’s Main Street and Southside District was a dilapidated remnant of a bygone era. Main Street—a once important thoroughfare stretching from 100-year old steel foundries on the banks of the Tennessee, east toward Missionary Ridge, the site of the 1863 Battle Above the Clouds—had devolved into an unused eyesore. Shops along Main Street stood boarded up and abandoned for the majority of the 90’s. The street suffered from neglect and didn’t reflect its name. Here was yet another example of the urban decay, so pervasive across post-industrial cities who’d witnessed their resource intensive economies mire under the weight of changing economic dynamics, environmental pollution, and urban flight.
Fast forward 15 years, and Chattanooga’s Main Street is the most important artery in a revitalized Southside District that has attracted artists, startups and startup incubators, juice bars, brunch restaurants, chic loft apartments, organic farmer’s markets, breweries, whiskey distilleries, hot chocolate shops, and art galleries. There’s an enormous history of revitalization that we can’t go into here, but one of the most pleasing stories in this tale of renaissance has been the founding of the Flying Squirrel Bar.
The short and sweet is this: In 2009, Dan Rose and Max Poppel traveled 1,000 miles from their home state of Massachusetts to climb the sandstone cathedrals that surround Chattanooga. They never left. Entrepreneurial by nature, they realized that hundreds of climbers from all over country were visiting Chattanooga every month. There wasn’t a community center for these like-minded people—no place to gather after a day of climbing for laughs, good food and drink, and even a bed to get some good shuteye.
By this time, the Southside was becoming the creative hub of Chattanooga, and the climbing duo decided to invest in the neighborhood. In 2011 they broke ground on a new hostel for climbers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting Chattanooga. Aptly, they named it the Crash Pad, and their mission was and remains to provide a basecamp and community hub for adventurous travelers. But there was more to their vision, and they always knew that the hostel would at some point be complemented by a public house for the adventurous to unwind, relax, and replenish.
This vision transformed into a work of art, fitting of the Southside’s resurgence. In 2013, they opened the huge wooden door of the Flying Squirrel Bar, a building of sheer and staggering beauty whose exposed trusses, giant cedar beams, and inviting patio complement a menu with the most elegant and approachable plates in Chattanooga and the freshest, seasonal cocktails. You can’t go wrong with any choice, but a few of our favorites include the Cuban Tacos, the Lobster Risotto, and the Nutella Cheesecake…God, the Nutella Cheesecake.
If your home is your first place, and your work is your second place, the Flying Squirrel strives to be your Third Place—a place where you go to unwind, socialize, and enjoy life. Stop in any night of the week (except Monday), and you’ll see that they’ve succeeded. At the Flying Squirrel, you’re in good company.