Thursday, January 17, 2019

Midtown Donuts Opening February 1st

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 4:37 PM


Midtown Donuts, at the site of Donald's Donuts, is set to open February 1st, according to owner Ly Touch.

Touch's family runs Howard's Donuts on Summer, but Touch says that Midtown Donut will offer more than Howard's Donuts.

Touch says that Midtown Donuts will offer the same donut menu as Howard's Donuts, but also offer breakfast sandwiches, salads and sandwiches for lunch. There will also be iced coffee drinks as well.

The space will offer outdoor seating. The inside looks similar to Donald's. There's definitely more seating.

Midtown Donuts will be open from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rizzo's Closing (temporarily) for Repairs

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 1:55 PM

Obsidian PR
  • Obsidian PR

Rizzo's on South Main will close for about a month for repairs. The last service will be Sunday (January 20th) brunch.

A tree growing into the north wall of the restaurant's building necessitated the repairs to the wall and the floor.

But, Rizzo's will go on in a series of pop-ups.

The first pop-up is at Fuel, Friday-Saturday, January 25th-26th. Rizzo's Michael Patrick says that he hopes to do a vegan or vegetarian dish or two, "As a nod to Fuel and as a thank you."

Fuel closed in late December, though it still runs its food truck and catering operations. In Fuel's announcement of its closing, they stated that they wanted to host pop-ups.

After Fuel, Rizzo's will move on to the 409 Main food hall. This pop-up will run from January 29th through February 21st.

Patrick says that one of the reasons he's doing the pop-ups is to keep his valued staff close by and employed. "I have a great team," he says. "I don't want to lose them."

Patrick has no set menu yet for the pop-up. He says to check his Facebook page for updates on that point. The pop-ups will be prixe fixe, $50 for three or four courses.

Patrick says the goal of the repairs is to make the restaurant safe. He's not planning any new, fancy bells and whistles.

Of the pop-ups, he says, "I encourage people to come see us." 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Westy's Expands into Midtown

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2019 at 11:35 AM


Having a late-night craving for some that famous Westy's hot fudge pie, but cannot — cannot! — put on shoes?

Well, you're in luck. Westy's has expanded into Midtown and is now offering delivery.

Westy's owner Jake Schorr says he recognized a transition in the restaurant industry and that meant delivery.

The restaurant, in the old Beeker's space at 1607 Madison near Pho Binh, has a small dine-in area and offers pick-up as well.

Schorr says Westy's Express will eventually offer the full Westy's menu as well as some additional items, including a package meal, such as country-fried steak with three vegetables, and a number of dessert items.

Westy's Express opens at 4 p.m., but will eventually be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Westy's is using its own drivers, but Schorr expects to sign up with Door Dash.

When asked why he's opened an second location, Schorr jokes, "I don't know better."

He says, "I wanted to expand our presence but I couldn't do that Downtown. That's how I looked at it."


Friday, January 4, 2019

Best Bets: Three Kings Epiphany Cake

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 3:07 PM

Three Kings cake for Epiphany - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Three Kings cake for Epiphany

I like to be the one to find the king in the “King Cake” during Lent. This is the green, yellow, and purple-frosted coffee-cake-like concoction, which sometimes is filled with cream cheese. It usually is decorated with Mardi Gras beads and other knick knacks. A little plastic baby, which symbolizes Jesus, is hidden in the cake.

Whoever is first to find the baby is supposed to buy the cake the next year. I just like the thrill of the hunt.

If you just can’t wait for the King Cakes to arrive, you can buy a “Rosca de Reyes,” also known as the “Three Kings” cake. It’s an Hispanic tradition for the feast of Epiphany. And it's another chance to find a plastic baby in a baker’s confectionery.

Kay Bakery, which also makes King Cakes, makes “Three Kings” cakes. This year, they’ll make about 400 cakes, says owner Queo Bautista.

The cake symbolizes the Three Wise Men. “When they brought gifts to Baby Jesus,” Bautista says.

A plastic baby is hidden in the cake, which symbolizes hiding Baby Jesus from King Herod. According to the Bible, Herod, who didn’t know where Jesus was, wanted to kill all baby boys who were born about the time Jesus was born to make sure he’d get rid of him. He was afraid Jesus was going to one day become the new ruler.

Unlike the fancy “King Cake,” the “Three Kings Cake” basically is “bread with some fruit on top,” Bautista says.

The sweet fruits on top of the cake are candied figs, cherries, and strips of green, yellow and red candied papaya, which symbolize the gifts the Kings brought Jesus. They were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Dollops of yellow sugar icing also adorn the top of the cake, which is made from a slightly sweet dough.

