Business Brief

Thursday, February 6, 2014

TVA: Energy Usage Records Broken in January

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Tennessee Valley Authority customers broke records for energy use last month, the energy provider announced Tuesday.

TVA said five of the top 10 energy usage days in its history were recorded in January and said this winter's "arctic cold" was the likely culprit. Energy use on Tuesday, January 7 was the highest in TVA history at nearly 703 gigawatt hours. The low temperature in Memphis that day was 1 degree and the high was 27 degrees, according to data from Weather Underground.

Other January dates in the TVA's top 10 were January 6, 28, 29, and 24.

The energy used on the five days in January totaled 3,399 gigawatt hours. That's enough energy to power the entire city of Nashville for 10 months, power a laptop computer for 5.9 million years, or send the "Back to the Future" Delorean through time 2,809 times.

Most of that power was generated at coal-fired energy plants (32 percent). Nuclear (24 percent) and gas power (21 percent) rounded out the top 3 TVA power sources for those days in January.

The power surge is good news for TVA as the company is coming off a soft season for energy use. Power use dips annually in October, November, and December, according to TVA's last quarterly earnings report, which covered those last three months of 2013.

TVA reported a net loss of $67 million on revenues of $2.3 billion in October, November, and December. The loss was an improvement over the same period last year when TVA saw a $245 million loss.

TVA provides electric power to public utilities in seven states including Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hard Rock Move and $2.5M Renovation Confirmed

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 9:54 AM

  • Beale Street Merchants Association

Any doubt that company officials want to move the Hard Rock Cafe west on Beale Street to the Lansky Bros. building were all but erased with a building permit filed Monday.

A $2.5 million permit was pulled from the city of Memphis for renovations and remodeling to the interior and exterior of the building at 126 Beale. The spot is known to most simply as "the Lansky Bros. building" and was last the home of E.P.'s Delta Kitchen & Bar, which closed in 2008.

The permit names Belz Enterprises as the owner of the building and the tenant as Hard Rock Cafe International.

Memphis architects Hnedak Bobo Group will design the new space, according to the permit. W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. will build the new restaurant, bar, and rock and roll memorabilia showplace.

News of the move excited the Memphis press two weeks ago. Reporters had confirmed the news through Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's office and through former Beale Street manager John Elkington. Monday's building permit is the first confirmation of the planned move by company officials.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cooper-Young Farmers Market Considers Overton Square Move

Posted By on Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 9:57 AM

The Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market is considering a move to Overton Square.


Market leaders entered a Facebook contest in late 2013 for free marketing services by local firm Obsidian Public Relations. The main reason the market needed the services, according to contest posts, was to help it begin the move from the parking lot of First Congregational Church Memphis to bustling Overton Square.

But the move is not happening “as of today,” said Lauren Boyer, a member of the market’s board of directors.

“We are considering a potential move but have not decided or made any formal agreements with Loeb Properties,” Boyer said.

The market did not win Obsidian’s PR 180° Project contest for PR services.

The Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market was founded in 2009. The market is now a year-round market and is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday at the corner of Walker and Cooper.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Olive Oil Shop Set To Open in Overton Square

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 11:37 AM


A specialty olive oil tasting shop will be opening soon at 2094 Trimble in Overton Square, in one of the bays facing the new Tower Courtyard and parking garage.

Memphian Kenny Ford, a practicing veterinarian for 32 years, signed the first long-term lease for a shop on the Trimble side of the redeveloped square.

The Square Olive will initially sell 24 olive oils from Argentina, and new varieties will be added each month. Patrons will be able to sample oils with breads in the store, and Ford will also hold olive oil/wine pairing tasting events.

Additionally, he will sell balsamic vinegars, olive oil-based soaps, hand lotions, and pet shampoos from his sister's company MS Soaps.

“My sister Janet has made high quality olive oil-based beauty products for several years now for her company MS Soaps,” Ford said. “Her products are carried in a lot of specialty stores in Mississippi, and I’m excited to be able to introduce them to Memphis."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Commercial Appeal Layoffs Show Lack of Creative Vision, Newspaper Guild President Says; May Represent a Shift in Editorial Focus

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 6:07 PM

The Commercial Appeal sent 17 employees home this week including community editor Emily Keplinger, reporter Matt Woo, and two additional contributors to the My Life community news section. Although reports suggest that My Life will continue in a truncated form, these cuts represent a shift away from former editor Chris Peck's brand of community journalism, and may reflect a new direction under the leadership of current editor Louis Graham.

