When the weather is as dreary as it was yesterday, it's hard not to imagine sunnier days, lounging on a fancy new patio, tequila sno-cone in hand.
This, the handiwork of Yolo founder and general entrepreneurial guru Taylor Berger, was on display briefly yesterday for a menu tasting, and we liked what we saw. After quite a bit of renovating (moving the kitchen, bathrooms, staircase) Berger unveiled a hip, multilevel bar and restaurant reminiscent of some of the cool spots you'd see in Austin or Chicago. Exposed brick, industrial steel staircase, distressed wood — you know the drill.
Here's a few snaps of the upstairs space, including the expansive bar modeled by local blogger extraordinaire, Stacey Greenberg.
Chiwawa got some attention in the last few weeks for its giant lighted sign that reads "Midtown is Memphis" — borrowed from the bumper sticker catchphrase that has been circulating Memphis since 1993 (coined by our very own John Branston and his friend Tom Foster.) The arched sign leads onto Chiwawa's patio and sits directly on Madison Avenue.
I asked Berger how he would describe Chiwawa's menu.
"Badass?" he said.
Go see for yourself this week, as Berger hopes to have the place up and running by Wednesday. Chiwawa won't have its beer license right away, so you'll have to stick to liquors and high gravity beers at first. Once the doors are open, Chiwawa will be churning out cheap eats and drinks from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Chiwawa, 2059 Madison Avenue, 517-6518, www.chiwawamidtown.com
About a month ago, Sekisui announced plans to move its original location at Humphreys Center to Regalia Center in the site of Circa.
Those plans are now "on hold," according to David Lindsey of Sekisui.
"It's not going to happen anytime soon," says Lindsey. "That's all I can tell you at this point."
Details were not provided as to what happened. Lindsey says there are no immediate plans to move into Regalia or relocate the Humphreys restaurant, referred to among the locations as Sekisui East, to another location. The Humphreys restaurant closed in December after the lease was not renewed to make way for the Baptist Center for Cancer Care.
Lindsey says that most of the staff from Sekisui East are now at different locations. He says that the Humphreys restaurant, the first Sekisui opened in 1989, has a loyal customer base.
"Fortunately," Lindsey says, "there are enough locations so that everyone has an option."
Check back for updates.
The original Sekisui, which opened in 1989 at the Shops at Humphreys Center, is moving on. A new space has been secured at the Regalia Center where Circa was located.
According to David Lindsey of Sekisui, the restaurant's lease in the building was not renewed. (A story in the Commercial Appeal outlines plans for the Baptist Center for Cancer Care that would go in that space.)
"Our main objective was to find a nice location as close as possible [to the Humphreys location]," Lindsey says. The Regalia restaurant is just a mile or so away from the Humphreys location, so that loyal customers won't have to travel far. Lindsey says that the staff from Humphreys will be making the move to Regalia as well. He also notes that the new location is also ideal in that Sekisui will not be competing with another Sekisui.
The move is now taking place, and changes will be made to Circa to transform it into a Japanese restaurant.
Lindsey says details are still be worked out, but he doesn't think there will be hibachi at the Regalia restaurant.
They hope to be open by mid-February and will be posting progress reports on their website sekisuiusa.com.
As for Circa, the restaurant closed last week, but has announced, via Facebook, plans to reopen around the same time as the new Sekisui, the middle of next month, in a new space on Poplar.
The event comes courtesy John Currence, who owns Oxford’s celebrated City Grocery as well as Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast, Snack Bar, and the Main Event catering company. City Grocery is undergoing renovations during the month of January, so, says City Grocery’s chef de cuisine Jesse Houston, “We wanted to make sure the staff kept busy, involve our friends, and have fun with it too.”
Those friends include chefs who’ll have the run of the Main Event site for four days each, Wednesdays through Saturdays, to create cheap and portable eats. Participating in Big Bad Pop-Ups: Eli Kirshstein of Top Chef fame (January 9th-12th); chefs from City Grocery (January 16th-19th); Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen/Hog & Hominy’s Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman (January 23rd-26th); and Restaurant Iris’ Kelly English (January 30th-February 2nd).
Kirshstein will serve up Israeli street food. The folks from City Grocery are doing Americana staples like hamburgers and hot dogs. Ticer and Hudman will bring their unique Hog & Hominy-style of Italian-meets-Southern fare to Oxford, while English’s take will be Louisiana-style truck-stop food.
“It’s going to be fun for us fancy chefs to do food we wouldn’t normally do,” says English, who’s planning on serving boudin hot dogs and chicken red beans and rice, among other fare. “It’s really filthy food, just filthy,” he says. “I mean that in the most positive way.”
