Friday, August 4, 2017

Voodoo Cafe: Beignets and Coffee on Wheels

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 12:27 PM

About five years ago, Faith and Mark Lansdon decided they would open a coffee shop. It would have a motorcycle theme.

But with the overhead of opening a shop over head and pressing down, they decided to scale their plans back and go with a food truck. And now a motorcycle-themed food truck didn't quite make sense.

Then the Lansdons took a trip to New Orleans. And, like everybody, they went to Cafe du Monde and, afterwards, their idea for their coffee shop food truck began to gel. The Voodoo Cafe food truck launched in early may.

The truck serves coffees from all over — Cuban, Turkish, Vietnamese iced, etc. And and and, they serve beignets shaped like voodoo dolls (!) in such flavors as Sweet Juju (named after a neighbor) with sweet cream and cinnamon, the Black Magic with Nutella, and the Muddy Zombie with peanut butter, chocolate, and caramel sauce.

Mark found an old ’50s delivery truck and refurbished it from top to bottom, putting solar panels on top so the truck gets only half its energy from generators. He taught himself how to make the coffees — this one needed to be boiled three times, that one needed to sit for 24 hours, etc.

Faith was in charge of the beignets and enlisted a (very lucky) friend to help with the flavors. They initially offered plain beignets with powdered sugar and chocolate and raspberry sauces on the side. The sauces weren't a hit, however. Then, Faith thought, "beignet sundae," and scoured her kitchen for what might work. One final bit of inspiration came with the red appetizer pick stuck in the middle of each beignet man. It's been a hit with those who like to play with their food.

Mark says he had to re-work some of the coffees for American tastes and for practical reasons (Cuban coffee is served in tiny cups). The Lansdons also figured out to keep the voodoo doll-shaped beignets voodoo doll-shaped while making them. It involves multiple steps and flash freezing. Leftover dough is made into little voodoo dolls and given as dog treats (they may sell them later).

The Voodoo Cafe logo is of a voodoo doll in a business suit. According to the Lansdons, it's their way of saying they stayed clear of the corporate world and they are sticking it to the man.

The Voodoo Cafe truck will be at Germantown Hardware on Saturday, 8 a.m. On most Sundays, they are at Walnut Grove and Houston Levee from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Best Bets: Elvis Cake

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 8:00 PM

Elvis Cake at Blink and Arcade Restaurant - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Elvis Cake at Blink and Arcade Restaurant

It’s time to get your Elvis on.

The 40th anniversary of the King’s death - Aug. 16, 1977 - is looming. The iconic entertainer will be revered with movies, photos, memories - and food.

The also iconic fried peanut butter and banana sandwich usually comes to mind when people think of Elvis’s favorite foods. Apparently, it also does for Melissa Williams and her son, Glaze Hardage. Using the sandwich as a jump start, they created the “Elvis” cake.

“He loved peanut butter and bananas,” Williams said. “We love banana cake. We love peanut butter frosting. And it was born.”

When it comes to creating, Williams, who is owner of Blink restaurant at Southern College of Optometry, said she’s “development” and Hardage, the catering manager, is “research.”

“I come up with an idea,” Hardage said. “I tell her, ‘Hey this sounds like a good idea.’ Then she works on making it a reality.”

They came up with the Elvis cake two years ago, Hardage said. “We were sitting there thinking about Elvis Week,” he said.. “Our banana cake is very popular. And our peanut butter icing is very popular. And we’re thinking, ‘Hmmm. What if we combine the two?’ And once we did, it was a hit.”

The Elvis cake is in rotation with their many other types of cakes at Blink, so you should call ahead to see if they have it that day.

The cake also is served at the Arcade restaurant. Jeffrey Zepatos, the restaurant’s general manager, said the Elvis cake now is available and it will continue to be during Elvis Week. “Every time we get it I can only keep it in stock a day, a day and a half at this point,” Zepatos said.

