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State of Confusion hits Chattanooga's Southside

This article was originally published on timesfreepress.com.

Fletcher Thompson says the new State of Confusion restaurant and bar sits "in the bullseye" of downtown Chattanooga's sizzling Southside.

Located at East Main and Passenger streets, the 277-seat eatery that officially opens Monday will add to the crush of development the neighborhood is seeing, said Thompson, who's general manager of State of Confusion.

"I don't think it's close to being done," he added. "It's exciting to be part of it."

The restaurant is situated in a former salvage yard that was called Estate of Confusion. The eatery, which had Cogent Studio as its architect, retains some of the yard's elements, which its operators say make the location unusual, such as large metal artwork and a water wall.

Allen Corey, chief executive officer of owner and operator Square One Holdings, cited the plentiful amount of outside seating at the restaurant.

"Outside seating is a big part of why we selected the real estate," he said. "This will be the best hang-out place in Chattanooga. That's what we hope to achieve."

While the Southside's growth has led to parking challenges, Thompson said the restaurant has 55 spaces nearby off East Main.

"With growth on Main, traffic has become stressed," he said. "I hope the city comes up with a solution."

More than 310 new apartments are slated to come on line soon within a block or two of the restaurant.

Birmingham company LIV Development is building a $45 million, 283-unit apartment complex behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Also, Chattanooga developer John Wise is putting up 33 new units nearby on East Main.

Those are in addition to four other Southside apartment projects with hundreds of more units having recently opened or slated to do so within months.

State of Confusion, which has an $2.5 million investment, is Square One Holding's second foray into the Southside. The Chattanooga-based business formed by onetime Craftworks managers opened Stir at the Choo Choo about three years ago. 

One of the first step's in creating the company's new venture was sending a team to Peru in South America on a 10-day research trip checking out foods which they've worked into the menu.

Central among those is ceviche, which is a way of cooking fish, said restaurant Executive Chef Bill Heckler.

"They have the best ceviche you can get in the world," he said.

Thompson, who's also a Square One partner, said State of Confusion's ceviche is how the restaurant will "gauge and measure ourselves."

Other foods on its menu will offer a heavy Peruvian influence, including a corn that's served as a bar snack, he said.

In addition, the team that traveled to South America brought back an Argentine open wood fire grill-style of cooking that creates a lot of flavor, Thompson said.

"We've got two of them," he said.

There's also a New Orleans-style bent to the menu, Thompson said about the restaurant that will employ about 100 full- and part-timers.

At the front of the eatery, a smaller building will offer "grab and go" sandwiches, salads and other items along with a bar, he said.

In addition to lunch and dinner, plans are to offer a brunch on Saturday and Sunday, Thompson said.