The cake is round to symbolize that “Jesus has no beginning and no end,” Bautista says.

In Mexico, the cake traditionally is served on Epiphany Sunday, which, this year, is January 6th. Children receive small gifts — “Not as big as Christmas” — to symbolize the gifts, which the kings brought Jesus. “Gifts to the new king.”

I love the subtle, sweet taste of the Epiphany Cake. And, to make things even sweeter, I instantly found the plastic baby. Unlike the little pink ones usually in a seated position in the King Cake, these babies are white and in a standing position. My editor said the baby looked like an “android.”

You can order Epiphany Cakes through January 5th  at Kay Bakery. Small, which serves 12, is $18; medium, which serves 20, is $25; and large, which serves 30, is $30.

Kay Bakery is at 667 Avon Road. Call: (901)-767-0780.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Details on Second Line's Day of Warmth

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 2:04 PM


On New Year's Day, the Second Line is serving breakfast for anyone in need.

Details below ...

For the second year in a row on New Years Day morning, Second Line Memphis will open its doors for breakfast to people who need a hot meal free of charge, from 9am to noon. They will serve breakfast, give free haircuts, and hand out coats to the guests alongside a team of volunteers and city officials.

MATA buses will have two pick up locations in midtown (Living Hope Church 815 North McLean) and downtown (The Carpenter’s House Room in the Inn 212 N Second Street Memphis) starting at 8:30AM (last shuttle at 11:30). Any mission group, ministry, etc. (who work with the homeless community) that would like to be involved that day should bring people to one of those locations. Anyone wanting to donate coats, jackets, socks, etc. can bring them to the Second Line now until the New Years Eve.

“Everyone deserves to feel special, to be given the basic dignity we all deserve. We want to be a part of spreading that kindness to others.” - Chef Kelly English

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ysaac Ramirez to leave The Gray Canary

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 4:56 PM

  • Michael Donahue
  • Ysaac Ramirez

Ysaac Ramirez will leave his post as chef de cuisine at The Gray Canary on Dec. 31.

Ramirez, 38, says he’s leaving to “pursue another opportunity and possibly open my own restaurant in Memphis, hopefully.”

When he was 15, Ramirez moved from California to Memphis, where he graduated from Bartlett High School and L’ecole Culinaire.

Nine years ago, he went to work for Jackson Kramer at Interim. He then began his long tenure at restaurants owned by Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman.

He was one of the opening cook at Hog & Hominy before becoming a pasta cook at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.

Ramirez then moved to North Carolina, where he worked for Colin Bedford at The Fearrington House Restaurant & Village. He then worked in the restaurant at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.

Rameriz was back working for Ticer and Hudman when he moved to New Orleans and helped open Josephine Estelle, where he was sous chef. He then became executive chef at the Ace Hotel in New Orleans.

After two years, he moved back to Memphis and helped open The Gray Canary, which opened Jan. 23, 2018.

When he opens his own restaurant, Ramirez would concentrate on Latin cuisine. “Going back to my heritage,” he says. “My dad is from Mexico. Just going back to my roots and incorporating not just Mexican cuisine, but various Latin-style cuisines. And dealing with a lot of seafood.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

PETA At It Again

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 11:44 AM

PETA, the animal advocacy group, is trying to start some shit, y'all.

The group recently posted a billboard on Summer depicting the three Wise Men. It reads, "Be Wise. Have Faith in Veganism."

Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks

The billboard was placed near two churches at Christmastime.

From PETA's press release:

"Going vegan is the perfect way to honor the Christmas message of peace on Earth and goodwill to all members of creation," says PETA Vice President Colleen O'Brien. "PETA is encouraging everyone to celebrate with compassion by choosing a delicious vegan roast for the holiday table."
That may be a tough sell in this city. But... but(!) ... in sorta related news, the newly elected Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris held a VEGAN BARBECUE on Wednesday for staff and media as part of a kick off for his "Health and Fitness Initiative." 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Vault Unlocks New Menu

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 1:30 PM

Zane Wilson, Aaron Winters and Zane Wilson in the kitchen at The Vault - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Zane Wilson, Aaron Winters and Zane Wilson in the kitchen at The Vault

Ring out the old “The Vault on G. E. Patterson” and ring in “The Vault Gastropub.”

Beginning Dec. 31, “Gastropub” will replace “G. E. Patterson” in the name of the restaurant at 124 G. E. Patterson Avenue.

But that’s not all that’s happening.

“New year, new menu, kind of a new branding,” says The Vault’s executive chef/owner Aaron Winters. “We’re freshening up South Main a little.”