I stumbled upon the Elvis cake by accident one afternoon when I was eating lunch at the Arcade. I just wanted cake for dessert, so I’d have eaten anything. The restaurant happened to have the Elvis cake that day, so I ordered a hunka hunka of it.  I was blown away after the first bite. It’s so delicious. But then I also love the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, which Arcade regularly serves.

When I recently was at the Arcade, I noticed a man and his wife eating Elvis cake at another booth. I had to ask them what they thought.

“I love it,” said Abrann Harrison from Seattle. “It’s absolutely great. It’s fun. We had the Elvis sandwich at Graceland yesterday, but this is four times more intense. The flavor’s just outstanding.”

The cake was “sweet and peanut buttery and got that little banana in there," said his wife, Sharon. "It was great.”

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen at Blink, I asked Hardage what type of cake he orders for his birthday.

“The banana with the peanut butter frosting,” he said. “Just because it’s so good.”

And who makes it for him? “My mother, of course.”

That’s alright, Mama.

Blink is at Southern College of Optometry at 1245 Madison; (901) 722-3289

Arcade Restaurant is at 540 South Main; (901) 526-5757.

Elvis cake from Michael Donahue on Vimeo.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Crafts & Drafts, etc.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 2:35 PM


• A few years back, my niece had some time after whipping up a batch of Spam Musubi for a family gathering, so she crocheted everybody a hat. I about fell over because I have always wanted to be CRAFTSY. Always.

It's not meant to be, alas, but I find some comfort in the Funlolas and babycreeps of the world and the upcoming Crafts & Drafts.

Y'all know the drill: tons of local crafts (think soaps and jewelry and ceramics and food stuffs and stuff you never knew you needed) paired with local beer. A perfect match to be sure.

Happening November 11th in the Crosstown area. And vendor applications are now being accepted through August 15th.

* The Best Memphis Burger Fest is set to return October 7th, and this year will include a burger-bobbing contest. We have no idea what that is, but it sounds like good, messy fun. Star & Micey are set to perform.

UPDATE ON BURGER BOBBING: From a Burger Fest rep: "It's sort of like bobbing for apples - but in place of apples are inflatable burgers and instead of water, the burgers are submerged in ketchup."

• A new location of French Truck opened in the Crosstown Concourse a few weeks back, and now it's got its breakfast and toast menu up and running, served until 2 p.m. seven days a week.

(It's taken a long time for Memphis to catch up with toast, and before you scoff, read this, the greatest story on the toast trend ever told.)

Featured on the menu is a waffle sandwich with egg, prosciutto, and goat cheese; a sweet quinoa bowl with strawberries, ricotta, and candied hazelnuts; avocado toast; and the B.N.B. toast with bacon, Nutella, and basil.

French Truck in Crosstown is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• I'm pretty much an iced coffee freak, and one of the best I've ever had is the Thai Iced Coffee at the newly open Edge Alley.

The Thai iced coffee has both condensed milk and coconut milk, so this may have to be a special treat for me. Also indulgent is the biscuit-centered menu.
The biscuit was dense hearty thing, but oh-so-flaky and stuffed to perfection with egg, avocado, and cheese.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

* You know what is opened? Margaritas on Second across from the Peabody in the old Kooky Canuck space.

One word to sum it all up: colorful.
 •Some new folks are in charge of the Dixon's Park + Cherry.  Kristi and Kevin Bush of CFY Catering have taken over the spot from Acre's Wally Joe and Andrew Adams.

  • Justin Fox Burks
The Prosciutto and peach sandwich served on a croissant sounds dang good, as does the veggie sandwich with lemon hummus. Park + Cherry also a good selection of coffee drinks and I heard tale of a cookie-dough stuffed cookie sandwich.

• And and and, you can now buy sauce and rub at Williams-Sonoma created by BBQ master and all-around legend Melissa Cookston.

