Last week, RDC director Benny Lendermon notified board members that restaurant operator Beale and Second Inc. "is no longer interested in pursuing the lease of the restaurant space at Beale Street Landing." Beale and Second consists of Bud Chittom, Kevin Kane, and Charlie Ryan, who also own Blues City Cafe on Beale Street. The group was the only one to respond to an RDC request for restaurant proposals.
"Based on this discovery, Beale and Second Inc. should cease and desist all actives (sic) on the Beale Street Landing premises other than specific catering services that RDC may contract with you to perform," the memo says.
"You should turn in the keys to the premises to our manager Jimmy Ogle. Any access to the premises to remove equipment or supplies belonging to you should be coordinated with Mr. Ogle. We are disappointed that this didn't work out but certainly understand that you have to protect your financial interests."
The $40 million-plus project is over budget and behind schedule. It is now supposed to open in 2014.
The restaurant had begun to take shape in April, with tables, chairs, a bar, and kitchen equipment being installed. But there have been persistent issues involving parking, access, trash in the river, and sharing Tom Lee Park with Memphis In May. The building now houses a gift shop in a space that appears to be somewhat larger than necessary.
Ryan said there were many "challenges, the main one being parking."
"The deal is off," he said.
Jim Holt, executive director of Memphis In May, said the festival could have coexisted with a restaurant in the landing, which he noted was part of the original plan several years ago.
"We had worked out a plan," he said.