#LovingtheLocal with The Chatt Inn

If you need a hotel in Chattanooga, but you prefer to do business with locally owned operations rather than chains, you may want to visit The Chatt Inn. Clean rooms, free wifi, a pool, and reasonable rates make this hotel just right for a quick get-away, or for longer-term business travelers. Located 2000 East 23rd Street, staying at The Chatt Inn makes attending events downtown simple and convenient.

Local resident Jeff McFarlane operates the Chatt Inn and takes great pride is providing outstanding service to visitors. The Inn is pet-friendly, and features rooms with full size refrigerators and microwaves. Give them a call the next time you need a place to stay!

the chatt inn

#LovingtheLocal with Northshore/Realty Center Insurance

When you are looking for insurance it helps to have an agent who will be honest and keep your best interests at the forefront of any conversation, and that is exactly what you will get when you deal with the representatives at Northshore/Realty Center Insurance. Protecting your home, business, and family is a big responsibility and one that Vickie Champion and her staff take seriously. If you are looking for home, commercial, or life insurance get in touch with Vickie and her team at Northshore/Realty Center Insurance.

The NorthShore/Realty Center Team Kim Love, Kathy Butcher, Vickie Champion,  Betty Cooper, Rebecca Carpenter

The NorthShore/Realty Center Team
Kim Love, Kathy Butcher, Vickie Champion, Betty Cooper, Rebecca Carpenter

Lunch at Taco Mamacita

As a buyer’s agent at Pearl & Associates Real Estate, Stevie Corbitt doesn’t have much time for long, relaxing lunches during the busy week. She described her recent experience having lunch at Taco Mamacita on North Market Street for the NoogaLife. 

Sitting on the warm patio of Taco Mamacita is a great way to really soak up the atmosphere of the North Shore, especially during rush hour on a weekday. You can hear the great playlist on in the background of the restaurant, along with the buzz of the city. I got to experience this first-hand on my first lunch trip to Taco Mamacita!

My mother and I decided on this restaurant because neither of us had eaten there before. The staff was very friendly, and although they were busy, our food came out in a timely fashion. We decided to go with a salsa sampler (the red salsa is the best!) and chips. It’s hard not fill up on appetizers, but when my enchilada came out I couldn’t help but dig in. Overall, it was great for lunch, although I did leave extremely full!

gringo enchiliada from taco mamacita


#LovingtheLocal with Natural Affinity Soaps



If you love creamy, good-smelling, natural, hand-crafted soaps you need to visit Natural Affinity Soaps. The shop, physically located at 131 Cherry Street in Dunlap, TN, is owned by Chris and Denisea Mann. Their products are also available online. The couple makes all of their products themselves, using the highest quality ingredients. No matter what scent you like, you’re sure to find it at Natural Affinity. They even make very mild soaps that are safe for those with sensitive skin. In addition to their own products, they carry items made by local artisans.

Denisea says that she especially loves “creating products with pure essential oils because they are so giving.” Whether you choose to browse their products online or take a leisurely drive to visit the shop, give yourself a touch of luxury and enjoy a bar of soap, a bottle of oil, a candle, or another hand-crafted item.



Where Do You Take Guests?

When guests come to visit you in Chattanooga, where do you always take them? Do you hit the hot tourist spots? After all, Rock City is nice, and if you aren’t claustrophobic then Ruby Falls is gorgeous. Of course the Aquarium is a jewel, so that might be on your list. But, if the tourist thing just isn’t your style, or your wallet can’t make it happen, there are still plenty of ways to impress your guests and have fun, too.walnutstreetbridge

The Walnut Street Bridge offers a great starting point for any tour of the city. You can stroll across and point out awesome things to your visitors, from the Hunter Museum to the inevitable stand up paddleboarders you’ll see. It’s a good way to get a feel for what your guests are interested in and balance out some of the great food you’re sure to consume!

First, there are some great restaurants here, so dining shouldn’t be a problem. Whether you and your guests want pizza, or you prefer some farm-to-table fare, or you are seeking a fantastic cocktail, there are options! Chattanooga is home to some good food.

From either end of the bridge, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Keep on walking and enjoy the sculpture garden at the Hunter Museum and the Riverwalk, or browse the shops and galleries scattered across the North Shore. Either way, you’ll encounter sights and places that are unique to Chattanooga.

