The dream team behind the Tennessee Brewery Untapped project is at it again, this time with a professional landscaper, a marketing guru, a crackerjack mixologist, and a veteran chef on board for something a little more permanent and just as distinct.
Loflin Yard, a new restaurant concept hatched from the minds of Andy Cates, Michael Tauer, Taylor Berger, Doug Carpenter, and Brad Barnett, is set to open its doors Thursday, on the old Loflin Safe & Lock site in the South End.
"This is completely unique. There is nothing else like it in town," Carpenter, principal of Doug Carpenter + Associates and an investor in the restaurant, says.
The establishment is spread across one acre situated at the corner of Carolina and Florida, backing up to railroad tracks, and across the street from South Junction Apartments.
Loflin Yard incorporates the ideas of a curated wine list with bottles corked on site, barrel-aged cocktails that rotate the spotlight, sharable plates that are all grill-inspired, and treating the landscape as the main character.
And the landscape is a diva.
The main site, called the Safe House, where the safe-and-lock business operated, serves as the bar, the food ordering station, and the wine "cellar," with a customized wine rack displaying bottles for sale.
"You walk in and walk up to the cooler and shelves and pick out a bottle, take it to the counter, order your food, they cork the wine, and you go and sit and we bring you your food," Carpenter says.
Behind the bar sit rows of tiny barrels housing custom, classic cocktails designed by Mary Oglesby, who five months ago emigrated from Milwaukee, where she worked in the craft cocktail sector for several years.
On first rotation of the barrel-aged cocktail concoctions are Sazerac, Tennessee Whiskey Old Fashioned, and Boulevardier, among others.
All food is motivated by the tailor-made grill/smoker forged in the Smoke House area of the site.
"They made a custom grill for this place. It is a beautiful piece of equipment. It's set on an angle so that the grease drips down for re-basing, or mop sauce," Carpenter says.
Grilled beef brisket, grilled pork tenderloin, grilled asparagus, roasted tomatoes, smoked wings, street corn, charred watermelon, grilled romaine lettuce — this is the infrastructure on which the menu is built.
For dessert? S'mores, of course.
The chef? Andy Knight. You might remember him from Interim and Babalu and Bounty.
"It's just cool folks across the board making this happen," Carpenter says.
Patrons can opt to sit in the Safe House, with chairs salvaged from Christian Brothers University and fashioned for the bar, bistro-style tables, or dining tables, original tacking on the walls, and, of course, an old safe at the bar.
They can mosey outside onto the covered deck, complete with tin roof and a waterfall to set the mood.
Barnett, owner of the property and professional landscaper, took full advantage of the fact that the property includes an open basin of the Gayoso Bayou that runs under the city and is fed by a spring on the site, and created a waterfall using boulders and the existing culvert, calling it Loflin Falls.
The choices don't end there. A large lawn with Adirondack chairs, bocce, horseshoes, and a possible badass sporting option that isn't confirmed yet lead up to the Coach House, the old stable that once housed the Peabody Hotel carriage horses, which has been completely transformed with a covered porch and eventually with rolling glass garage doors.
"We're not sure what we're going to do with this yet. Possibly a live music venue or event space, or for overflow," Carpenter says.
The can't-lose location is just the sauce on the barbecue.
"The Harahan Bridge, which will open in October, is an easy route from here, as is Riverside Drive, so I think we will really strike a chord with folks down here as well as tourists. We're nestled right in the middle of all of this residential down here, so we're like an oasis around these apartments where they don't have yards or greenspace or a running water feature," Carpenter says.
"Everyone we've brought through here has been completely mesmerized. Where else can you go and hear the waterfall and smell the smoker. We look for it to be pretty exciting, and it's definitely a long-term venture," he says.
Loflin Yard opens Thursday, April 7th at 7 W. Carolina. Hours are scheduled to run Mon. through Thurs. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Sat. through Sun. 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. For more information, visit loflinyard.com, or go to their Facebook page at facebook.com/loflinyard.