"Are you ready to rock?"
That's the first thing they'll ask you at Sammy Hagar's Red Rocker Bar & Grill, the new sports bar inside Southland Park. Here, the servers aren't servers; they're rock stars. And you know what, friend? You're a rock star, too.
The new restaurant was developed as part of a $38 million expansion at Southland that includes a new building, new additional parking, and 500 new slot machines. According to management, that brings the grand total to 1,950 — the most in the area.
As for Red Rocker, it is open, spacious and well-lit, with tall ceilings. Red is everywhere — an obvious nod to Hagar, aka the Red Rocker, who's best known for his hit "I Can't Drive 55." There are 55 flat-screen TVs, too, including a screen at every booth.
"During football season," says Southland marketing manager Marshall Robertson, "there's days where you got 10 games going on at one time. And if you come here, you can watch every single one of them."
When it comes to food, Red Rocker offers its own take on classic pub grub, including finger-licking barbecue nachos ($7.99) and a burger called the Three Meat Box ($11.99), which is slathered with a tasty sweet onion jam. I also enjoyed the meatloaf cupcake ($12.99), a savory treat with an "icing" of garlic mashed potatoes.
"Something we've always hung our hat on," Robertson says, "is the fact that we're a close, convenient option. If you live downtown, you can be here in 10 minutes. So why not give us a try and come stop in for lunch?"
So far, press coverage of Belly Acres — the new farm-to-table burger joint in Overton Square — has tended to focus on the zany décor, which, admittedly, is hard to miss. There's a bright-red tractor inside the front door and a big yellow crop duster hanging from the ceiling.
"We figure, instead of bringing the farm to your table," says owner Ben McLean, "we'll bring your table to the farm."
But the real story here isn't the family atmosphere — it's the menu. As an example, let's take the Early Riser, a bacon cheeseburger served with a fried egg between waffles. The beef is fresh, thick, and juicy, and for good reason: Nearly all of the ingredients come from within a day's drive of Memphis.
The beef is grass-fed, from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Bibb lettuce is from Tanimura & Antle Farm in Livingston, Tennessee. And the fried egg is sourced by Bring It Food Hub, right here in Memphis.
Here's the kicker. The whole thing, including house-made chips and a drink, will run you $15 — the same price you'd pay at so-called premium fast-casual burger joints. Only at Belly Acres, the food is tastier, it's local, and they'll bring it to your table.
"We're a place for families who want to feed their kids responsibly," McLean says. "Or really, anybody who wants a really good, grass-fed burger."
It's an audacious plan, but if it works, you might soon be seeing a lot more of Belly Acres. Over the next five years, depending on the success of the Overton Square restaurant, McLean says he plans to open 15 more like it across the Southeast.