Tamra Eddy grew up in the food business.
She helped her father wash dishes and iron linens for his restaurant. Her grandmother was a baker. Her other grandfather owned a barbecue restaurant.
When Eddy graduated high school, she went into the hairstyling business.
"I never wanted to cook, ever," Eddy says.
That all changed in November 2010.
"I woke up one morning and said, 'I don't want to do hair anymore. I want to cook,'" Eddy says.
Eddy became a pastry chef, worked as a food stylist for a television show, and cooked for "countless" celebrities, all of which took place in the Houston, Texas, area.
In January 2015, she left it all behind to move to Memphis and help a friend with ministry work, but along the way enough people tasted her cooking that someone wanted to get her in touch with a local entrepreneur.
"They knew somebody who owned a restaurant space and wanted somebody whose food stood out," Eddy says.
That person was Tommie Henderson, and the space was the former Yellow Rose in the Lincoln American Tower in Court Square.
On August 15th, the ground floor space will present itself to the world as Memphis Lighthouse.
"Through the fog of all the food choices in downtown Memphis, there is the Lighthouse," Henderson says with a smile.
Eddy, known as Chef Tam, will be serving up her distinct Cajun soul food fusion, something Henderson describes as a little lighter than your regular hearty meal.
"This is a place where you can get something hearty but not heavy," Henderson says.
Catfish tacos with crawfish, Memphis Dry Rub Salmon, Oxtailz, Brown Sugar Salmon, all entrees (or "Main Things") range from $12 to $21.
Starters such as Muddy Waters Mac and Cheese and Chicken and Waffle Sliderz start at $8 and top out at $12.
The former pastry chef also offers sweets such as her grandmother's Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with bourbon-soaked pecans — "They're soaked for like a week and become this sort of candied crust," Eddy says — Lemoncello Cheesecake, KeyLime Icebox Pie.
Eddy has published two cookbooks, including A Dance in the Kitchen with My Father, which includes recipes of the food she grew up eating at home, and Grandma's Hands — all of her grandmother's written recipes, and she is working on her third, The Baker, the Chef, and Me. All are published under the name T. Tamyra Eddy.
"My mom's crazy. She named me Tamra Tamyra," Eddy says.
She has her own spice line, which includes Fry Me Up Baby for all things fried, Reel Me In for all things seafood, and Black as Midnight, for blackening, all of which she uses in the restaurant.
Plans include setting up a bar this fall, a wifi station in the back with tall tables, a private space cordoned off with an aquarium, and enough space and tables to seat 170.
There's not too much interior work needed. The space was prepped and ready to go from 2010 when a New York-style deli renovated the space but never got off the ground.
"With the blue and white, it looks like a lighthouse," Henderson says. "When we put the initial furniture in here, I had no idea how big this space was."
They will also continue the tradition of serving up breakfast, lunch, and snacks to 226 charter school students in Memphis every day during the school year — Eddy has her own crew for that — but will add a new component to it.
"There will be a charter school moving in this building, and we want to offer them the opportunity to learn how to be an entrepreneur through the restaurant," Henderson says.
The perfect union of money and talent — Henderson and Eddy — wasn't an overnight thing.
Eddy worked for several months trying to get in touch with Henderson, even dropping by his office to leave him some food.
"He wasn't there, so somebody ate it," Eddy says.
A second try was all it took.
"He told me my flavor profiles were amazing, and the presentation was perfect," she says. "He said he absolutely wanted to do a restaurant with me."
Memphis Lighthouse opens Monday, August 15th, at 60 N. Main. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 310-5711.