Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Margarita Fest

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 3:59 PM

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We can just about guaran-damn-tee you it's going to be hot as hell on June 2nd, so how about a little something to chase the heat away.

Doesn't a super-frosty margarita sound good?

The Flyer's annual Margarita Festival is set for June 2nd in Overton Park, and tickets usually sell out and are going fast. (The cost is $38.) Get 'em today or be sorry.

Guests can sample up to 15 Margaritas from area restaurants and vote on their favorite to win the Best Margarita in Memphis.

Get Yer Tickets 

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pete & Sam's returns!

Posted By on Sun, May 20, 2018 at 6:35 PM

Pete & Sam's restaurant reopens  at 4 p.m. May 21. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Pete & Sam's restaurant reopens at 4 p.m. May 21.
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The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived — if you’re a Pete & Sam’s lover, like I am. The restaurant re-opens at 4 p.m. May 21st.

And, I have to say, I love it. It’s beautiful. And it still feels like Pete & Sam’s.

The beloved restaurant closed after a fire December 12th. Now — with new plumbing and electrical work and a decor facelift — the restaurant is ready to start serving its signature spaghetti, ravioli, steaks, pizza, Beacon salad, fried chicken (one of Jerry Lawler’s favorites), and other favorites.

“Over $1 million was put in the restaurant to get it up and running,” says Michael Bomarito, who, along with his brother, Sammy Bomarito, are owners of the restaurant.

Some people, including myself, were afraid the restaurant would reopen with a modern, contemporary look.

Wrong.

“The goal was turn it back into the Pete & Sam’s in the ‘60s,” Michael says. “The classic Italian restaurant feel.”

The restaurant, which still seats 280 people, evokes “the old Italian restaurant you see in a movie,” Sammy says.

They searched to find just the right type of carpeting with a “retro-groovy ‘60s feel,” he says.

Booths now replace the tables that used to line the South wall of the dining room, but they fit in just right. An extra booth was added toward the front after a wall was lengthened when they got rid of the old busing station.

The old gray ceiling now is black, which, as Sammy says, gives more of an intimate feel to the restaurant.

The old chairs and booths remain, but they’re now covered with a vinyl fabric called “Red Rover,” which fits perfectly with the decor.

Redd Kirk Design Studio was the restaurant’s design firm, but it’s almost like Pete & Sam’s fans had a hand in the design. For instance, the old take-out window now has a marble countertop, but the 60-year-old spindles were kept on either side of the window, Michael says. “The hokey spindles on top. Cause they’ve always been there.”

Vintage ceiling light fixtures, which survived two fires, now grace the front dining room. “They’re so good looking, we had to bring them back,” Sammy says.

The old cast iron grapevine wall hangings were repainted and refurbished and now can be seen framing oversized photos of the late Sam Bomarito, who, along with the late Pete Romeo, founded the restaurant in 1948, and Vita Gattuso, Sam’s sister, who regulars remember standing side-by-side with Sam at the cash register.

You might not have noticed it because of the photographs on the wall, but the 1960s acrylic stained “crinkle pattern” panels in red, white, yellow, and orange still are where they were, but more of them have been added. A new bar area, which seats 16 people at the bar and 16 more at tables, has folding doors with more of the acrylic panels. The doors open to the rear dining room. Finding those panels wasn’t easy. “We sourced it out,” Sammy says. “It took six weeks to find it.”

But getting back to that bar. It’s perfect. A utility room was ripped out and a wall taken out to make more room, but the bar still has an intimate feel.

Customers now can order mixed drinks at Pete & Sam’s. “We’re a full bar,” Michael says.

The “Elvis room” still is located where it always was in the rear dining room, but it’s been revamped.

So, what about the food? I tried some lasagna. Excellent. Yes, you can go home again.

It’s the “same classic menu,” Michael says.

Only “a few non-sellers” - were removed from the menu, he says.

And no new items appear on the menu. "We didn't add anything," Michael says.


Your favorite servers who were at the restaurant in December will be back, Michael says. Some new cooks have been added.


