After Forced Evacuation Caused By Unsanctioned Landscaping By Chain Restaurant, Blocked Reopening By Assistant Director of Development Services, Moving to Another Location and Dropping Sales Due To Covid, The Owners of Shuford’s Still Continue To Work Daily To Keep Their Dream Alive.
Published February 24, 2021
Signal Mountain, TN – On February 23rd, 2019, a shocking mudslide in Signal Mountain flattened a Subway franchise. Thankfully, at the time, the store was closed and no one was injured.
Subway’s owner decided not to rebuild and tried to put the issue to rest after insurance claims were denied, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
Nearby, another restaurant was devastated that day and the corporate sandwich chain may be partially responsible.
In November of 2018, Subway dug into a hill near both locations, without proper permits from the city, in order to remove kudzu covering the property. This unlawful manipulation created vulnerable grounds that could not withstand record-breaking rainfall just a few months later.
A longstanding staple of Signal Mountain, Shuford’s Smokehouse, was forced to evacuate that day and has yet to recover.
The Smokehouse was purchased by Jeff Davis from Shuford Johnson in 1986 and he has since dedicated his life to ensuring the success of such a beloved proprietor.
Shuford’s boasted a wonderful and regular clientele that created a sense of community served alongside the barbecue.
“I’ve been here 33 years and I’ve always felt safe in here,” Davis stated at the time, “This is basically my home, I live here.”
Unfortunately, due to the mudslide and remaining safety issues caused by Subway’s illegal landscaping, the building that was home to the restaurant for decades was deemed unsafe by the city.
Shuford’s complied with orders to protect the public despite any losses they would accrue.
They began serving food curbside, attempting to respect the wishes of the city without giving up hope while they negotiated means to reopen. Restaurant staff was aware of the situation and customers were kept safe.
Curbside service gave the family and the employees they support something to work with; until Channel 9 released a report about the restaurant remaining open.
Shuford’s owners did not consent to the story being released and asked the media outlet not to run it, but this request was denied and the headline caught the attention of the City of Chattanooga Assistant Director of Development Services, Dallas Rucker.
Rucker then visited the restaurant, posted signs of condemnation on the property, and made egregious threats to have their power shut off if they continued to provide curbside service.
Even though city spokesperson Richel Albright reported at the time that the word ‘condemned’ didn’t actually appear in the building code but that it was referring to the building as ‘dangerous,’ and says it cannot be occupied by the ‘general public.’
Owner Madison Davis reported, “That’s when we had to act and find somewhere else to do business. Luckily, the owners of the Southern Restaurant on Dayton Boulevard reached out and let us purchase the property.”
Shuford’s Smokehouse is currently located at 3224 Dayton Blvd, Red Bank, but they report sales dropping by over 50% as a result of the move and COVID-19 restrictions have only made things more difficult.
According to Madison, “All we want is to be back on our own property running our business.”
Over the last two years, a parade of competent engineers have visited the original property and insisted that they could affordably make the restaurant safe again, but Rucker continues to deny them.
Rucker has determined an impossible solution while placing full responsibility on the restaurant. He remains unwilling to permit any work that isn’t provided by a state-licensed geothermal engineer that will cost the family upwards of $500,000 while they continue to lose profit.
Still, the Davis’ work daily to fight for their dream to keep Shuford’s Smokehouse alive and well in Chattanooga.
The Tennessee Conservative reached out to Dallas Rucker’s office for an update or comment, but have yet to receive a response.
Shuford’s Smokehouse Locations:
3224 Dayton Blvd, Red Bank, TN 37415
Phone (423) 267-0080
Store hours: Monday-Friday 10:30am – 9:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:00am – 8:00pm
11320 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379
Phone (423) 451-7102
Store hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am – 8:00pm, Closed Sunday – Monday