Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Independent Memphis Restaurant Owners Send Open Letter to Haushalter

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 9:25 AM

Dr. Alisa Haushalter
  • Dr. Alisa Haushalter
A group of independent Memphis restaurant owners has released a letter to the media addressed to Alisa Haushalter, head of the Shelby County Health Department. The letter offers a number of suggestions for changes that would enable restaurants to better operate under COVID-19 conditions, and suggests that Memphis Restaurant Association has not adequately shared the "unique challenges" facing independent restaurants. The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Director Haushalter,

We hope that you, your family, and your colleagues are safe during these unprecedented and stressful times.

We understand the herculean task that faces you and your organization and we appreciate the thankless efforts you continue to make in your effort to keep Shelby County safe for everyone while keeping our industry and its workforce as sustainable as it can be.

We feel that the Memphis Restaurant Association leadership has not been willing or able to share with you the unique challenges facing the independent sector of our industry. Despite our many attempts to work with the MRA to develop a platform that represents the needs and positions of our independent owners and those in our employ, we have collectively made the decision to reach out to you directly to offer some insight as to what our thoughts and concerns are, and, if you’ll take it, an offer to be of assistance as you navigate this crisis in the upcoming months. We, like all business owners, want to keep our employees safe and financially secure, our guests safe and fed, and our businesses sustainable. We are eager to work with you so we can, together, achieve that goal. We’ve outlined our positions below.

We would like to get clear science based guidelines consistent with CDC recommendations and follow them.

We recognize the value of wearing masks and fully support the order that requires it. We also feel that promoting and adhering to the mask order is in fact being pro-small business.

While we support the occupancy restrictions placed on restaurants we would like you to explore the possibility of full service restaurants being able to utilize their bar areas to serve meals while adhering to the social distancing, alcohol restrictions and time restraint directives that are currently in place (even if more stringent than the regulations at tables). For some of us these bar areas constitute a large percentage of our available seating and are vital for our ability to remain open.

Regular testing is vital for our industry, as our contact with large amounts of people at distances closer than recommended is high. Our employees need to have access to same day testing appointments and same day results so we can utilize more effectively and fully commit to our role in the current county wide contact tracing program. A program we fully support.

We understand that following protocol set forth is the only way to see our businesses and the jobs they create and support (both internally and through the chain of supplies and entertainment that we symbiotically count on) survive.

We do not envy the position you are in and are all very much aware that the needs of your various constituencies can be quite different and sometimes contradictory. We do feel that we could be a strong asset to you when you do have to make decisions that affect our businesses and employees and our ability to fulfill our obligation to help keep the public healthy and nourished.

We are all in this together and we stand willing and eager to help you in any way that you may see fit.


Anna Blair

Craig Blondis

Karen Carrier

Colleen DePete & José Gutierrez

Kelly English

Michael Hudman

Tina Jennings

Jaquila & Erling Jensen

Wally Joe

John Littlefield

Jonathan Magallanes

Michael Patrick

Tamra Patterson

Ronald Payne

Deni & Patrick Reilly

Roger Sapp

Rebecca & Jason Severs

Ben Smith

Bert Smythe

Andy Ticer

Bala Tounkara

Ryan Trimm

John Vergos

Felicia Willet

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Brittney Adu Turns Unemployment Into Opportunity With Furloaved Breads + Bakery

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 3:01 PM

Furloaved's Challah bread - PHOTOS COURTESY BRITTNEY ADU
  • Photos courtesy Brittney Adu
  • Furloaved's Challah bread

When Brittney Adu was furloughed in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sitting around was never an option.

To deal with the stress, she turned to one of her favorite pastimes: baking. After churning out several loaves of bread, she joked to her friend that she might start her own bakery. Fast forward several months, and Adu has her no-contact bakery, Furloaved Breads + Bakery, in full swing.

“I’m more of a doer, as opposed to someone who sits and wallows,” says Adu. “So, I had this idea and I pulled it together.”

With a background in public relations, it was no problem for her to create a logo and get the word out about her new business. Next came deciding on a menu. To start, she turned to her fiancé and future mother-in-law for inspiration.

“They’re Jewish, and I think Jewish food and traditions are just amazing, so I thought it would be a good time to try out Challah bread since I’ve been eating it for so many years,” she said.

She spoke extensively with her mother-in-law on techniques, and immersed herself in videos from Jewish bakers.