One thing that isn’t at Pete & Sam’s anymore is the artificial tree, which was seasonally decorated. “We lost the tree before the fire,” Michael says. “It cracked.”

But, he adds, “We look pretty good without it.”

And, if you remember it, the phone booth near the take-out window is gone. “We got rid of the phone booth,” Sammy says.

A photo of a smiling “Mr. Sam” with two pizzas now hangs on the wall where the phone booth once was.

Note: Don’t try to reserve a table on opening night. “We’re not taking any reservations,” Michael says. “We know we’re going to be inundated.”

“First come, first serve,” Sammy says.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Agave Maria Now Open (Again)

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM

AGAVE MARIA FACEBOOK
  • Agave Maria Facebook

Jeff Johnson had a grand vision, but sometimes (all the time?), Memphis simply isn't about it.

His thinking in opening Agave Maria originally was a high-end place that pulled from cuisines all over Latin America.

But it didn't take.

Johnson now acknowledges that Memphis is a Margarita-tacos-cheese dip sort of place.

"You know Memphis. Sometimes it doesn't work out," he 
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says.

Johnson decided to rethink Agave Maria, located Downtown at 83 Union. He closed in October and recently reopened. There are no major overhauls in the decor, but the menu is, yes, Margarita-tacos-cheese dip-friendly.

The new approach, says Johnson, is casual. The menu is "reasonably authentic."

The menu features empanadas, burritos, nachos, and, of course, tacos. The "Tacos Especial" include pork belly, duck, hot chicken, lobster, lamb shawarma, and Korean short rib. Among the "Street Tacos" are a brisket, chorizo, and al pastor. The menu also has desserts and a "not tacos" section.

Agave Maria also offers 25 cent Margaritas during lunch on Fridays. (Or, 4 for a dollar, to borrow a line from Michael Donahue.) These are 8-ounce pours. Not enough to get you sloppy, says Johnson.

Once things get settled and the staff is set, Johnson is planning a free lunch with unlimited tacos for Downtown workers.

Agave Maria is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rock 'N Dough now Brewing Beer

Posted By on Tue, May 15, 2018 at 3:45 PM

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The Rock 'N Dough in Germantown is now a brewpub, according to operations manager Trevor Jones.

They began serving its own house-brewed beer in mid-April.

There are 12 taps serving the beer, which ranges across all styles. American blonde, Belgium wit, several IPAs (both single and double), stouts, and porters are all offered. Everything, Jones says, to suit all tastes.

One of the porters offered is called Smoky Porter and the Bandit.

The Jackson, TN, location already operates as a brewpub.

Jones says the cool thing about making their own beer is that they can design it to taste good with their menu offerings. Plus, pizza and beer is simply a no-brainer.

"The marriage between pizza and beer doesn't take too much explaining," he says.  

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Statement on the Front Porch

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 4:49 PM

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Deni and Patrick Reilly, who opened the Front Porch as a pop-up last spring through their consulting group Majestic Hospitality, have issued a statement regarding the news that the restaurant will not reopen.

The announcement is not a surprise, says Deni Reilly. She says they had basically detached themselves from the deal when the Riverfront Development Corp. (now the Memphis River Parks Partnership) was between leadership. Carol Coletta took over for the retiring Benny Lendermon earlier this year.

We’re proud of what we accomplished during our pop-up last summer. We created a fun, relatable restaurant that Memphians across all walks of life embraced and enjoyed, making the Riverfront not just more accessible, but a lively place to interact with your neighbors and experience, up close the Mighty Mississippi.

We created The Front Porch brand for the then RDC, now MRPP. They own the brand, and all the recipes, plate builds, inventory control, marketing tools, employee handbooks, and training guides, along with all our recommendations on how to make The Front Porch a long term viable amenity for park patrons. There are some significant infrastructure upgrades and minor concept tweaks that we recommend be undertaken to make it a permanent ammenity, including but not limited to new carpet, rebuilding the bar, and more functional furniture. The absence of natural gas, while not ideal, is not a major hurdle to running a successful food and beverage operation, which we proved last summer with our kitchen upgrades, staff management, and menu design.