PLUS, UberEATS is now delivering Corky's.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Royal's Yvonne Mitchell Cooking Up Hits

Posted By on Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 1:00 PM


A couple things to know about Yvonne Mitchell, daughter of the legendary founder of Royal Studios Willie Mitchell: She can cook and she can cook for crowds.

"My mother always had musicians living with us," Mitchell explains, saying she recruited to help feed the masses when she was around 8 or 9.

So consider Mitchell prepared for Friday's "Rhythm on the River (Poppa Willie's Night)," the first in a trio of events in celebration of Royal's 60th anniversary. Mitchell will be cooking dinner for the crowd.

"I'm making salmon croquettes with a special sauce I made up. Chicken with mushroom gravy, rice and greens, black-eyed peas, homemade cornbread, lemon poundcake, peach cobbler, and a 150-year-old recipe for chow chow," Mitchell says.

Mitchell has worked for the studio for nearly 50 years, doing everything from being an administrator to doing copy writing to cleaning the machines and staging photo sessions for the musicians. She and her sister formed A&V Enterprises, and they worked with Ann Peebles and Hi Rhythm.

When Willie Mitchell passed away in 2010, the family had to regroup and figure out how best to serve the studio. They decided to make Boo Mitchell the face of the studio, with Yvonne providing a little TLC for the musicians.

Musicians often stay in the studio from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., says Mitchell. She would bring them her famous lemon pound cake and then feed them a proper Sunday dinner, so they would have some comfort food after days of burgers and barbecue.

She cooked for Bruno Mars, John Mayer, and Boz Scaggs. She cooked for Melissa Etheridge for seven days. She's catered the Memphis Music Hall of Fame inductions.

For the Rhythm on the River event, held at the studio, Don Bryant will perform with the Bo-Keys. It's Bryant's first time back to Royal since the 1960s.

As for Mitchell's 150-year-old chow chow recipe, it's her grandmother's, and she's getting the grandkids in on the act because she messed up her shoulder and needs help with all the chopping. She says they're doing pretty good.

So, does anyone ever cook for Mitchell? "Not really," she says. "My sister can't boil water."

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Burger Week!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 3:27 PM


Guys, I need you to do something for me. I hardly ever ask for anything. One (more!) of you HAS to go to Growler's and report back on their Memphis as Chuck burger. It's beef ground up with pulled pork topped with cheese sauce topped with pork rinds. Do it!

The Memphis as Chuck burger is just one offering from the 15 restaurants participating in Memphis Flyer Burger Week. All Burger Week burgers are $5!

Myself, I've got plans to meet friends at Huey's later in the week. For those of you out there burgering, make sure to check in with us on Instagram and Twitter @memphisflyer using #FlyerBurgerWeek. There will be prizes!

Burger Week runs through July 18th.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

French Truck Now Open in Crosstown

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 11:59 AM


French Truck Coffee
has opened in the Crosstown Concourse.

The new location in the Central Atrium offers a healthy selection of coffee drinks from Cafe Au Lait and Cappuccino to iced. They are now serving a few pastries like coffee cake and croissants.

The New Orlean-based coffee company teamed up with Jimmy Lewis' Relevant Roasters on Broad last year, merging operations under the name French Truck.

According to Lewis, French Truck will begin roasting at Crosstown as soon as they get all the necessary equipment. Visitors to Crosstown will be able to view the process through giant windows.

French Truck will also serve a full menu featuring breakfast and lunch in about two weeks.

Lewis says, "We've been vitally inspired by others, by that I mean Crosstown. We're just a little speck on this big screen."

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cold Brew Throwdown Friday!

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 1:51 PM

Competitors will be vying to make the best cold brew and non-alcoholic cold brew cocktail during the Cold Brew Throwdown this Friday, 6-9 p.m. at City + State.

Roasters are coming from from Louisville, Nashville, and Atlanta to flex their coffee muscles and to best roasters from Memphis.

A panel of judges will decide the winners, but there's a People's Choice Award as well.

There will be beer from Wiseacre, and El Mero and Say Cheese will be there as well.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bruster's Coming to Highland

Posted By on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 2:44 PM


Loeb Properties announced today that Bruster's Real Ice Cream will open a store on Highland Strip late this year.

From the release:

Bruce Reed, the “Bruce” in Bruster’s, created the Bruster’s Real Ice Cream brand in 1989 with a commitment to freshness and quality ingredients that remains today. They are known for premium, artisan, small batch ice cream made fresh daily in stores and served in a wide variety of innovative flavors. Bruster’s is made the old-fashioned way, from ingredients that are slow kettle processed and designed specifically to create the distinctive Bruster's flavor. It all starts with their proprietary home-style mix, delivered fresh from their dairy to each store, where small artisan batches are crafted daily by their Certified Ice Cream Makers.

At least 24 ice cream flavors are always ready to be enjoyed in crunchy, handmade waffle cones, sundaes, candy-filled blasts and thick milkshakes. Freezes, Italian ices, sherbets, sorbets and frozen yogurt, as well as fat-free and no-sugar-added treats, are also available. Cakes and pies are offered for every occasion, along with pints, quarts and half gallons.

There are nearly 200 independently operated Bruster’s locations in 20 U.S. states, South Korea and Guyana.
The new store will be at 571 Highland and will be 1,300 square feet.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman to open restaurant at Old Dominick Distillery

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:14 AM

Old Dominick Distillery
  • Old Dominick Distillery
Chef/restaurateurs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman will operate a restaurant in Old Dominick Distillery.
The restaurant, slated to open in late November or December, will be on the North side of the 50,000 square-foot facility at 305 South Front Street. Windows in the 100-year-old warehouse will overlook the Mississippi River.

Restaurant construction has begun and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Ticer and Hudman, owner of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Porcellino’s Craft Butcher, Catherine and Mary’s and Hog & Hominy, were finalists for this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards Best Chef Southeast. They were Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2013.

The chefs and beverage director Nick Talarico will cater a private dinner Friday June 23 at the distillery. Accompanying the menu for the dinner, created for the evening by Ticer and Hudman, will be craft cocktails made with Old Dominick vodkas and the award-winning Memphis Toddy.

The dinner will be held the night before the distillery’s “Memphis Spirit Returns” grand opening celebration, which will be open to the public. The event, which will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. June 24, will commemorate the 150th anniversary of when Old Dominick Whiskey and D. Canale settled on Front Street.

Jose Gutierrez from River Oaks, Felicia Willett from Felicia Suzanne, Kelly English from Restaurant Iris and Second Line and Patrick and Deni Reilly from Majestic Grille will prepare food for the June 24th event. Craft cocktails will be created by Memphis bartenders Brad Pitt from Germantown Performing Arts Centre, Miles Epley from Cafe Society, Daniel Lynn from South of Beale, Colby Jones from Catherine and Mary’s and Dan Price, creator of Undercurrent Memphis.

Tickets are $30 per person and are available at

Old Dominick Distillery opened May 1. “We’re in distribution at all your favorite local liquor and wine shops and your favorite bar,” said Old Dominick director of sales Clark Schifani.

Monday, June 19, 2017

UberEats Now Delivering McDonald's

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 12:44 PM


McDonald's has partnered with UberEats for what they're calling  McDelivery.

This is a relatively new development. UberEats launched a pilot program in Florida and then rolled it out to other cities such as LA, New York, and Chicago.

UberEats will deliver from 30 area McDonald's restaurants and will cover Midtown, East Memphis, the airport area, and some of Germantown.

The entire menu will be available, save for soft serve ice cream, and there's no minimum delivery. Folks have ordered just a coffee, a rep tells me.

They envision people ordering late-night, and busy families having dinner brought to them. They see deliveries being made to Little League games or to a park. They think the all-day breakfast promises to be a hit.

