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BRIDGES presents an opportunity to dress to the hilt, dine in style, and dance the night away at the "Raise the Roof" gala October 23rd. The fund-raiser is the grand finale in a series of events to celebrate the opening of the new BRIDGES Center, 477 N. Fifth St. in North Memphis.

"We are within a block of where BRIDGES started in 1922," says Antoinette Cheney, associate director of development for the Memphis-based organization. "We're back home in an area that's growing by leaps and bounds."

Guests will be able to tour the 55,000-square-foot facility that was designed by architect Coleman Coker. The building features a 40-foot climbing wall and is made of recycled and environmentally friendly products.

"The building is part of MLGW's green energy program, ECO Build," says Cheney. "The carpeting is made of post-consumer recycled plastic. We have solar-heated water, and we used bamboo for much of the wood. It fit right into what we wanted to do."

The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with cocktails and appetizers, while guests bid on vacation packages, art by local artists, and other items donated for the event. A beef tenderloin dinner with all the accompaniments will be served around 8 p.m., followed by dessert and dancing to the Jim Johnson Orchestra until midnight.

"It's an opportunity to come and celebrate with BRIDGES, the opening of the kid-friendliest building in Memphis," Cheney says.

Folk's Folly restaurant is a sponsor of the event, though the food will be prepared by Another Road Side Attraction catering. BRIDGES is a nonprofit organization that offers leadership and job training to about 9,000 youth, ages 12 to 24. Tickets for the event are $125, or $1,000 for a table for eight. Call 452-5600 to purchase tickets.

In September, the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium launched its own straw poll, "Vote with Beer." The national program, sponsored by Samuel Adams, lets people vote by ordering a pint of beer served in a glass with a picture of Kerry or Bush.

Each glass purchased for $2.50 counts as one vote. The scores are tabulated daily and displayed in the restaurant.

"It's pretty strange how popular it's been," says manager Kirk Caliendo. "We ran out of glasses this week and sold IOUs, but we received another shipment and will have them in stock up to the election."

O Kypos' business has grown so rapidly in the first year that head chef and owner John Gegumis has hired two new sous chefs.

"We are the only traditional Greek restaurant in Memphis," says Gegumis. "We are growing. This is the time of year supposedly when the restaurant industry dies down. We have not felt that at all."

Michael White comes to O Kypos from Grisanti's restaurant where he was a sous chef for five years.

The second chef Gegumis hired is Arek Kayranski. Kayranski, who is originally from Poland, decided to stay in Memphis after completing a work-exchange program. Before coming to the United States, Kayranski owned a restaurant in Poland and taught at a culinary school.

Both chefs will be learning traditional Greek recipes that Gegumis, a Memphis native, acquired while living in Greece for six years.

"The menu comes from my family's restaurant in Greece," says Gegumis. "I brought the recipes with me to open my own restaurant. Arek is a natural, being from Europe, and Michael is just so dedicated to the cooking arts that he's very comfortable learning new recipes.

"We serve a large range of seafood -- lobster, steamed crab, or garlic shrimp -- and the traditional casseroles like moussaka or pastitsio," says Gegumis. "One of the biggest highlights on our menu is lamb. We have several ways we prepare it: roast lamb, lamb chops, and smoked lamb."

Kypos, which is Greek for "the garden," opened on the ground floor of the Comfort Inn at Front and Adams downtown in September 2003.

Smokey Bones, a barbecue chain, will celebrate the grand opening of its newest Memphis location October 19th on Hwy. 64 near Wolfchase. "The menu will have the same genuine barbecue, with a selection of American classics," says John Cotton, manager of the Winchester location. "It will have a different layout. It's more of a lodge setting with two big fireplaces." •

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