For more information, go the event's Facebook page.
Looks like Balewa Bayete, who once served his Live Burgers and other raw-based cuisine out of Sean's Cafe,
The address is 394 N. Watkins at the site of the old Edge Coffeehouse at the corner of Watkins and Overton Park near the Sears Crosstown building.
Balewa says he'll serve the same raw-based menu, "only more of it." (There are some cooked items: the buns for the Live Burger and the quinoa dishes, for example). There will be sandwiches, salads, side items, smoothies, carry-out items, and more.
Balewa plans to start with four to six tables and then expand as he gets settled in.
The opening for Balewa's Vegan Gourmet is set for the first week in November.
A little more than a month ago, Cosmic Coconut took on a new group of owners and with it newly expanded hours and a considerably larger menu. Drink sizes have also increased, while the drinks' price points have been reduced.
The new partners are Taylor Berger of Yolo, Arielle Moinester, Scott Tashie, and Stephen Stamps.
"To those employees, I'm sorry. I wish we could keep it going," says Jerry Vela, regarding the sudden closing of 7 CK's Coffee Shops.
Vela and brother-in-law Randy Gross took over several locations of the coffee shop chain in June 2010. On Sunday, July 29th, after the first shift, they closed the coffee shops for good. (There are three locations that Vela and Gross do not own that remain open.)
They say they closed on Sunday without notice to their employees to avoid theft. Gross says the move was to protect assets and was not malicious.
Going over his time with CK's, Gross says, "The first year was great."
To celebrate the win, based on votes of the event's attendees, the restaurant is adding the soup to the menu for this week only. Fifty percent of the sales of the $5 bowl will go directly to Youth Villages.
The Memphis Business Journal has suspended its Best Chef in Memphis contest just one day after it was launched.
The move came after restaurateurs and chefs included in the contest complained about the contest's format, which pitted chef against chef in a bracket, with the winner to be determined by an online vote.
MBJ made the announcement Thursday in a post on the paper's site, explaining, "We looked at the contest as a way to engage more local readers while highlighting the spectacular culinary scene we have in Memphis (which we plainly stated in the launch). We never intended to disparage or upset the chefs; we thought, quite honestly, it would be a fun, tongue-in-cheek way to incite a friendly competition."
Restaurateurs and chefs included in the Memphis Business Journal's Best Chef in Memphis tournament — which pits 32 chefs against each other in a bracket, with online voting to determine a winner — responded Wednesday afternoon with a letter to the paper.
The letter outlines the community spirit of Memphis restaurateurs and reads, in part, "The people who have chosen to make Memphis their culinary home in the past few years have done so with the forethought that Memphis can be and is different than other cut-throat restaurant towns. As such, we feel we will have to respect[fully] decline your offer to participate in the MBJ's Best Chef in Memphis Competition as it is currently structured. It just does not reflect the way in which we choose to do business and support each other."
The full letter below ...
On Saturday, December 10th, Kudzu's will hold a grand re-opening.
Kelly and Jerry King took over the downtown restaurant and watering hole from Steve and Cathy Edmundson back in September.
So what's new?
"We've kept it kind of the same, same vibe," says Jerry, who serves as manager with wife Kelly acting as owner.
There have been changes, though. The Kings bought the building (the Edmundsons rented) and have been making improvements. And the spot, a longtime hangout for journalists, now has wi-fi. There's a new internet jukebox, too, and the draft beer selection has been updated to include Ghost River and craft beers.
The menu has stayed roughly intact. One addition is the Hoosier ($5.03), pork tenderloin breaded and deep-fried.
After weeks of teasers about something "neu," the mystery restaurant was revealed at a media event Thursday night.
The name of the restaurant — located in the former site of Sole at the downtown Westin — came with a dramatic unveiling of the building's sign.
Slim Skillet's is now Slim's & Bentley's, and Vito's Cucina has changed its name to Vito's To Go.
If you are pig crazy like me, but don’t know the difference between primal and offal, you might want to stop by Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen on Saturday for a lesson from a pro.
David Newman, who teaches meat science at North Dakota State University in Fargo, will lead a butchering seminar from noon to 2 p.m. to explain (and demonstrate) how to break down a pig for nose-to-tail cooking. The seminar is free, and registration is not necessary.
Two years, really? It seems that Silly Goose has been part of the downtown landscape for longer than that.
But, yes, says owner Daniel Masters, Silly Goose is indeed just two. "We're still young," he says.
In any case, tonight's anniversary party, starting at 9 p.m. is for grown folks: The popular Fireball shot is $4 and domestic beers are going for $2.50.