The Grove Grill restaurant in Laurelwood Shopping Center is closed after almost 23 years of operation. But a new restaurant from the same family is on the horizon.
First, The Grove Grill.
“Finances,” says chef/owner Jeffrey Dunham. “We got set so far behind because of the shutdown.” They were looking forward to “early summer business, graduation, Easter, and Mother’s Day and all that to get us going,” he says. “And the timing was just bad.”
The business, he says, “wasn’t in a great place anyway. We are an older restaurant in a very large space and, frankly, our concept is not as relevant as it was. Operationally, it was costing us too much for the revenue we were doing. And then when this hit, it just set us too far behind.”
Dunham says the Grove Grill “never reopened after the virus thing. We did a little bit of to-go food.”
The restaurant, which would have been 23 years old this October, was defined “in a number of ways over the years,” Dunham says. “We did a lot of marketing stuff. ‘Casual fine dining’ one time. ‘American cuisine with a Southern accent,’ I think we said, one time. When we opened, Chip Apperson and I envisioned a potentially fine dining experience, but in a very casual and accessible atmosphere. Chip used to say, ‘Blue jeans or black tie.’ We were going to try to attract that.”
What's next? A new restaurant: Magnolia and May.
“My son (Chip Dunham) and my daughter-in-law, Amanda, are opening up another place that we’ve been working on, also in East Memphis. Behind the Half Shell.”
The restaurant, which will be at 718 Mount Moriah, is slated to open in two weeks, Jeffrey says. It will be “country brasserie — country food from all over the world. Focusing a lot on Southeast regional.”
The restaurant also will serve some of Grove Grill’s popular dishes, including the pimento cheese, which has a “cream cheese base, not mayonnaise. And we also use a chicken stock reduction to add a different depth of flavor.”
Asked how he was feeling about The Grove Grill, Dunham says, “Well, I don’t feel great about closing a business I operated for nearly 23 years. That’s not the way I would like to have ended that restaurant, to be honest with you. But we’ve been excited about this new restaurant for a long time. We’ve been working on it for a year and a half with planning and architecture and all that.”
So, will Dunham work at the new restaurant? “Yeah. I’m kind of a damn prep cook.”