The MRPP, as everyone knows, is undergoing significant restructuring, and has our commitment to help them in any way we can including, if they so choose, opening The Front Porch as they implement their new vision.

We’re most proud that The Front Porch pop up was able to help facilitate a shift in culture at Beale Street Landing from a mindset of custodial oversight and crowd management to one of welcoming hospitality and customer service, something we feel should be an integral part of the fabric of the Riverfront as the front porch of this great city. We look forward to a continued embrace of this culture shift by the new MRPP leadership, and are excited to see and perhaps be a part of the new things on the horizon for our beautiful Riverfront. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

'Delta Proud' Mighty Miss Brewing Pouring Into Memphis

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 4:09 PM

TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells

When Sleep Out Louie’s opens Saturday, its draft towers will carry beers “imported from the Delta.”

Mighty Miss Brewing Co. opened “just blocks” from the Mississippi River in Greenville, Miss., last year, claiming it’s ”proud to be the first and only brewery in the Mississippi Delta.”

The company — billed as ”Mississippi forward and Delta proud” — is now entering the Memphis market with beers in cans at Cash Saver, Miss Cordelia’s, and elsewhere. It’s also on tap at draft houses like the Casual Pint, Hammer & Ale, and others.

Melia Christensen, with Mighty Miss, says the company tries to brew in the “middle of the spectrum,” somewhere between macro-brewed stuff from the likes of Bud, Miller, and Coors, and the independent craft stuff flowing from your neighborhood taproom.

“The Mississippi craft beer culture is not as developed as it is in Memphis,” Christensen says. “I like to say it’s kind of like craft beer with training wheels. So, we’re trying to encourage mainstream drinkers to the craft side.”
For proof, look no further than its Pace porter. (Every Mighty Miss beer is named for a Mississippi town. Pace has a population of 294.) Porters are famously dark and thick-bodied with plenty of room for those sweet, chocolatey, vanilla-y, and roasty notes to flow.

They flow in Pace, too. But it’s light, simple, and low-alcohol (clocking in at 5 percent). Christensen said it’s a “porter you can enjoy in the summertime.” Pace is perfect for anyone who has ever said, "I don't like dark beers."

Mighty Miss is offering up its Mighty Miss American Pale Ale, Kinlock Kolsch, and Arcola Amber at restaurants and bars around Memphis. But only at Sleep Out Louie’s can you get its Onward Amber Ale (and you’ll want to, trust me).

Sleep Out Louie’s (How do we shorten that? Just Louie’s? Sleep Out’s?) offered up a few menu items at a tasting Thursday.

TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
The spinach-and-artichoke dip is second to none. The soft pretzels may seem standard but the dips raise it well above. (A tip I got from the Sleep Out Louie’s team: dip a pretzel in the gouda first and then in the caramel. I know. I know. Do it once. Thank me later.)

TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells

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Michael Donahue's Best Bets: Mango-Orange Cobbler

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 3:25 PM

Jenny Dempsey's home-made mango-orange cobbler and home-made vanilla ice cream at McEwen's. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jenny Dempsey's home-made mango-orange cobbler and home-made vanilla ice cream at McEwen's.

Just the word “cobbler” — as in blackberry, peach, and apple — makes me hungry. That crust mixed with fruit is tantalizing.

I’ve eaten all types of cobblers. I once made a blackberry cobbler using Bisquick. You mix all the ingredients together and the crust rises to the top while it’s cooking. I love that one, too.

But I tried a brand-new cobbler the other night at McEwen’s. It was a mango-orange cobbler. As we used to say in the ‘60s, it blew my mind. It was fabulous.

McEwen’s pastry chef Jenny Dempsey created the cobbler two weeks ago.

First, a little history about Dempsey. A native of Hollywood Beach, Florida, Dempsey first went to work at McEwen’s in 2005, but left after a while and worked at other Memphis restaurants. She helped Jose Gutierrez open the old Encore restaurant in the Peabody. She also worked at Bari Ristorante, Beauty Shop, and Mollie Fontaine Lounge before returning to McEwen’s seven years ago.

“The first cobbler I ever made was with Jose Gutierrez,” Dempsey says. “Pear or pear apple.”