Or, as he says, “We’re having a little transition at The Vault. We’re going to have new hours, new menus for the lunch, dinner and the bar menu. And just changing up a lot of the dishes. We’re going to keep a lot of the favorites, but have a lot of vegetarian options and more small plates.”

The favorites will include the Smashburger. “It’s an Oklahoma style burger. It’s a ball of meat. You smash it on the grill, cover it with thinly-shaved onions, press the onions into the meat. We sell a ton of them.”

The Smashburger recently was featured on Late Night Eats on the Cooking Channel.

“For dinner, we’re keeping our Steak Frites - sous-vide ribeye with compound butter and string French fries.”

New items will include salt and pepper catfish. “We do a buttermilk pickle and hot sauce brine and it’s fried with corn meal that has roasted peppercorn and sea salt in it. And it’s served with green onion ranch.we make in house.”

Another is the charred beet salad - roasted beets with goat cheese, arugula pesto and lemon with an arugula salad with candied pecans.

“The new menu is going to be active in the restaurant Jan. 4, which is a Friday. We’re open for dinner and lunch. Our hours are going to be changing Dec. 31. We’ll be open seven days a week.”

The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Gary Williams' Legacy

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2018 at 10:56 AM

Sad news today. Gary Williams of DeJaVu has passed away.

Williams was a gentleman in the truest sense. He was kind and helpful. There was never an unreturned phone call. He was all positive vibes. When news came out that his restaurant DeJaVu on S. Main was closed, he said, "You know me, I'll be back." And he was. He reopened the restaurant in its original location on Florida earlier this year.

Williams has left a legacy of enthusiasm and good cooking, of being there when folks needed a little support. He will be missed.

In 2016, Williams wrote an essay for Memphis magazine about what it means to serve the community. A snippet is below, but the whole thing is worth reading.
I began my career like many chefs, learning from my mentors and developing the dream of one day owning my own restaurant. I didn’t have much growing up in New Orleans, but my life was abundant in love and support from my family and friends. I try to put a little of that magic in all that I do. Love and support goes a long way with people. It just so happens that I was blessed with the opportunity to own my own restaurants and catering services throughout the years. This career has allowed me to travel all over the country meeting athletes, celebrities, politicians, and travelers from all over the world. It also gave me the privilege to work with many young people side by side helping them grow into the wonderful people they have become or one day will be.

That is what this business is about: people, not just those who come in to enjoy the food and experience, but also the people that help make those magical moments happen. Many of us in this business spend more time at the restaurant than we do at home, so we’re a lot like family. There are so many different types of people in this business that I have had the pleasure of working with. You have college students, young professionals, career servers, and cooks, all bringing their personalities to this business. Everyone pulls together in the busy times with the sole focus of taking care of the guests that we are so blessed to have come into the restaurant. At the end of the day, we know we may have made a couple of mistakes but we did our best to make sure that our guests left happy.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Locally-made Delta Sunshine beer hits Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 3:37 PM

Nate Carter, Todd Paden and Allison "Sunny' Higi of Delta Sunshine Brewery.
  • Nate Carter, Todd Paden and Allison "Sunny' Higi of Delta Sunshine Brewery.

Meet Delta Sunshine — a new line of locally brewed beers, which recently hit the Memphis restaurant/bar scene.

“We just launched here in Memphis and we’re getting ready to go in some other markets soon,” says Todd Paden, founder and president of Delta Sunshine Brewing Co. The beer is designed for craft beer drinkers as well as “people who might not necessarily be a craft beer drinker all the time. It’s a beer that’s locally made that meets what they’re looking for in terms of a great, well-made, sessionable beer.”

For now, the beer, which is being sold through Athens Distributing Co., will be served on draft in restaurants and bars. “We wanted these beers to complement what restaurants do. (They) have some good body and flavor going on. And won’t take away from the great food that these people are creating in restaurants around town.”

Later, they will go into retail, but “it’s on down the road quite a ways."

Paden’s family is from the Mississippi Delta, hence the name “Delta Sunshine,” he says. “The sunshine — the sunrises and sunsets — are some of the best in the world.”

The first three beers they’ve introduced are Hwy 61, Toll Booth Amber, and Room 414 Pale Ale.

Hwy. 61 is for beer drinkers who “want a nice, easy, clean, pilsner/lager beer.”

Toll Booth Amber is “more of a malt-based beer. We used five malts and three hops in it. So, what that creates is a nice coffee/based, bread, biscuity-type aroma when you’re smelling it. And it finishes nice and clean based on the hops that we used.”

Room 414 Pale Ale is “for the beer drinkers that like a hoppier beer. The hops that we chose build and have a nice floral aroma.”