If your visitors are from a bigger city, you probably won’t be able to impress them with the art/theater/culture scene in Chattanooga. But, the beauty of the natural landscape here cannot be denied. Take a drive up to Signal Point on Signal Mountain, or to Point Park on Lookout Mountain and spend a few minutes enjoying the grandeur and beauty of the Chattanooga Valley in its entirety.

While we might not be able to boast about the number of clubs or other nightlife venues in Chattanooga, there are some fine places to enjoy a viewfrommissionaryridgegood craft beer. In fact, it seems like new places pop up every other week or so. Taking some time to visit local breweries and retailers of local beers could be fun — depending on the tastes of your visitors.

Warner Park and the Chattanooga Zoo are great at any time of year. Coolidge Park, Renaissance Park, and the Riverwalk are nice places to walk, picnic, or just hang out. From Cloudland Canyon just to the south of Chattanooga to Fall Creek Falls north of the city, there are plenty of places to show off the natural splendor of the area.

We asked our Facebook and Twitter communities where they take out of town guests, and here are their answers, ranked in order of popularity:

  1. Walnut Street Bridge
  2. Bluff View/Art District
  3. the Sculpture Garden at the Hunter Museumseerockcityphoto
  4. the Aquarium
  5. Point Park
  6. the Southern Belle
  7. Snooper’s Rock

After those places, several people mentioned local restaurants:

  • Canyon Grill
  • Lupi’s Pizza
  • Hot Chocolatier
  • the Boat House

What did we miss? Where do you take out of town guests?

#LovingtheLocal with Mountain Top Toys


The Holland family — Joanna, Patrick, and their adorable daughters

Whether you have kids or not, chances are you’ll find something to love about Mountain Top Toys. We asked Patrick Holland to share a little about the shop’s history and he sent us this excellent description:

Mountain Top Toys has been serving Signal Mountain and the Chattanooga area since 1992. The only non-franchise specialty toy store in southeast Tennessee, the business most recently came under new ownership when Patrick and Joanna Holland took over in March of 2013.

Previously, Patrick spent 13 years as an entrepreneur and executive at Mindspark Interactive, an Internet company based out of New York. There, he headed up a Creative Department responsible for both marketing and content creation, and a team focused on new product development and testing.  He manages the day-to-day activities of the store and is the primary buyer.

Joanna is employed at Signal Energy in Chattanooga as a Project Manager, and assists at the store on weekends as well as with business finances and taxes. Joanna and Patrick have two daughters, ages 7 and 6.

Under the Hollands, Mountain Top Toys has kept its 22-year-long focus of offering unique, specialty toys and gifts, while making a concerted effort to also seek out new toy lines via resources like Kickstarter. The business is often the first in the area to offer children and their parents early access to new lines created by entrepreneurs around the country.

The store offers free gift wrapping and a birthday bin program that recently went digital allowing parents of birthday party guests and out of town relatives to browse “wish list” items selected by the birthday boy or girl. This can be at the customer’s leisure via smartphone, tablet or computer without having to be in the store.

Mountain Top Toys also recently introduced online shopping via a third party partnership that allows inventory to be sold and shipped without ever having to enter the store. “It’s a great way to support your local toy store, even when you need to ship something across the country,” says Patrick. “And we like it because there is no risk of us having to pull inventory away from our loyal local base for out-of-the-area online orders.”

As part of a supportive and family-focused community, the store makes it a priority to give back to local and area schools and charities. For more information on these programs, visit their website’s About page.

Mountain Top Toys participates in the annual Holiday Ho Ho Expo at the Chattanooga Convention Center each November, and is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm at their 1231 Taft Highway location in Signal Mountain.

If you need a special gift for a special kid, or you just love toys, take the time to drive up Signal Mountain and browse the selection at Mountain Top Toys. You’ll probably leave with a cool, new toy!

Eating at Elemental


This post was written by Dava Stewart and Laura Howard, who are friends, long-time Chattanooga residents, and fans of delicious food. They visited Elemental on Tuesday, July 8.

Sometimes things become trendy because they are good. One of those things is the locavore, or farm to table movement. If you’ve never eaten a Elemental Salad strawberry, still warm from the sun, while standing outside, you’ve missed a miracle. The fresher the food, the better, we say! Elemental, on the North Shore is a restaurant that provides the freshest food possible by working with local suppliers.

