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Shop 'Til You Eat

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The new open-air malls -- the Avenue at Carriage Crossing in Collierville and the Southaven Towne Center in Southaven, Mississippi -- are not open-air malls. They are, in developer lingo, "Lifestyle Centers." And, as in life, not everything always goes as planned.

On October 19th, the Avenue at Carriage Crossing opened with 25 specialty shops, but most of the Carriage Crossing's restaurants were not ready. Some set up lunch trucks or tents and tables to serve patrons during the Carriage Crossing's opening-week festivities.

Carrabba's Fine Italian Grill was the first to open on November 7th. Carrab-ba's is part of the Outback Steakhouse Company's group of restaurants and serves steaks and specialty pasta dishes. The first Carrabba's in the area opened in East Memphis in June. For now, the Carriage Crossing Carrabba's will only serve dinner. Hours will expand to include lunch sometime around Thanksgiving.

Another Outback Company restaurant, Bonefish Grill, is set to open on December 5th. The restaurant, which specializes in fresh-grilled fish, is hosting a charity dinner to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on Saturday, December 3rd.

Cheeburger Cheeburger is a '50s-style, rock-and-roll-themed soda shop with a menu that includes the "Famous Pounder," a whopping 20-ounce burger. According to general manager Richard Ernst, Cheeburger Cheeburger's original opening date was the same as the Carriage Crossing's, October 19th, but due to construction delays is now slated for late November to mid-December.

Chris Sumner, franchisee of the Memphis-area Blue Coast Burrito, was serving burritos through the window of a rented sandwich truck on Carriage Crossing's opening day. Just across the parking lot, painted sheets of plywood covered the windows of his newest location, which he expects to have open by December 1st.

Sumner says that Blue Coast isn't really behind schedule; they simply made a commitment to lease the space later than other restaurants. Blue Coast Burrito's other Memphis location is on Walker across from Tiger Bookstore.

At the Southaven Towne Center, Logan's Steakhouse is the only restaurant to have opened its doors after the shopping center's debut on October 9th.

"It's standard in the retail-development industry for the major thrust to be opening the retail stores first, then the restaurants and peripheral businesses come later," says Deborah Cary Gibb, marketing director for CBL Properties of Chattanooga, the developer of Southaven Towne Center.

Smokey Bones BBQ and Grill, Red Lobster, and the Olive Garden are scheduled to be in business at the Towne Center before the holidays. The Olive Garden is opening first on November 21st.

Although dates have not been confirmed, Towne Center will also feature a Lone Star Steakhouse and a Fox & Hound English Tavern, which will be its first Mississippi location.

On Sunday, November 13th, from 1 to 4:30 p.m., the Memphis chapter of the American Culinary Federation is hosting the Great Chef's Tasting Party, a benefit for United Cerebral Palsy of the Mid-South. Just a few of the more than 25 participating venues include Grill 83, Paulette's, Three Oaks Grill, LoLo's Table, and Cafe 61.

The event is being held at the Memphis Marriott East, located at 2625 Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Tickets for the Great Chef's Tasting Party are $25 (children under 6 free) and can be bought at the door or by calling 761-4277.

Capriccio Grill at The Peabody hotel unveiled a new menu in October.

In addition to increasing portion sizes of some of the most popular dishes, Chef de Cuisine Jeffrey Quasha created a few new menu items, such as the Insalata Mista and a dish of sautéed mussels in tomato broth. There are two new pizzas, a Venetian seafood stew, and the Veal Chop Milanese, plus an updated pasta menu with made-to-order lasagna and a Cappellini D'Angelo, seared shrimp served with angel-hair pasta and a light wine-based garlic sauce.

Capriccio Grill, 149 Union (529-4199)

salexanderhill@gmail.com

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