Created by God. Enhanced by Man.
See Rock City” is an enduring call that has attracted guests to world famous Rock City Gardens for generations. See Rock City, Inc. (SRC, Inc.) is the hospitality and entertainment company of which Rock City Gardens is a part. Through a history of innovative marketing, a legacy of community investment and a commitment to excellent guest service, SRC, Inc. is a sustaining and energetic company that serves half a million guests, employs hundreds of partners (employees) and supports multiple art, community and not-for-profit organizations in the region.
SRC, Inc.’s flagship property is Rock City Gardens. This iconic scenic outdoor tourist attraction, listed in 2014 on the National Register of Historic Places, was established in 1932 by Garnet and Frieda Carter, and has grown under a continuous line of family leadership, including current owner and operator William E. “Bill” Chapin, the great-nephew of the Carters.
Rock City is an enchanted three-quarter mile walking trail showcasing soaring rock formations, caves and lush woodland gardens. Multiple dining options are available, including Café 7, Big Rock Grill and Cliff Terrace. The newest experience, Café 7, features Southern cuisine with a modern twist, with outdoor full-service seating at Lover’s Leap. With a full wine and beer list and southern-style sweet tea, there is something refreshing to accompany a delicious plate of shrimp and grits with Sweetwater Valley cheese and Benton’s bacon or a juicy burger nestled in a toasty Neidlov’s bun.
“Rock City Gardens has been a steward of its natural wonders for more than 85 years,” notes SRC, Inc. Chairman and CEO Bill Chapin, “and employs local craftsmen, chefs, actors, gardeners and artisans to provide further delight to the hundreds of thousands of guests who visit us each year. This mountaintop experience is developed sensitively with great care to preserve natural wonders, to provide access into a strange and unusual environment, and to furnish top-notch services to the visiting public.”
Over the years, the gardens Frieda so lovingly planted have grown to include the popular Fairyland Caverns, Mother Goose Village and the Cornerstone Station. Seasonal events provide year-round entertainment and family fun, from Shamrock City and Fairytale Nights, to Summer Music Weekends and Rocktoberfest. Closing out the year, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights has become the city’s premier holiday extravaganza welcoming tens of thousands of local and regional guests.
Building on the Vision
Under Bill Chapin’s leadership, SRC, Inc. has grown into the vibrant and diverse hospitality company it is today. While Rock City Gardens is the first and premier property, the company has expanded through the years, carrying the vision of innovation and guest service to each new venture.
Next door to Rock City, sharing some of the same breathtaking views of the Chattanooga Valley, is the historic Grandview. This beautiful event space offers a scenic venue for business meetings and retreats, weddings, showers and rehearsal dinners unlike any in the region.
Another of the attractions is Starbucks on Lookout Mountain, situated in the old fire station which was also designed by Frieda Carter. With gracious hospitality and Starbucks quality, this quaint corner has quickly become a gathering place for the Lookout Mountain community.
Across the mountain, located next to Point Park, is the newly renovated Battles for Chattanooga. The beloved, historic map is now the base for a cutting-edge digital show that uses projection map technology alongside state-of-the-art surround sound to bring the historic battles of the area to life. The museum inside the location features relics and memorabilia from the Civil War, along with maps and notes of interest to further illustrate the humanity of the battles. Next door to Battles for Chattanooga is a seasonal Clumpies Ice Cream shop. Handcrafting ice cream in Chattanooga since 1999, Clumpies became part of the SRC, Inc. family in 2013. The high quality, award-winning, micro-batch ice cream features tasty flavor combinations ranging from classic sweet cream to juicy blueberry sorbet with thyme along with homemade waffle cones. Clumpies is also popular with its seasonal variety of treats at its other locations in St. Elmo and on Frazier Avenue as well as being featured at several area restaurants.
“All of the attractions and properties we operate are connected by our shared mission: to create memories worth repeating for our guests and for our partners,” shared Susan Harris, president and chief operating officer. “Combined with a commitment to innovative, interactive experiences in unique, natural and historic locations, we focus on excellent guest service as a differentiator in the market. Our employees, who are our partners in this mission, live our values as they create authentic personal experiences for each guest who visits.”
That unwavering commitment has led to numerous awards, including Rock City Gardens being named “One of America’s Top 101 Places to Visit” by National Geographic, USA 101; a listing by AOL Travel as one of the “Natural Wonders Across America”; being chosen as one of “America’s Top Ten Great Pastimes” by USA TODAY; and being named a recent STS Travel Attraction of the Year.
A Vibrant Community Partner
As part of a legacy commitment to investing in sustainable communities and their people, SRC, Inc. has a vibrant community partnership program. With co-advocacy and tangible investments of financial and human resources, each event on the facility’s calendar supports and promotes a local charitable organization. Partners include Orange Grove Recycling, Lula Lake Land Trust, Emily’s Power for a Cure, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga, MaryEllen Locher Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Family Connections Supervised Visitation Center. Additional support is provided to Arts Build, the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, the United Way and the Salvation Army.
Another community investment is the company’s ongoing arts initiative, which involves commissioning regional artists and displaying their sculptures throughout Rock City. SRC, Inc. is the sponsor of Wayne-O-Rama, Chattanooga’s newest arts organization and iconic history funhouse. In 2017, Rock City and its partner, Wings to Soar, Inc., embarked on the eighth release of peregrine falcons in an ongoing effort to restore that species to the area.
With the legacy of innovation, stewardship and community as a foundation, See Rock City, Inc. is poised to continue its growth for the next generations of families who are seeking authentic experiences delivered through excellent service. The organization devotes substantial internal resources to the visioning and planning for what is possible within its brand portfolio. By focusing on people, SRC, Inc. has found a recipe for excellence that will lead it into the future.