She loved making cobblers. ‘It’s an easy Southern dessert and there are so many variations.”

Over the years, Dempsey made numerous cobblers, including pear, blueberry, blackberry, blueberry-blackberry, peach, apple, and mango,

She loves mango, so she suggested making a mango cobbler with some chiles and cinnamon, but she was told that might not sell. So, she took mango and orange zest and came up with the mango-orange cobbler.

“I usually don’t eat my desserts. I’ve been doing them so long I know what works.

But, she tried some of her newest one. “That mango and orange go so well together.”
It’s actually a simple dessert to make. The crust, she says, is just a shortbread made with butter, sugar, and flour.

She also makes her own cream-based ice cream with eggs, which is a perfect accompaniment to the cobbler.

Dempsey rotates cobblers, but the mango-orange now is available. If you want a particular cobbler, you can call and she'll make it on her next batch.

A chocolate cobbler is on Dempsey's radar. A friend made a killer one, but she doesn’t have his recipe. So, she’s going to have to come up with one. I can’t wait.

But now I want Dempsey to make that mango cobbler with the chiles and cinnamon. That sounds so good to me.

McEwen’s is at 120 Monroe; (901)-527-7085




Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Grisanti's on Wheels

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2018 at 11:21 AM

Grisanti's 9 Dough 1 food truck
  • Grisanti's 9 Dough 1 food truck
Grisanti's 9 Dough 1 food truck
  • Grisanti's 9 Dough 1 food truck



Alex Grisanti is spinning his wheels - in a good way.


The former chef of Elfo’s and his wife, Kim, are now operating a food truck - Grisanti’s 9 Dough 1 - during the week.


Or, as Alex says, “Literally cooking on the fly.”


He decided to open a food truck about a year and a half ago. “We closed Elfo’s down. I kept looking for something to do.”


Son of the late restaurateur Ronnie Grisanti, Alex thought about running another restaurant or maybe taking a food and beverage director job, but nothing sounded appealing. “A couple of my buddies who were executive chefs and owned their own place started a food truck business. They said, ‘You need to get in the food truck business with us.’”


He liked the idea. “I can work by myself. I don’t have to worry about rent and employees and things like that. You work hard for a couple of hours and pack up and take your restaurant home with you.”


So, Alex got a food truck. “I outfitted it with my brick pizza oven.”


He’s making flatbread pizzas, Italian salad, cannellonis and panna cottas. “I’m 100 percent Italy. There’s not another truck out on the street doing what Kim and I are doing with brick oven pizzas. The most popular is lobster pizza with butter garlic sauce, roasted tomatoes and onions, fresh lobster knuckle and claw meat. Then I have a chipotle aioli sauce over the top of it.”

Lobster pizza from Grisanti's 9 Dough 1 food truck. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Lobster pizza from Grisanti's 9 Dough 1 food truck.


The veggie pizza with squash, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, goat cheese, onion and fresh basil is another popular item, Alex says.


“What makes mine gourmet is I hand-do all my dough, hand-do all my sauces. I use only the freshest ingredients.”


He’s going to change the pizzas seasonally. “Doing pastas and stuff on the truck is too hard. Down the road I might do something.”


Alex hired graffiti artist Toonky Barry to paint the truck. “My truck is crazy. The whole thing has graffiti all over it.”


Usually, Alex and Kim are the only two operating the truck. “She takes the orders and the money and I make the pizzas and then put them in the oven.”


Their son, Elfo Grisanti, is in the truck on occasion. “Elfo works with me when he doesn’t have to work at The Kitchen.”


Elfo is the fifth generation Grisanti to work at a restaurant. His great-great-grandfather, Willie Grisanti, owned the old Grisanti’s restaurant on 552 Main Street.


“I’m the only one crazy enough to have a food truck.”


Does Alex miss a brick and mortar restaurant? “I’m always going to miss it. It’s in my blood. That’s what I do. All I know is cooking and taking care of Memphians. And if I can’t do it in brick and mortar, I’ll pull my truck to them.”


To track the Grisanti food truck, go to @9_dough_1 on Instagram or 9DOUGH1 on Facebook.