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Wahlburgers Opening on Beale

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 10:59 AM

  • Nicoletta Amato Photography

Announced this morning: Wahlburgers, the burger place run by chef Paul Wahlberg and celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie, will open at 349 Beale this fall.

From the release:

“We recognize just how lucky we are to bring Wahlburgers to Beale Street, the most iconic street in America where legendary artists have performed for decades,” said Mark Wahlberg. “We look forward to opening our doors and contributing in our own way to that rich history.”

Wahlburgers Memphis will boast 6,900 square feet over two floors and feature a wide selection of creative burgers as well as sandwiches, salads, vegetarian options, and home-style side dishes, such as Tater Tots, Mac N’ Cheese with Smoked Bacon, and Alma’s Classic Macaroni Salad. All burgers are made with a proprietary blend of beef, ground fresh, and topped with house-made condiments – 15 in total, including Chef Paul’s signature Wahl sauce, dill pickles, honey-garlic mayo, butternut squash, tomato jam, avocado spread, and more.

At Wahlburgers Memphis, guests will be able to choose to sit down and enjoy full table service, order quick-serve style at the counter, or grab take-out. A full-service bar with wide screen TVs will offer a wide selection of wine and beer, specialty cocktails, and an assortment of adult frappes.
Wahlburgers will occupy the space that was to be Sweetie Pies before that deal went kaput.

  • Eric Luciano of SOUSA design Architects

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Curb Market Opens Quietly in Crosstown

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 4:33 PM


The new Curb Market opened today in the Crosstown Concourse. The space at 9,000 square feet is over three times the size of the old Cooper market at 2,200 square feet.

Owner Peter Schutt says the old building didn't have the floor space to facilitate a simple truth about most shoppers: they prefer one-stop shopping.

So, in addition to all the local goods Curb is know for (Judy's Pound Cakes, Dr. Bean Coffee, loads of local produce, Crazy Good items, and on and on), they now carry dry and can goods. But it's a carefully curated selection of dry and can goods — lines like Amy's and Amish and European butters, and organic and whole grain goods.

They also have a salad bar and a hot-food bar.

Schutt says once they get the kinks ironed out of the operation, they'll have a proper grand opening and start having classes.

One thing Schutt says is notable about the new Curb Market is its meat counter, which features local meats and corned beef and pastrami and bacon.

"It's the finest butcher between Nashville and St. Louis," he says.

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Is Meddlesome's 201 Hoplar in Bad Taste?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 11:29 AM

Y'all Meddlesome Brewing is opening in Cordova on June 30th, and among their their offerings will be an IPA called 201 Hoplar.

And, well, there's been some mixed reaction ...
Does the name cross the line? Or is it cheeky in a Rockbone sort of way? Where do you stand?

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Best Bets: Brisket

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 4:04 PM

Barbecued brisket at Stanley Bar B Que - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Barbecued brisket at Stanley Bar B Que

I watched David Scott Walker prepare a brisket at the recent Memphis in May World Championship
Barbecue Cooking Contest. I wasn’t able to return 13 hours later to taste the finished product, but Walker told me the preparation and the cooking process was about the same as the way it’s done at his restaurant, Stanley Bar B Que in Overton Square.

Well, the restaurant version brought back memories of that smoky-meaty aroma and all the fun on the banks of the Mississippi River about a month ago. Except this time, I could linger over my meal at one of the long wooden tables inside Walker’s air-conditioned restaurant.

His brisket is cooked in the “hill country” style, Walker said. Ninety percent of his family lives in Texas, so they visited several cities there on summer vacations when he was growing up. “For the most part it’s salt and pepper and then you rely on A - having real good meat. And B - having real good wood. Those are the two flavor components. You really don’t want to add too much in your rub. A little paprika, whatever, that’s fine. But it’s mainly salt and pepper. And you let the meat and the wood shine through. That’s what we do on the river.”

You almost could cut Walker’s brisket with a feather. I asked him how he cooked it.

