Molly's La Casita is open for dine-in service.
The iconic Midtown restaurant, a consistent winner in Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis Best Margarita and Best Mexican restaurant categories, reopened its dining room June 8th for lunch and dinner.
“It went very well,” says general manager Kelly Johnson. “I thought we might be a little bit busier. I think the weather might have played a factor there. Everyone who was here was so grateful to be here.”
Fajitas were the most popular item on opening day, she says. The restaurant is featuring a limited menu, which includes enchiladas, tamales, burritos “and a couple of specialty dishes.”
Diners will see a fresh, new look at Molly’s. “We stripped the restaurant. Everything off the walls. We painted the whole restaurant. Same kind of peachy color, but the whole bar that was painted that dark orange disgusting color is off the wall. I edited what I put back on the walls. Kind of changed things around a little bit. I think it looks really good right now.”
They kept busy while the restaurant was closed, Johnson says. “A cleaning service came in. We cleaned while we were closed. We were up here cleaning and washing, spraying down the brick walls.”
They spiffed up the kitchen. “And our cleaning guy came in and just sanitized while nobody was in here. And we have our hand sanitizers up. We’re very compliant.”
Tables have been moved around to allow for social distancing.
Molly’s La Casita originally opened in the mid-1970s on Lamar. The Madison location opened in 1982.
The restaurant closed March 24th because of the pandemic. It began doing takeout April 25th, Johnson says.
Molly’s did well when it was strictly takeout, she says.
Their margaritas definitely have been the most popular takeout item, but the hot wings are in the running, she says. “I brought back the hot wings because I knew it would bring people back.”
And, she says, “It worked.”
She took the hot wings, which “are not cost effective at all,” off the menu five or six years ago. Making hot wings “bogs down the kitchen. The food costs and the kitchen staff. It bogs down our system. It’s hard enough with all the stuff we have. Our kitchen is so small. It’s tiny.”
It gets really hectic if you have “a bunch of orders for hot wings,” Johnson says. “And we don’t make anything ahead of time. You have your food on the line - sauces and things, enchiladas, burritos, and fajitas, but certainly not fried things. So, you could only fit two orders of wings in the fryer and you’ve got 10 orders. Then everybody’s wait time for food was extremely exaggerated.”
What makes the hot wings so good? “They’re the best drummies out there on the market. They’re huge.”
People, she says, “don’t realize there’s a sauce on it: ‘How do you fix these? I can’t believe there’s no sauce.’”
The drummies have been drumming up business, but, Johnson eventually will take them off. “I don’t need to be upsetting my guys.”
Owner Jamie Chapman took care of her employees while the dining room was closed, Johnson says.”We never missed a paycheck. She’s a fantastic boss.”