It “finishes clean,” And it’s a hoppy beer that people can “enjoy more than one.”

Where did “Room 414” come from? “That’s the room that Robert Johnson recorded his first album in in Texas.”

The Delta blues figure as much as “sunshine” in their beer. Delta Sunshine Brewing will promote, support, and embrace blues artists from the Mississippi Delta. The brewery is committed to supporting groups that provide support and education to children in the Mississippi Delta area.

For now, Delta Sunshine beers are being brewed at City Brewery, the “old Coors, Schlitz plant on Raines Road.”

Brewers, he says, “can come in and use their equipment, basically. It’s state of the art. The best equipment you could possibly work with.”

Allison “Sunny” Higi, their brewmaster, “has her degree in biochemistry from Purdue. She was a scientist first.”

Paden grew up in the bar/restaurant business. His dad, Bill Paden, opened the original High Cotton on Cooper, South of Union. “My partner, Nate Carter, and I have spent every day since college in some kind of food service sales. We know restaurants really well and are able to go in and work with staff and talk to the customers.”

Delta Sunshine beer now is available at Central BBQ - Downtown, Local on the Square and Local on Main, The Green Beetle, Bardog Tavern, Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Slider Inn, Venice Kitchen, B. B. King’s Blues Club & Grill, Raffe’s Deli, Lucchesi’s Beer Garden, Young Avenue Deli, Amerigo Italian Restaurant, and The Casual Pint.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Crosstown, Memphis Made Will Brew Resilience IPA

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2018 at 1:46 PM

I heard about this fund-raiser on the radio yesterday, so it's pretty cool to see that Crosstown Brewing is picking it up.

Sierra Nevada is brewing Resilience IPA as a fund-raiser for the California Camp Fire relief effort, donating 100 percent of beer sales. In addition, they've asked brewers to join them and have gathered malt, hop, and yeast donations as well to help. So far, more than 1,000 breweries have stepped up.

From the release:

In our first year at Crosstown Brewing Company, we’ve learned a lot about the impact that breweries can have on our communities. We’ve been thrilled to see local groups and charities use our space and our products to make this city a better place. When we saw that one of the largest and oldest craft breweries in the United States, Sierra Nevada, was taking steps to bring the American brewing community together to help the victims of the California fires, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. We will brew Resilience IPA and serve the beer in our taproom in the coming weeks. All proceeds will go directly to Camp Fire relief efforts in Butte County, California. So far, more than 1,000 breweries nationwide have heard the call and are taking action. Helping the victims of this tragedy reminds us that we can help people in any part of the world and reinforces the strong bonds and generosity that attracted us to the brewing community in the first place. Please join us in showing the people of California that they have friends here in Memphis, Tennessee.
UPDATE: Memphis Made announced yesterday they will brew a 10-barrel batch of Resilience IPA. The beer will be available in the taproom by the middle of next month, Memphis Made said on Facebook, "with 100% of the proceeds going to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund."

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Best Bets: Mortimer's gumbo

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 2:43 PM

Gumbo at Mortimer's Restaurant - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Gumbo at Mortimer's Restaurant

I was in the mood for something hearty, so I ordered a bowl of gumbo at Mortimer’s Restaurant. I’d eaten gumbo there before, but, this time, after I took a bite I verbally exclaimed how great it was. It had a kick to it. I’ve always liked the taste, but this added zip was wonderful.

After I made my announcement, I noticed the people on either side of me suddenly ordered it, too.

I asked owner Christopher Jamieson what was up with the gumbo.

“We’ve been selling gumbo since 1981,” he says. “We’ve built on the same foundation or the same base gumbo, but it’s evolved into what it is now.”

The gumbo includes smoked oysters, clams, shrimp, and sausage.

Former kitchen manager Larry Smith “started tinkering with it and re-did it.”

But that’s not where the additional spiciness came from. The gumbo recipe, which is “two pages long," already has “about 40, 50 things in it,” Jamieson says. Assistant kitchen manager Kevin Sykes accidentally substituted an ingredient for another ingredient. Hence the tangy taste.“He was putting crawfish seasoning in it,” Jamieson says. “He thought it was cayenne.”

It was crawfish seasoning or crawfish boil, which, accidentally, was put into the tub where the cayenne was kept. The crawfish boil is “a whole blend of a bunch of different spices,” Jamieson says.

“People have said something’s a little different and I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time ‘cause, with Larry, I wrote down exactly all the measurements and typed it all up for Kevin.”

People kept saying they liked it. And they said, “It’s got more flavor to it.”

“This past season I ordered some extra crawfish boil from my vendor,” Jamieson says.

He served the gumbo at the recent Spirit of SRVS event at the Memphis Hilton.

