Midtown oyster bar Anderton's East may have gone the way of Davy Jones' locker in late 2005, but the famous ship-shaped bar didn't sink with the store. Instead, it sailed into the hands of Midtown interior designer Jim Marshall.
The ship and other vestiges of Anderton's are at the Cove, Marshall's new oyster bar located in the old Beer Joint building at 2559 Broad Avenue.
Marshall acquired several decorative items, including the bar and three rustic red and yellow stained-glass chandeliers from an auction of Anderton's décor in June 2006. At the time, he had no idea what he'd do with the stuff.
He'd also purchased the building that once housed the Beer Joint, a popular dive known for its strict "no cursing" rule. But he wasn't sure what to do with that purchase either.
"I decided to store the Anderton's stuff at the building on Broad because I didn't have anyplace else big enough to hold it all," says Marshall, who opened the Cove with no experience working in bars or restaurants. "And then it was like: Building on Broad ... bar from Anderton's ... old Beer Joint. Wait a minute. A light bulb went off."
Once Marshall found a bank to finance the Cove, he began renovations.
"Even though it has this great funky old look, all the plumbing, wiring, bathrooms, roof, and heating and air systems had to be brought up to code. That was a long process," Marshall says. "The whole back of the building had been through a fire, and there was tons of termite damage."
But bar patrons would never guess it looking at the building today. The nautical décor looks as though it's always been there. Oversized chandeliers hang above salvaged diner-style tables and booths, and stained-glass lanterns dangle above the mirrored bar. The bar leads right into the Cove's modest kitchen.
"That bar can only be turned one way, and it just so happened to fit perfectly. It's really spooky," Marshall says.
Four framed paintings of sailors working on the deck of a ship line one wall in the Cove, and a painting of a ship at sea takes up an entire back wall. The paintings are part of a mural from Anderton's.
"The mural wasn't auctioned off. It wasn't even discussed. I asked Mr. Anderton what he was going to do with the murals, and he said, 'If you can get them off the wall, you can have them,'" Marshall says.
Marshall and a friend went into the boarded-up building on Madison on a 105-degree July afternoon and peeled all the murals off the walls.
"We didn't have tools. We just prayed none of it ripped," Marshall says.
In keeping with the sea-faring theme, the Cove will serve oysters on the half shell. "We even have the shucker from Anderton's," Marshall says. "It's hard work, and there's a right way to do it. This guy loves to shuck oysters."
The menu also features salads, sandwiches, and several vegetarian items like hummus and a fried eggplant panino. Several of the items, such as the iceberg wedge salad and the blackstrap molasses cake with banana buttercream icing, are reminiscent of dishes popular in the 1950s and '60s. Marshall's taking a retro approach to cocktails as well.
"We're going back to original recipes. I've done a lot of research on classic cocktails. That's a passion of mine," Marshall says.
The "Lovely Margarita" is made with fresh-squeezed lime juice rather than a mix. The recipe for the Cove's "Old Fashion" (bourbon, orange juice, bitters, lemon, cherry, and soda water) hails from the Oak Bar at New York's Plaza Hotel.
Marshall's opening couldn't have come at a better time for the burgeoning Broad Avenue arts district. The neighborhood recently held its well-attended second annual Broad Avenue Art Walk. Several art galleries, including Material and Metalcast, are located on the same block as the Cove.
"Bars and restaurants are a catalyst for neighborhoods," Marshall says. "People come to eat and drink, and then they walk around and look at things. I'm hoping the Cove will be a catalyst for this area."
But don't expect the Cove to become the new Hi-Tone or Buccaneer. Marshall only wants low-key, live acoustic music played in his bar.
"Some bars tend to be a little rowdier and geared more toward the bands. I want a place that's more comfortable to come have a glass of wine after work," Marshall says.
He's thinking of hosting cult classic movie nights, but most nights, he hopes the Cove will simply serve as a place to relax with friends.
"I think Midtown is ready for a new watering hole," Marshall says. "And we're a Midtown bar with an old Memphis soul. When you walk in here, it looks like this place has always been here. It's got all these layers. We're just putting a new twist on it."
The Cove, 2559 Broad (730-0719)