Try to keep up: Scott Lenhart has left his position as chef de cuisine at Dish. In his place, you'll find Scott McQueen, who has worked at Karen Blockman Carrier's Automatic Slim's for the past five years. Dish's front-of-the-house team, Chris Garcia and Audra Evans, will slowly take over the general managing duties from David Nestler, who, in turn, will take charge of Jimmy Ishii's latest venue EP - Delta Kitchen and Bar at the site of the former Elvis Presley's Memphis restaurant at 126 Beale.
Closed since 2003, Elvis Presley's Memphis, which was operated by Elvis Presley Enterprises, was a popular gathering spot for tourists and Elvis fans. The menu offered Elvis favorites such as the classic peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich and a "Love Me Tender" chicken dish. The décor was a chic update of the eclectic-eccentric mix at Graceland.
But for the new EP, that update is getting a total makeover. The über-dimensional chandelier in the main room is probably going. The billiards room on the mezzanine level? No more. Nestler envisions the now-empty and very-'70s space as a semi-private lounge. On the mezzanine: a very private dining room for Lisa Marie, Priscilla, and their guests. The wine cellar will stay and serve as another private dining area. The upstairs patio will be revived for outdoor dining.
Overall, the restaurant will have a more uniform look with brighter, lighter colors and more daylight -- no more plantation shutters that keep people from seeing in and out.
"Even during the years when the restaurant was open, it always looked like it was boarded up," says Joe Hemingway, Ishii's publicist. "We want people to be able to see what's going on inside."
And the eats? The menu will feature Southern comfort food with a twist.
"If you ask me to describe the food, think Stella, Felicia Suzanne's, or McEwen's, but with a different price point," Nestler says. "We'll definitely be a casual dining place, but we're also trying to get away from being just a tourist attraction."
Nestler wants EP to be a regular destination for Memphians too. Musically, EP is in the hands of David Porter, who helped write some of the biggest hits at Stax. His first task is to build a house band with a repertoire that reaches beyond blues.
But there is more to the building than the 200-seat restaurant, and it will be developed slowly: an Elvis Presley merchandise boutique, two art galleries, and a recording studio in space that has previously been unused.
EP is set to open before the year's end.
Dawgie Style is a new hot-dog restaurant downtown that will have you wagging your tail, says owner Calvin Reid.
If the wordplay above has you cringing, you better believe that that's just the beginning. Reid had orginally planned to name his new venture Dawgs Wit Style, but changed his mind after recognizing the marketing potential of Dawgie Style. (Seriously, who wouldn't want a T-shirt that reads, "I tried it Dawgie Style"?)
Reid came to Memphis by way of Michigan, having picked up his interest in the restaurant industry from his dad, who is a chef. He has a lot of plans for Dawgie Style, which is scheduled to open next month. He will be serving up gourmet hot-dogs on freshly baked buns, deli sandwiches, and a variety of other dishes, such as his signature chicken quesadilla. He won't have any fried foods on the menu, and breakfast will be served each day at 7 a.m. He has also designed a mascot named "Mr. Dawgie Style" and applied for a beer license.
"This isn't going to be your typical hot-dog place," says Reid. "I like to think of it as a cozy neighborhood hangout."
Dawgie Style, 150 Madison (527-7700)