Jamieson and his wife, Ashley, transported the gumbo in their car. It took him about two weeks to get the smell of gumbo out of their car, he says. “And I didn’t even spill. Just it being in the air getting from my car to the Hilton.”

Old Zinnie's Is Closed

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 1:48 PM

  • Justin Fox Burks

Is there a drink large enough to "pour one out" for Old Zinnie's?

The mainstay Midtown bar is set to close December 31st.

According to Adam Lafevor, owner Bill Baker's lawyer and onetime OZ bartender, "The lease is finally up. That's it — no fines, no violations, no hard feelings."

Lafevor said, "Old Zinnie's wants to say thank you to its loyal customers. We're sad to see everybody go."

Old Zinnie's opened in 1973.

The space is owned by the Barrasso family and Malkin Management.

Arthur Malkin of Malkin Management says he learned of Zinnie's closing at 1 p.m. via a faxed letter. He says the rent was not raised and he was not approached to renegotiate.  "Malkin Management worked with Zinnie's for years, and we just received notice from their attorney today (this afternoon) that they were closing their doors and cancelling their lease. We had no prior knowledge and are just as sad to see them go. They have been a great tenant and fulfilled all of their obligations over the years. My understanding from Zinnie's attorney (we spoke today) is that the ownership was simply ready to close and retire, end of story. They will be missed, and truly are irreplaceable. We love Memphis and have no influence over their decision to close. Anyone interested in carrying on the tradition is more than welcome to reach out to us or call. Warmest respect and regards to all of our fellow Memphians."

Malkin says he would be willing to talk to Baker about a new lease. He thinks that Baker may simply be ready to retire.

"He's an institution," says Malkin of Baker. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Lamplighter Now Serving Lunch

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 3:21 PM

The venerable bar in Midtown, The Lamplighter, launched its lunch service over the weekend during a festival

"That was nice," says Laurel Cannito, who is a partner in the business with Chuck "Vicious" Wenzler.

She notes that day Lamplighter is not like night Lamplighter. For one thing, it's kid-friendly and it's non-smoking before 8 p.m.

The pair, who took over last spring, say it's not as much about changing the Lamplighter as making it a little better. The kitchen and floors were redone, the whole place cleaned from top to bottom.

"It's the same but cleaner," jokes Cannito.

Cannito says her path was always to where she is now. She and Chuck are longtime friends, and her goal was to open a cafe or a food truck. In fact, she was saving for a food truck, when Ann Bradley, the owner, mentioned she was ready to retire.

Cannito and Wenzler consider the place community-supported.

As for the food, the favorites like the burger and the grilled cheese are still there. The menu isn't typical bar food, and they are still tweaking it. Cannito hopes to shape something that is vegan by default but doesn't have to be.

Right now it features the Hangover Helper, a Vegan sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit; sandwiches, tacos, bagels, chicken, and curries.

And, let's not forget the cheap beer.

Wenzler hopes to eventually add a window to the south, front-facing wall; Cannito a garden out back. "Really?" asks Wenzler to the news of the garden. "You'll have to water it."

Curry with tofu
  • Curry with tofu

Friday, November 16, 2018

Zopita's on the Square to open Nov. 19

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 5:24 PM

Zopita's on the Square opens Nov. 19 in Collierville. - ANNA PALAZOLA
  • Anna Palazola
  • Zopita's on the Square opens Nov. 19 in Collierville.

Zopita’s on the Square will open at 11 a.m. November 19th, says owner/operator Anna Palazola.

The new restaurant, which will feature Italian as well as other dishes, is at 114 North Main on the town square in Collierville.

The idea of the restaurant is for people to pick up food to take home or eat at the restaurant, which will have seating for 26 people.

The restaurant, named after Palazola’s Italian grandmother Anna Zopita, will feature a variety of food, including Italian. She’ll offer homemade pastas, soups, specialty sandwiches, salads and good coffee. And she will carry baked goods, including hot croissants, pastries, cookies and cakes.

“It’s exactly a year since we found the building,” Palazola says. “I fell in love with the building. It’s an old building. It used to be a bank. We have the vault in here. The vault is so massive it cannot be taken out.”

As for the decor, Palazola says, “I went for the industrial look. The chairs are metal.”

The tables, which she had made, are built of repurposed wood.

Zopita’s on the Square will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

They will hold a soft opening the first week. “We may not have the full menu,” Palazola says.

Zopita's on the Square - ANNA PALAZOLA
  • Anna Palazola
  • Zopita's on the Square
Zopita's on the Square - ANNA PALAZOLA
  • Anna Palazola
  • Zopita's on the Square


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