Three of us–Dava, Laura, and Laura’s husband Carey–had dinner there on a Tuesday night, not too long ago. It was a belated birthday dinner celebration for Laura. Eating at Elemental is, for us, a special treat rather than a regular Tuesday night dinner. It’s a little pricier than many other options. Laura’s birthday seemed like a good reason for a special treat!

We started with drinks—Sparkling Lemonade (an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version) and a Moscow Mule, both from their nicely equipped bar. Not only do they have numerous cocktail, wine, and beer selections, but the local flavor is also a feature of their drinks, including Pure Sodaworks, Chattanooga Brewing Company, and Chattanooga Whiskey.

Next, we ordered a salad to share–grilled watermelon, beet, brussel leaves, fresh mint, and housemade ricotta. We all three shared the salad, and it was delicious. Grilled watermelon is unusual, but very tasty — and went well with the sparkling lemonade. It was the perfect salad to complement the hot, humid summer.

For our entrees, Carey had the burger with homemade pickles, a slice of local tomato, and a side of roasted red potatoes. He ate it all and made “mmmymmgoood” sounds while he ate, so we assume it was a delicious burger. Laura had a dish she has eaten often here–the seared chicken breast with a myriad of in-season, local vegetables. It was a substantial portion of food that she tried to share with Dava and Carey, who were both enjoying their own meals too much to take her up on the offer.

Finally, Dava ordered the Farmers’ Market Vegetable Plate.There was a delicious grit and cheese fritter, mashed celery root, creamed corn, creamed sweet potato, spicy greens, and grilled squash. The presentation was beautiful, but paled compared to the taste!  Laura and Carey always joke that when they need to veggie-load, they go to Elemental for the vegetable plate. After eating it all, Dava decided the only veggie plate that is better is one with food from her own garden.

We skipped dessert this particular evening — mostly because we were all absolutely stuffed.

It is perplexing why Elemental has struggled to find it footing in Chattanooga. It’s in a fantastic location — Laura and Carey walked to Whole Foods to do their grocery shopping after dinner — and the atmosphere is comfortable. People who love great local food and a casual atmosphere should give it a try. Eating at Elemental supports the Chattanooga economy and the local food shed, but most importantly, they serve excellent food.


#LovingtheLocal with the UNFoundation

Have you ever felt like you want to help Chattanooga be better but just had no idea how to go about it? Would you like to volunteer but can’t because your schedule is simply too full of work and family unfoundation logocommitments? Do you wish you could afford to fund awesome projects so they have a real chance to succeed?

  • The UNFoundation is made up of people like you — people who want to give back somehow, but aren’t in a position to donate thousands of dollars. They have harnessed their collective giving power and taken steps to bring about real change. Here’s how it works:
  • The UNFoundation is made up of trustees, who each pledge to donate $100 per month. There is no limit to the number of trustees.
  • People apply for grants of up to $2,000 to complete projects. There are few restrictions on who can apply. The general guideline is “anything that will make Chattanooga better.” Obviously, if you apply for a grant to purchase yourself a new item for personal use, you will be denied.
  • The trustees review the applications, and meet once a month to decide which projects get funded.

That’s it. It’s simple, there is very little red tape, and anyone who has a $100 to donate and time to review applications and attend one meeting each month can become a trustee. A few of the projects that have been funded in the past include:

  • The Chattanooga Film Festival
  • Yoyo Ma Concert Scholarships
  • PicNooga
  • Hill City Gardens
  • Summer Camp Scholarships
  • McCallie Murals

Chattanooga is a great place to live for lots of reasons, but the biggest reason is that groups like the UNFoundation exist. Residents here are dedicated to making Chattanooga better.

A typical UNFoundation board meeting.

A typical UNFoundation board meeting.

#LovingtheLocal with Alan Neal & Associates


Alan Neal is a professional and good at what he does. He also courteous, punctual, and detail-oriented — all the qualities you want in a CPA. Alan is the owner of Alan Neal & Associates, a financial Business Chartsadvisory, accounting, and tax firm located in Chattanooga. The firm specializes in helping businesses examine how their operating systems impact cash flow.