Monday, April 30, 2018

New DejaVu Set to Open this Week

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 at 11:48 AM

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The latest iteration of DejaVu, the Krewe of DejaVu, is set to open in its old location on Florida Street Downtown sometime this week.

Chef Gary Williams says he's waiting on the last inspections. He and his partners, Martin Gill and Rondell Charles, were pushing for an opening in time for Memphis in May.

The space has gotten painted. The driveway has been redone to improve parking and a patio has been added for seating up to 30.

Diners can expect their favorites — vegetarian, vegan, and Creole dishes — from DejaVu, says Williams.

"It's much the same," Williams says. "It's what people have loved for years and years."

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Pete & Sam's sneak peek!

Posted By on Sat, Apr 28, 2018 at 6:47 PM

Pete and Sam's  closed after a fire around midnight Dec. 12. It's slated to reopen soon. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Pete and Sam's closed after a fire around midnight Dec. 12. It's slated to reopen soon.
Pete & Sam's is slated to reopen soon after a fire closed the restaurant. People can't wait to see what the newly renovated restaurant looks like. Here is a sneak peek of some inside shots! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Meet Bluefin chef Ja Min Lee

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 at 3:22 PM

Ja Min Lee is executive chef at Bluefin restaurant. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Ja Min Lee is executive chef at Bluefin restaurant.

Ja Min Lee doesn’t smoke, drink alcohol or coffee. She looks decades younger than her 54 years.

“Food is very important for your physical body,” she says.

Lee is practicing what she preaches at Bluefin, where she has been executive chef for three months.

Lee, who owned three restaurants in Savannah, Ga., brought her healthy American menu to Memphis after she moved here three months ago to work with her brother, Bluefin owner Suk Woo.

Lee began cooking Korean food at age 6 at her home in Seoul, Korea. She later moved to the United States to study interior design in Atlanta.

While in the States, Lee learned how to cook American food, but decided to make it healthier by eliminating oil and by using fresh vegetables.

After moving to Memphis, she spent two months researching Memphis restaurants.

Woo said Lee told him she had to have fresh vegetables every day and no canned goods. “She doesn’t like canned food,” Woo says.

Bluefin kept its regular menu and added Lee’s American and other items, which included four piece chicken tenders (the chicken is not frozen, she says), gyros (red onions which Lee believes are the “most nutritious”) and Phillysteak (no salt, she says).

She also added a couple of bowls or Balls as it's written on the menu, including the chicken or beef K-Pop Ball, which has tofu and egg; and the Memphis Ball, which has lettuce, tomato, pickle, and corn. The customer can choose between white rice or “purple rice,” which she makes by boiling purple cabbage in the water with the rice.

Her menu, which is available at lunch and dinner, also includes burgers, wraps, shrimp, subs, and a club sandwich.

All items are available at Bluefin and next door at Bluefin Deli.

Bluefin is located at 135 South Main; (901-528-1010).



Monday, April 23, 2018

Michael Donahue's Best Bets: Irish Car Bomb

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 3:25 PM

irish Car Bomb at Sidestreet Burgers - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • irish Car Bomb at Sidestreet Burgers

An Irish Car Bomb explodes - with flavor - at Sidestreet Burgers in Olive Branch.

I tried the dessert created by the restaurant’s chef/owner Jonathan Mah. It’s fabulous.

I asked Mah to share the dessert’s history.

“Back in the day a lot of people were doing these ‘drop shots,’” Mah says. “Where you take some liquor and drop it in a glass and drop that in a glass of beer and you chug it. I wasn’t really into that, but somebody had told me about it and I said, ‘OK. I’ll try one of these.’ Apparently, it’s supposed to taste like chocolate milk. If it tastes like chocolate milk it’ll be OK.”

They gave him a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream mixed with Irish whisky. “You drop that in a pint of Guinness and chug the whole thing. So, I did a couple of them. It was very tasty, actually.”

Mah remembered that drink when he was sous chef in the kitchen with executive chef Karen Roth years ago at Alchemy. “I was trying to help her come up with dessert items. Kind of cool stuff. It dawned on me, ‘Why not take bread pudding and make it chocolate and add some kind of a twist? Like Irish whisky with praline sauce.’”