CA editor Louis Graham
  • CA editor Louis Graham

Additional cuts include a clerk and a cashier in accounting, a clerk in operations, a forklift operator and a rack repairman. Advertising lost two employees. There were five additional cuts in operations and one in information technology.

In an article posted at the website for the Newspaper Guild of Memphis, guild president Wayne Risher describes the cuts to editorial staff as a failure of creative vision.

"Time will tell if management’s new strategy succeeds in preserving and strengthening quality journalism in Memphis and maintaining the CA as a viable newspaper," he writes. "For the moment, people are hurting, in our opinion needlessly, because management didn’t have the creativity, vision and boldness to find a way to effectively harness their talents."

An excerpt of Risher's post is excerpted below the fold. You can check out the whole thing here.

Continue reading »

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Commercial Appeal Lays Off 17

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 1:04 PM

It's just like December, 2011 all over again. The Commercial Appeal is once again negotiating a contract with the Newspaper Guild, and once again the newspaper is cutting its staff.

Seventeen CA employees will lose their jobs this holiday season, including four in the newsroom. Eight of the positions being eliminated are Guild-covered. Nine are management positions.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Delta Airlines To Cut More Flights

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 1:55 PM


Delta Airlines announced on Tuesday that it will reduce the number of peak-day departure flights leaving the Memphis International Airport from 64 to 40, beginning December 3rd.

Delta staff will also be reduced by 312 workers. Employees are being offered retirement or relocation options. The flight attendant base in Memphis will be forced to close.

There's no word yet on what flights Delta will cut.

“This is not completely unexpected news, but it is nonetheless disappointing,” said Scott Brockman, chief operating officer for the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. “This is also an opportunity to bring additional low-cost air service providers to Memphis, as well as expand service with existing carriers. Southwest Airlines will soon make its debut, and Frontier Airlines has announced its return in March. That’s a good start, but we’re committed to continued, relentless pursuit of additional frequent and affordable air service.”

Earlier this year, Delta announced Memphis would no longer be a hub.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Frontier Airlines Announces Low-Cost Air Service In Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Only a few weeks after Delta Airlines made headlines for pulling its hub out of Memphis, low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines has announced that it will bring its service to Memphis International Airport in March of next year.


The Denver-based airline will offer four non-stop flights to Denver, as well as open connections to San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Phoenix, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland, and six other western cities.

“Today’s exciting announcement from Frontier Airlines is the beginning of a new era of affordable airfare choices for our passengers,” said Jack Sammons, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority Board of Commissioners. “I am confident Frontier’s direct service to Denver will be warmly embraced by passengers in our region.”

Frontier is currently promoting discount fares as low as $69 for flights booked on their website through October 12th.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Overton Square Parking Garage Opens

Posted By on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM


The mass construction in Overton Square has ended with the opening of the long-awaited parking garage.

The garage, which has 451 spaces, will be free to park in during the month of October. Beginning November 1st, there will be a flat — not hourly — rate to park: $3 between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m., unless there is a special event. During the day, the garage will remain free.

“It’s our way of thanking Memphis for being patient with the garage construction over the past year," Earl Williams, COO and CFO of Loeb Properties, said. "We know that the progress created less-than-ideal circumstances for patrons, but traffic in Overton Square grew in spite of it. That kind of loyalty deserves a show of appreciation.”

The real estate company, which manages the city-owned garage, plans to have security cameras and emergency phones installed.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Bikram Yoga To Open in Overton Square

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 5:00 PM

  • From

Another fitness-related business is moving into Overton Square. Bikram Yoga, which has operated a studio in East Memphis since 2005, has signed a lease for its Bikram Hot Yoga Memphis in the square.

The studio, which will open at 2105 Madison, will offer hot yoga, deep tissue massage, and Ayurvedic therapy. It will join Delta Groove Yoga, Cardio Barre, and Breakaway Running in the fitness-focused, redeveloped Overton Square. Bikram and Cardio Barre will both be located on the second floor above the old Palm Court and ice skating rink area.

Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, is a 26-posture sequence practiced in a heated room. It is believed to promote weight loss, increase energy, reduce pain, and improve mental clarity.

This lease brings Overton Square's occupancy to 78 percent.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Take a Virtual Tour of Wiseacre Brewing Company

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Wiseacre Brewing Company, a craft brewery that will open to the public on Friday, August 30th, gave us a sneak peek into their new state-of-the-art facility.

Beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, patrons can sample beers, purchase growlers, and take tours of the facility at 2783 Broad.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Clothing Boutique To Open In Overton Square

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Alexandra Rushing
  • Alexandra Rushing

The Attic, a locally-owned boutique selling women's and men's clothing and accessories, will open in the 1,300 square foot space next to Bar Louie in Overton Square this September.