Small business owners can feel overwhelmed with all the details involved in running a business. Alan and his team can help. They provide a personalized, tailored approach designed specifically for each client’s situation. From policies and procedures to systems and bookkeeping, Alan’s team helps businesses succeed. If you are looking for financial advice, accounting, or tax services, give Alan a call. He’ll be happy to help!

Neighborhood Spotlight: Ashwood Subdivision

Chattanooga is filled with different types of communities: you can live in an urban environment, out in the country, or somewhere in between. Over the next few months thenoogalife.com is going to spotlight a few of the places ‘Noogans live, and what makes them special.

The community of Ashwood is one of those “in between” places. The ‘burbs have gotten some bad press lately, but in Chattanooga, living in the suburbs doesn’t mean you have an hours’ long commute or that you have less access to grocery stores and pharmacies. In fact, in Ashwood, the opposite is true. Located just off Shallowford Road, there are lots of shopping and dining options nearby, but the neighborhood is still quiet and family-oriented. It takes just minutes to get to Hamilton Place Mall and the surrounding businesses, yet most homes are equipped with inviting yards for dogs and children. Travel is easy too because I-75 is close enough to be convenient, but far enough away that there is no road noise.

Enterprise Park, with miles of walking trails, is minutes away, as is Heritage Park where dogs are welcome. Life in the Ashwood community has much to offer! If being near downtown, having a lawn, being able to get to both shopping and parks easily appeals to you, then a neighborhood like Ashwood may be what you are looking for. The homes are beautiful, too. Take a look at this one, located at 7619 Asherton Drive, which is currently for sale:

Asherton postcard

#LovingtheLocal with #RunChattanooga

This week we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Bird, who is at the center of an enthusiastic group of people interested in running, #RunChattanooga. It’s free, it looks like a LOT of fun, and it’s guaranteed to get you moving. Courtney is the executive director of the group and she is serious about inclusiveness and camaraderie. If you are looking for a way to get fit, have fun, and make some new friends — without touching your bank account — keep reading!

The current #RunChattanooga schedule looks like this:run chattanooga group

Monday group run at 5:45pm
Tough Love on Tuesday and Thursday mornings 6:30am
Speed work at the Red Bank High School track on Thursday nights at 8pm (this time will change when the seasons change)
And a Saturday morning group run that we do with the crew at Front Runner Athletics at 7:30am
To find out more about whens and wheres, Courtney encourages everyone to get on the #RunChattanooga email list, and to follow on either Facebook or Twitter: 
Email: http://runchattanooga.org/join-the-club/
If you choose to get involved you can expect encouragement, laughter, and to sweat! Everyone, regardless of level, is invited to join. All workouts can be tailored to fit anyone, so even if you haven’t run since elementary school, you’ll be able to keep up. Several members even bring their kids — who love it! The Tough Love workouts are 30 minute, high intensity workouts that involve pushups, crunches, and always some stair climbing, because, Courtney says, “Climbing stairs is good for your butt!”
Tough - but  fun - love

Tough – but fun – love

Partner work is part of many #RunChattanooga workouts

Partner work is part of many #RunChattanooga workouts

When your workout feels like playing games, it's better!

When your workout feels like playing games, it’s better!




Chattanooga Teams


At&T Field

View from the stands at AT&T Field. 

Last week, we talked about where you can go to play sports in Chattanooga. This week: it’s all about where you can go to watch sports. Chattanooga may not be a big city, but there are plenty of teams to cheer for!

First, there are the most well-known teams. Right now it is baseball season, so you can see the Lookouts at AT&T Field, which is a fine way to spend an afternoon.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has the Mocs, who you can see play football at Finley Stadium, or basketball at the MacKenzie Arena. The Lady Mocs are also an amazing team.

Less well known, but equally worth your time, is the Chattanooga Football Club – the CFC. On July 12, became the Southeast Conference champions for the fourth time. They are an exciting, winning team! You can catch the south region playoffs this weekend. It’s Chattanooga FC versus Miami FC Friday, July 18, at 6pm. Tickets are only $10 at the gate.  Get out, have some fun, and support your hometown team.

For something a little different, but lots of fun, go see the Chattanooga Roller Girls. These girls are tough — and they play hard. Home bouts are at the downtown Convention and Trade Center and are exciting!

No matter the time of year, there are teams to watch in Chattanooga — collegiate, semi-professional, and professional athletes representing our city well!