So, that’s what he did. “It was very popular.”

He added the Irish Car Bomb dessert a year or so after he opened Sidestreet Burgers. “i’ve been selling it for six years,and people love it. It’s a big hunk of bread pudding. It’s not like your average bread pudding. It’s not soggy or anything like that. It’s got this amazing flavor to it. We make a little praline-like caramel sauce and hit it with some Irish whisky and finish it off with a little cream.”

Mah makes his bread pudding with French bread. “I dry it out and that’s my base.”

He used to offer other desserts at Sidestreet Burgers. “Over the years, I had some other chefs who worked with me and we would rotate that dessert menu quite a bit.”

Now, the Irish Car Bomb is the only dessert offered at his restaurant. “Occasionally, maybe once a year, I’ve done white chocolate and mixed-berry pudding. And that’s cool. Every once in a while I’ve made that praline sauce with bacon.”

Any way you look at it, this dessert is the bomb.

Note: Call the restaurant to make sure they haven’t run out of Irish Car Bombs that day. “We can sell all of them pretty quickly.”

Sidestreet Burgers is at 9199 MS-178 in Olive Branch; 901-596-4749





Thursday, April 19, 2018

Parade Kicks Off Hot Wing Festival

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 2:36 PM

Southern Hot Wing Festival - FRANK CHIN
  • Frank Chin
  • Southern Hot Wing Festival


A parade will open this year's Southern Hot Wing Festival, starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21st. The festival is in a new venue this year, Tiger Lane — a perfect setting for strutting hens.

A featured music act will be the Memphis Second Line Band.

"We're taking liberties with the song 'When the Saints Go Marching In' and changing it to 'When the Hens Go Marching In,'" says festival founder Paul Gagliano. "We plan to have a bunch of chickens released to follow the band as the procession begins. We think this festival is definitely going to be one to crow about."

Gagliano says he's recruited seven prize hens and one rooster for the parade. There will also be a number of beauty pageant title holders, belly dancers, a vintage Cadillac, the party wagon Sprock n Roll, and a horse and carriage carrying the winners of the 2017 contest, New Wing Order.

The festival begins at 11 a.m. Anyone who arrives to be in the parade gains free entrance to the festival.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Return of Sleep Out Louie's

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 11:56 AM

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The beloved bar Sleep Out Louie's, known for its framed ties and goldfish races, is returning downtown in a few weeks.

And with that return come the framed ties and, of course, Louie — with an updated story.

The original story goes that Sleep Out Louie was a lawyer who quit his job and his tie and his wing tip shoes. He preferred the outdoors, traveling, and, when in Memphis, hanging out along the banks of the Mississippi.

Now Louie is back, freshly divorced and out of rehab (it didn't stick) and ready to check out all the new stuff in Memphis, a revitalized South Main, the Grizzlies, and ServiceMaster.

"He was made a deal he couldn't refuse," says marketing coordinator Molly Prather of the Sleep Out Louie character starting a new place.

It was the arrival of ServiceMaster that lured Louie's back. Belz Corporation reached out to Preston Lamm and Jim LoSapio to create a place for the new ServiceMaster employees at 150 Peabody Place, which was formerly Jose Gutierrez' Encore and is next to Texas de Brazil.
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The space is long and skinny with seating for about 140. There's a cool curved bar in the back, ready for a hopping happy hour. The famous framed ties will go on a back wall.

Belz wanted a place with a decent price point and quick ticket times. A back entrance of Sleep Out Louie's connects directly to ServiceMaster.

The menu is much smaller, freshened up, says part owner Christina Knapp. There's more seafood, including oysters in nine preparations. There are loads of sandwiches like the Pabst Blue Reuben with PBRkraut (!), cheesesteak, and shrimp loaf. At some point, they will be bringing back the bar's popular weekend brunch (but not the goldfish races). They are hoping to incorporate alley parties at some point.

The bar will offer handcrafted cocktails and prosecco on tap.