Alexandra Rushing, owner of the Ivory Closet in Harbortown and Adel Amor Cosmetics (and a 2013 Memphis Flyer hottie!), is opening the store with her business partner Ben Scharff, owner of IronJaw Labs and creator of IronJaw custom mouth guards.

The shop will carry clothing and accessories by brands such as Library of Flowers, Yosi Samra, Lucky Feather, Coobie and Chilly Jilly.

The concept: "New York chic without New York prices."

“Glamorous treasures and timeless pieces are found in everyone’s attic,” said Rushing. “Our attic is no different.”

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cardio Barre Signs Lease for Overton Square

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Cardio Barre fitness class
  • Cardio Barre fitness class

Yet another fitness-related business has signed a lease with Loeb Properties for space in Overton Square.

Loeb Properties announced that Cardio Barre, which offers high-energy, no-impact exercise classes that combine dance-based barre work with light weights, will be moving into a 2,310-square-foot space on the second floor above the old Palm Court.

Cardio Barre is the third fitness-focused business to sign a lease for the Square since Loeb Properties took over management of most of the Square's empty buildings. Others have included Delta Groove Yoga Studio, which is currently up and running, and Breakaway Running, which should move into a downstairs bay soon.

Additionally, Loeb Properties has leased space to restaurant's Bar Louie and Local Gastropub.

Cardio Barre has franchises across the country. The Overton Square Cardio Barre will be run by native Memphian Allison Steward, a dancer and former model for Shape Magazine.

For more on Overton Square's revitalization, check out this week's Flyer cover story.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Where’s Wendi: There’s a lot to write about in Memphis. Why is Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas MIA?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Wendi Thomas
  • Wendi Thomas
Has anybody noticed that Wendi Thomas, the Commercial Appeal’s lightning rod columnist, hasn’t written a column since early May? To borrow from the vernacular of stand-up comedy, "What's up with that?"

Had Thomas’ columns finally become too hot to handle? Did she become a casualty of regime change following the departure of publisher Joe Pepe and editor Chris Peck? Could it be that her critics finally convinced management that she was entirely out-of step with Memphis’ loudest 30%, and an enemy of history, liberty, and free enterprise? Or, has she just been busy doing other things?

Turns out, it’s the latter.

“Rumors of the death of my column have been greatly exaggerated,” says Thomas, who, in addition to her duties as a columnist, signed on to pull one night shift a week at the metro desk back in January. Thomas has since agreed — temporarily— to take on additional editing responsibilities, that have precluded the kind of research and dedication required to create a regular column. She plans to return to her regular writing schedule later this summer.

“I’ll be back at my column and some online only commentary in mid-July, when a temporary editing assignment ends,” she says.

Public officials may wish to take note. The CA doesn’t have a staff cartoonist either. If there was ever a time for epic jackassery, this would be it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Memphis Regional Design Center Moves In a New Direction

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Jeff Sanford will serve as interim executive director of the Memphis Regional Design Center
  • Jeff Sanford will serve as interim executive director of the Memphis Regional Design Center

Last night, the Memphis Regional Design Center's (MRDC) board of directors voted to reorganize the five-year-old, non-profit, urban design and planning organization. That reorganization meant letting go of founding director Chooch Pickard.

MRDC board chair Bill Ferguson said the board is looking to hire a new director with management and fundraising skills, rather than someone who is more interested in the urban design and planning aspect.

"It was suggested that we need someone to manage, not someone who went to school for urban design, and all the administrative paperwork drives them crazy," Ferguson said. "We need someone who likes to network and get partnerships, someone who is always thinking about fundraising."

People with an urban design background would continue to work for the organization, but the director would take on more of a managerial role.

The board approved a six-month contract for Jeff Sanford, former executive director of the Center City Commission (now known as the Downtown Memphis Commission), to serve as interim director. He will be tasked with keeping the organization running while heading a search for a permanent executive director.

As for Pickard, he's currently seeking out new opportunities in the fields of architecture, historic preservation or urban design.

"I've enjoyed my time there, and I learned a lot. I met great people, and I plan to stay involved with the community in whatever I do in the future," Pickard said.

The mission and vision of MRDC, to make Memphis the most livable city in country while increasing vitality and economic stability through urban design and planning, will remain the same. MRDC's accomplishments include the establishment of the Midtown Overlay (which protects Midtown's historic character in new development projects), the founding of the South Memphis Farmers Market and that community's renaissance, leading public discussions about the future of Overton Square, and the restoration of the Broad Avenue Arts District.

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