“I really wanted to learn from those who have made it as a part of their culture for years,” she said.

For her second item, Adu looked to mix things up. Rather than go with a conventional muffin option, she experimented with various ingredients to create a healthy alternative. The result? Avocado blueberry muffins.

“A lot of my friends and acquaintances on social media had just been complaining about gaining pounds during quarantine," Adulting said. "So, I thought about playing around with different types of healthy fats and using avocados as a replacement for butter. Besides the novelty of opening one up and seeing that it’s green inside, people have really taken to the taste.”

Brittney Adu
  • Brittney Adu

Every Monday, interested customers can place an order starting at 9 am through a form she provides on her Instagram and Facebook pages. But be quick! Hungry Memphians have flocked to Adu’s baked goods, which frequently sell out within 15 minutes.

For now, she utilizes Church Health’s community kitchen to prepare her orders.  Adu bakes all day on Thursdays, while she’ll email customers a pick-up location for either Friday or Saturday. 

“Since I was a kid, it’s been a dream to own a bakery,” says Adu, “I just thought it would happen later in life.”

Looking forward, she plans to stick with Furloaved and see what she can grow the idea into. While menu additions are certain, the original items are here to stay.

“No matter what the business grows into, I can’t get rid of the Challah and muffins," Adulting said. "That’s what I started with, and they’re sentimental to me.”

But as she works on new recipes, Adu is keeping those with dietary restrictions in mind.

“I definitely want to add in some more things for people who have some special dietary needs," she said. "I don't want anyone to miss out on having something special just because they can't eat those ingredients.  So, I'm really working hard to figure out some good recipes with perhaps alternatives to flour, or other substitutes, so everyone can feel included.”

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Four Way Restaurant Will Begin Offering Regular Menu Items Beginning July 17th

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 12:58 PM

Patrice Bates Thompson, owner of The Four Way Restaurant
  • Patrice Bates Thompson, owner of The Four Way Restaurant

The wait is over. The Four Way Restaurant will begin offering its full menu — just a bit tweaked — for takeout beginning Friday, July 17th.

That’s the restaurant’s famous soul food, including fried catfish, spaghetti, fried chicken, yams, and greens.

“My definition of ‘soul food’ is just delicious home cooking made with love that feeds your soul,” says owner Patrice Bates Thompson. “Makes you happy, happy, happy.”

The iconic restaurant has been serving a limited menu for the past several months, but now Thompson is ready to offer just about all the restaurant’s other items.

Fried catfish is their top seller, she says. “And the turkey and dressing and fried chicken run next, behind that.”


As for the menu, she says, “We’re going to kind of tweak it just a smidgen. Create specials on certain days.”

Pork chops were an every-Wednesday special, but, Thompson says, “I’m going to move pork chops to Sundays ’cause I know people really like them and they sell really well.”

Customers also will be able to get the restaurant’s popular neck bones, as well as their vegetables. “The only thing we use from a can are the pickled beets. Otherwise, we make everything in our kitchen. Our cabbage, yams, greens — they’re all fresh.”


The restaurant now will offer its regular menu items for call-in and walk-ups between 11 a.m and 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and every first and third Sundays. “We’re working on developing and online ordering service soon, which will provide contactless service.”

She’s not ready for in-house dining, Thompson says. They plan on opening “when the numbers have leveled off or dropped significantly. So, my thought is, when everything’s leveled off and we feel like it’s safe. I just don’t think it’s safe right now.”

Thompson is part of the Bates lineage that has owned the restaurant since 2002. Her parents, the late Willie Earl Bates and the late Jo Ellen Bates, bought the restaurant, which originally was opened in 1946 by Clint and Irene Cleaves. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is among the notables who have dined at The Four Way.

A native Memphian, Thompson was raised on her mother’s cooking. Her mother, who grew up in Haywood County, “learned to cook from her mother.”

And, Thompson says, “Things we have to go to the store to buy today my grandparents had in their backyard. Greens, cabbage, peppers. I could get chitterlings all year round if I wanted to.”

Thompson began cooking when she was in the fifth grade. “For some reason I learned how to fix spaghetti, which is actually the recipe we use today. Over the years I’ve kind of tweaked it to make it my own. And lasagna, too. One of my dishes I perfected early on before I went to high school. I’d periodically cook for my family. I learned how to fix spaghetti, lasagna, chili, and cakes. I did a lot of baking. So, those are things my mom would let me play around with and I perfected.”