“We do it the right way,” he said. “We’ll start off in the morning with a charcoal chimney and let the creosote of the charcoal burn off. And then the rest of the day it’s nothing but wood. Depending on what meats we’re cooking depends on what kind of wood we’re using.”

With brisket, they start with cherry wood, Walker said. “That helps get a good smoke ring around it. Then we move to a fruitwood. We love peach. We love apple. Really love pear, but pear’s tough to get. Then after a few hours of that we switch over to hickory.”

Final cooking stage is to wrap the meat in parchment and plastic wrap and let it cook for 12 to 16 hours depending on the size of the brisket.

Walker learned how to grill growing up in Raleigh-Bartlett. “It was a really close-knit neighborhood. We had block parties all the time. We’d do Fourth of July parties. All kinds of things. Fireworks. But we were always grilling, whether it be barbecue or just straight-up grill - hot dogs, hamburgers. We built a pool so we were the house that everyone came to. So, I think that’s where it all started.”

I asked how popular his brisket was at the restaurant. “The pork is, obviously, king of Memphis, but there are a lot of people who really do love brisket. And you can’t really find it in a lot of places. And if you do find it, hopefully, it’s done right.

“If you’ve never had really good smoked beef, I think you’re missing out. A lot of people - especially around this area - when they visit Texas they’ll diss the barbecue. It’s mainly because they’ll try some pork barbecue in Texas. Which is their first mistake. Get what they do right. Go to Texas. Try some beef barbecue. Get their beef ribs. Get their brisket. And I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Walker originally opened his restaurant as a German restaurant, Schweinehaus, but switched to the barbecue format last April. People constantly told him they wanted a barbecue restaurant in Overton Square, he said. “They missed the Public Eye. They missed that something they’re familiar with. This town loves barbecue and we grew up doing it. So, we said, ‘Let’s follow our passion.’”

And, he said, “My father passed away at Christmastime. And he was a big barbecue guy.”

His dad was the one who did most of that grilling when they were growing up. “His name was ‘Stanley.’ Hence the name. I hope he’s smiling down on us. I hope he’s proud.”

Stanley Bar B Que is at 2110 Madison in Overton Square; (901) 347-3060

Brisket - Walker style from Michael Donahue on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Cottage Becoming Thai Cottage

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 11:11 AM

  • The Cottage, Facebook

The Cottage restaurant soon will be known as “Thai Cottage.” Owner Lisa Prewett sold the restaurant at 4085 Summer to Tom and Tanatip Tongumpun of Collierville.

The restaurant, which opened 60 years ago, will continue to serve home cooking at breakfast and lunch. At night, the menu will change to Thai and Chinese food. Karaoke also will be featured.

In 2014, The Cottage moved from its long-time former location at 3297 Summer to the present location. “ I’ve had it since 2012,” Prewett said. “My dad, Billy Franks, had it from 2009 to 2012. I just wanted a boutique for a couple of years. I was trying to get out of the restaurant and, finally, someone wanted it.”

The Tongumpuns are excited about their new restaurant venture. “We’re going to switch over on June 15,” Tom said. “Then I’m going to start opening in the evening on July 1st.”

Tom will do the cooking at night. “This is my first restaurant, but I used to work in the food business in Johnson City, Tenn. I’ve been wanting to get The Cottage for the longest. That’s what I wanted. I don’t know why. But I’ve been wanting to own it. It took 10 years.”

Tom, who retired from teaching three years ago after working 25 years, taught math in the Shelby County School system. He taught at Humes Middle School and Cordova Middle School.

His wife is going to bring some appetizers to the restaurant before the change-over, Tom said. “She wants the customers to have some of the taste of Thai.”

Prewett and her daughter are opening the boutique, “Lisa Morgan,” which will feature women’s and some men’s clothing as well as accessories. Opening date is slated for July 28, but Prewett said they’ll probably open sooner.

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