Wednesday, April 16, 2014 · 3:58 a.m.

Some of Chattanooga's business owners are considering joining forces to create an association aimed at strengthening local, independent restaurants. 

The idea grew out of a meeting that local restaurateurs recently had with leaders of Chattanooga Whiskey Company. 

On Tuesday, the Chattanooga Whiskey team announced they would cancel their New Year's Eve party after meeting with bar and restaurant owners who expressed concerns that the liquor producer was becoming a competitor.

Restaurateur with Public House Nathan Lindley said via email that forming the association would be a positive move for a city that is fortunate to have good, independently owned eateries. 

"We discussed forming a group in the vein of Nashville Originals or Birmingham Independents to coordinate our marketing and advertising efforts and form an even response to competition from chains and questionable business practices," Lindley said via email. 

Jay Sheridan, spokesman for the Nashville Originals—which is a nonprofit, independent restaurant association—said the group is focused on sustaining locally owned restaurants in the Music City. 

"The organization was formed to increase the visibility and viability of Nashville's independent restaurants, to support each other in the mission of preserving our community's culinary identity," he said via email.

Local restaurant leaders have plans to reconvene after the holidays to discuss how the association might work, including issues involving charitable giving and organized responses to industry issues, Lindley also said. 

Two times a year, members of the Nashville Originals host Nashville Restaurant Week, offering special menus and prices at more than 45 locations. 

Members of the association also administer a gift certificate program, Sheridan said. 

"Our resources are focused primarily on marketing the organization and our members throughout the year," he also said. "We also support a number of charitable initiatives and offer group buying power on essential services through supplier partnerships."

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