The key to Louie's was its off-work attitude. Some of his best known quotes: "In this on again, off again world, it's great to be off again," "'Twas a brave man that first ate an oyster," and "I only lied when I had to; and I had to." Back in the day, folks brought in their ties on special occasions, a new job, a big account landed. Some of the regulars are already clamoring to bring their ties in for the new place.

"Louie is more of an idea than a person," says Prather. "People can relate. They get to loosen their tie, get a cocktail, some oysters, and shrug off the day."



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Something cool is happening downtown

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 11:31 AM

Amanda and David Krog and Gabe Velasquez are making things happen in downtown Memphis. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Amanda and David Krog and Gabe Velasquez are making things happen in downtown Memphis.

Gabe Velasquez and Amanda and David Krog have joined forces to transform a 11,145-square-foot, two-story building at 64 South Main into a “one stop shop for people contributing to Memphis’s growth,” Velasquez said.

It will include a boutique health and wellness center, which will feature a restaurant serving healthy food owned by Amanda Krog. A penthouse restaurant owned by chef David Krog is slated to open in a year. The building also will include space for other occupants.

Velasquez, who owns the building, said the health and fitness center will include a nutritionist, physiologist, certified dietician, gym, classes and other services geared toward active professionals.


The health food restaurant, which is slated to be called “Counter 64” and will serve salads, sandwiches, and other items “with the emphasis on local and healthy,” Amanda said. “I want to focus on eating from all the five food groups like we’re supposed to. It will be healthy fast food. Even if it’s blended in a smoothie.”

The penthouse restaurant will serve “contemporary Southern food,” David said.

Each floor will feature works by local artists.

The public will be able to take a first peek at the first floor of the building at the inaugural “Gallery” art show and dinner, which will be held April 28th. The art shows/pop-up dinners, which will be held weekly for the next six to eight months, will feature local artists and multi-course meals with wines prepared by David, former executive chef at Interim restaurant who has worked with chefs, including Erling Jensen. He also opened the old Madidi restaurant, which was owned by actor Morgan Freeman.

During the art show/dinners, guests will dine on 12-foot-by-42-inch tables made of wood taken from the walls of the almost 80-year-old building, which housed a distribution plant for a pharmaceutical company in the 1940s.

Velasquez’s idea for buying and transforming the building was a way for his family “to contribute to Memphis’s growth.” His dad, Dr. Pedro Velasquez, an endocrinologist, owns a clinic and does research in Memphis. “My dad and my brothers are all in this. This is ours. Not just me.”

His family moved to Memphis from Venezuela in 1997 so Gabe’s younger brother, Pedro Velasquez Jr., could go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Velasquez Jr., a cancer survivor, now owns a management company and is dedicated to health care reform.

Gabe, who now operates a pharmacy, and David got to be friends at Interim, where Gabe used to eat three times a week. “We became friends from food,” David said.

Gabe bought the building at 64 South Main because he “saw definite growth” in the downtown area. “The energy is just magnetic on South Main,” he said.

He also noticed all the health-minded people living and working downtown, so he thought a health center, would be perfect.

Gabe invited David to do pop-up dinners at 64 South Main after he heard David quit Interim and was considering opening a restaurant with Amanda in East Memphis. David felt he could continue to “keep his brand going” at the new space.

“When he quit his job we knew we were going to do something together,” Amanda said.

When the health boutique and restaurant open on the first floor, the pop-up dinners will move to the second floor. When the penthouse restaurant opens, the second floor will become an office space for young entrepreneurs.

The 20-seat restaurant with no menu will be a “chef’s counter restaurant,” David said. “No tables. Everyone sitting at the counter, which surrounds the kitchen literally four-feet away from us. Chefs behind the counter will be serving you.”

As for the food, David said, “We are hyper local. The farmers seek me and I seek them.”

The top floor will include an atrium and a glass enclosed wine cellar. Cigars also will be offered at the restaurant.

In addition to the pop-up dinners at the art shows, David will continue to prepare food at fundraisers and at private homes.

His “Farm Feast,” which was postponed April 14th, will take place June 2nd at Rose Creek Farm in Selmer, Tenn.



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