The beloved bar Sleep Out Louie's, known for its framed ties and goldfish races, is returning downtown in a few weeks.
And with that return come the framed ties and, of course, Louie — with an updated story.
The original story goes that Sleep Out Louie was a lawyer who quit his job and his tie and his wing tip shoes. He preferred the outdoors, traveling, and, when in Memphis, hanging out along the banks of the Mississippi.
Now Louie is back, freshly divorced and out of rehab (it didn't stick) and ready to check out all the new stuff in Memphis, a revitalized South Main, the Grizzlies, and ServiceMaster.
"He was made a deal he couldn't refuse," says marketing coordinator Molly Prather of the Sleep Out Louie character starting a new place.
It was the arrival of ServiceMaster that lured Louie's back. Belz Corporation reached out to Preston Lamm and Jim LoSapio to create a place for the new ServiceMaster employees at 150 Peabody Place, which was formerly Jose Gutierrez' Encore and is next to Texas de Brazil.
The space is long and skinny with seating for about 140. There's a cool curved bar in the back, ready for a hopping happy hour. The famous framed ties will go on a back wall.
Belz wanted a place with a decent price point and quick ticket times. A back entrance of Sleep Out Louie's connects directly to ServiceMaster.
The menu is much smaller, freshened up, says part owner Christina Knapp. There's more seafood, including oysters in nine preparations. There are loads of sandwiches like the Pabst Blue Reuben with PBRkraut (!), cheesesteak, and shrimp loaf. At some point, they will be bringing back the bar's popular weekend brunch (but not the goldfish races). They are hoping to incorporate alley parties at some point.
The bar will offer handcrafted cocktails and prosecco on tap.
The key to Louie's was its off-work attitude. Some of his best known quotes: "In this on again, off again world, it's great to be off again," "'Twas a brave man that first ate an oyster," and "I only lied when I had to; and I had to." Back in the day, folks brought in their ties on special occasions, a new job, a big account landed. Some of the regulars are already clamoring to bring their ties in for the new place.
"Louie is more of an idea than a person," says Prather. "People can relate. They get to loosen their tie, get a cocktail, some oysters, and shrug off the day."