Pyro’s Expands Its Brand. 

Wolf River Brisket

Justin Fox Burks

Wolf River Brisket

Chad Foreman and Kirk Cotham met while in grad school. They worked together at FedEx and later at Accredo Health Group. Foreman was in accounting, while Cotham worked in marketing. After being offered a buy-out from Accredo, they had to figure out what to do next. They wanted something practical, something that is used everyday. One of the things they considered was woodworking, specifically cabinetry. But then they settled — against the many warnings from their friends and family — on the restaurant industry.

One thing they liked about getting in the restaurant game was that, in Memphis, when it comes to restaurants, the little guy almost always beats the big guy. That is, nobody's messing with KFC when we've got Gus's. Why have Pizza Hut when Memphis Pizza Cafe is so much better?

They knew they wanted fast casual and they wanted multiple locations to make it work. As Cotham remembers it, "We were bringing something new to Memphis."

The first Pyro's, a build-your-own pizza restaurant, opened in East Memphis in 2013. There are now four locations in Memphis, with one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, opening soon.

And now they've expanded beyond pizza with Wolf River Brisket and Levee Creamery and Highland Creamery (coming soon).

How the newest concepts came about ... Well, Cotham and Foreman are both opportunists. Though that word makes them cringe, they admit it's true. So, there was a TCBY near Foreman's home. It was neither good nor bad, he says. "It was not an enjoyable experience," he says. Then he heard that the TCBY was looking to sell. Foreman had always felt like a coffee place would work there — an alternative to Starbucks (the little guy always beats the big guy, remember). They noticed how close schools were to the location. They had a vision of moms dropping off their kids and picking up coffee, people meeting up, after-dinner treats for the kids. There, they opened Levee Creamery.

click to enlarge food_wold_river_brisket_46a5846.jpg
click to enlarge food_wold_river_brisket_46a5797.jpg

It was a case of the real estate dictating the direction of the restaurant. And that is certainly true for the two Wolf River Brisket locations. A space opened in the same shopping center as Levee Creamery. For the second location, they found a spot in an old Mellow Mushroom in Olive Branch.

One thing that's flummoxed them about Pyro's is the impression that Pyro's is a chain. "We don't want to be viewed as carpetbaggers," says Foreman. They think the issue may be that the spaces are clean, the service and food is uniform. "If you're nice or stylish, you can't be from Memphis," ventures Cotham.

This is perhaps why the names for their ice cream spots focus on the site: Levee Creamery for Houston Levee and Highland Creamery for the street.

The creameries serve up hand-churned ice cream and French Truck coffees. They offer cake batter gelato, cookie doughs, waffle cones, and milkshakes. The Electric Fence Shake comes with two shots of espresso. There's also a cold espresso bar.

At Wolf River Brisket, they serve Texas-style brisket cooked in a Memphis manner — low and slow. They also serve burned ends. To those uninitiated, the burned ends are the fatty ends of the brisket that are cubed and smoked. At Wolf River, they cover it in sauce and smoke it again so it creates a caramelized bark. "It's the best of Texas and Kansas City," says Cotham.

Cotham and Foreman say they have a list of ideas, places they've encountered while traveling that they think would translate well in Memphis. But they aren't divulging what's in store.

Cotham spells out their business approach, "It's good for us; it's good for Memphis."

Related Locations

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

News Blog

City Removes Lime Scooters

Politics Beat Blog

Reminder: Early Voting Continuing Through Thursday, November 1

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Harlan T. Bobo

From My Seat

National Baseball Day

Tiger Blue

Missouri 65, Tigers 33

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Maul Hawks 131 - 117

News Blog

City Orders Lime Scooters Off the Streets

We Saw You

Science of Wine and more!

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Susan Ellis

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation