Barry Snyder, left, and Scott Coffey survey the old Ellis Restaurant's jumping frog sign with plans on restoring it to working order. The unique sign and former restaurant are situated directly across the street from the Chattanooga Choo Choo.A giant green neon frog may jump again in downtown Chattanooga.
An effort is underway to restore the Ellis Restaurant sign at 1443 Market St. across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
In its heyday, the sign blazed in Art Deco glory. A green neon frog -- advertising the restaurant's frog legs -- jumped over such neon-lit menu items as "steaks," "chops" and "spaghetti." The words "Ellis Restaurant" stood out in red neon surrounded by more than 600 white incandescent bulbs.
Like moths drawn to a flame, local diners and out-of-town luminaries -- including heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey and pro football quarterback Joe Namath -- ate at the Ellis Restaurant, which closed in the late 1970s.
"It's a piece of art," building owner Scott Coffey said of the sign. "I'm one of those who believes art shouldn't be in somebody's house. I believe art should be where people can enjoy it."