Demolition Begins to Make Way for McDonald's on Highland



It's the end of an era for the eastern side of the Highland Strip. The building that once housed Whatever, the Super Submarine Sandwich Shop, and the Southern Meat Market was leveled last week.

After some resistance from the surrounding community in 2013 when the proposal was initially filed, McDonald's, which is currently located at 657 S. Highland, will be relocated to the corner of Southern and Highland, right across the street. Initially, the issue surrounded how the fast-food restaurant would fit within the local neighborhood aesthetic and comply with the University District Overlay.

Since then, the issues were addressed, and the fast-food conglomerate was approved for its design a year ago last August: a wrap around drive-thru was scrapped for a double drive-thru in the back of the store, and the building is far closer to the sidewalk than originally planned.

The property was sold in March for $580,000, according to the Memphis Business Journal.

Gary Geiser, the owner of Whatever, said if the property had been up for sale, they would have purchased it.

"If we had even been notified that they were interested in selling it the property, we would've tried to buy it for sure," he said. "But we weren't notified."


  • Penelope Huston

The property, which now belongs to McDonald's, has caused the collection of locally owned businesses previously located there to scatter. The corporation plans on the restaurant being completed by 2016. The current McDonald's will be leveled and sold as property.

"I think [the new McDonald's] is a really bad idea," Geiser said. "I think it's in a bad position. The train is always there. It'll give them good exposure, but getting in and out of there will be a real bear."

Originally, Whatever occupied a small corner of the building and expanded further into the property. They were forced to move to a space across the street at 555 S. Highland.

"We had a good run there," he said. "It was an interesting corner. We were across the tracks from the rest of the Highland Strip."

Since moving, however, sales have been up for Whatever. A second location opened on Madison Avenue, near Overton Square, and a third location in Cordova is opening in the coming weeks.

The Super Submarine Sub Shop moved to 3316 Summer Ave. The Southern Meat Market, after 114 years at the Highland location, moved to 3826 Park Ave.

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