Her spaghetti is extremely popular at The Four Way. “A lot of people don’t put a lot of meat in their spaghetti, but our sauce if very hefty when it comes to meat. It truly is a meat sauce. We use ground beef and plenty of fresh seasonings and dry seasonings that just brings flavor out. A lot of people put sugar in their spaghetti. I don’t do that. But it just has a powerful seasoning.”


Thompson, who was in middle school at the time, only visited The Four Way twice before her father bought the restaurant. She went on to Hamilton High School and then Xavier University in New Orleans, where she graduated with a degree in management information systems. “You would manage software progress on the computer. I had been in management since I graduated, but I was always managing people and departments. Not software.”

She remembers when her dad bought The Four Way. He “didn’t know how to cook at all. My daddy was not a cook. He was a business man. He was an entrepreneur. And my mom was a business education teacher for the Memphis City Schools for 42 years.”

Jo Ellen and Willie Earl Bates at The Four Way Restaurant
  • Jo Ellen and Willie Earl Bates at The Four Way Restaurant

Her father “purchased the building with the goal in mind of having a business in the neighborhood he grew up in, LeMoyne Gardens. His hope, mine, my children and husband, we pray other businesses will come back to that community and be a part of that community to revitalize the community.”

Her father bought the building with a friend, Thompson says. “He didn’t know what he was going to do with it, initially. My husband, who has over 33 years of restaurant and food industry experience, convinced by dad to reopen The Four Way because of the history.”

 Thompson met her husband, Jerry Thompson, at Xavier.

Her father “just kept the name of the original restaurant. People still refer to it as the ‘Four Way Grill,’ but for legal reasons my parents dropped the ‘Grill’ and just went with ‘The Four Way Restaurant.’”

At one point before her father bought the restaurant, other businesses were in the same building. “On that corner where we are the restaurant was there, a shoe shop was there, a pool hall. There were other businesses.”

But, she says, “All of them closed” before her dad bought the building. Her dad gutted the building and expanded the restaurant.

They didn’t have a lot of the restaurant’s original recipes when they opened, Thompson says. “I think we lucked up and found a couple of them, but most of the recipes we have are our family recipes.”


The restaurant was an instant success, much to her dad’s surprise. “It was also a shocker for him. He probably didn’t expect it would take off that quick. So, we were kind of bum rushed and we had some hard times ’cause it wasn’t as good as it needed to be. Some people were discouraged. But we regained the customers, some that we lost.

“I remember the day we opened there were people everywhere. We didn’t have enough employees to service everybody. We had some faithful people that stayed and waited and supported. ’Cause my dad grew up in Memphis. They knew him and they came to support him.”

Some customers “helped serve the first day. And I would say the first week. It was crazy. Maniac crazy. We were in over our heads. We were not ready. “

But “over the years with trial and error and just learning to organize” and with her husband’s experience, they’ve “gotten a whole lot better. We’ve done a tremendous turnaround.”

Thompson, who graduated from Xavier in 1989, worked at The Four Way from the time her dad bought it. “I worked part time. I was office manager at Metropolitan Baptist Church. I could walk from my church in five minutes in the next block and work at The Four Way.”

She did whatever she needed to do. “I’d work in the kitchen. I’d work the register. If I had to serve, I’d serve. To be honest, I still do that. Sometimes you’re short handed. You never know when your employees are going to come in and have a chip on their shoulder and not do what they’re supposed to do. I just fill in where I need to. You might come in next week and see me on the line.”

Her mother worked at The Four Way “until my dad passed. It was just me and my brother, Roman Bates. We lost my brother in 2013. We were all devastated by it, but my parents went through major depression. And I don’t think my mom ever kind of got out of that.”

Roman Bates, Jo Ellen Bates, Patrice Bates Thompson, and Willie Earl Bates.
  • Roman Bates, Jo Ellen Bates, Patrice Bates Thompson, and Willie Earl Bates.

Her mother took over the restaurant on paper, but, Thompson says, “I was doing all the work. She didn’t really do a whole lot of the physical work after my dad died. She was doing most of the paper work at home. And she would come up a couple of days.”

Patrice Bates Thompson and her mother, Jo Ellen Bates.
  • Patrice Bates Thompson and her mother, Jo Ellen Bates.

Thompson and her husband have two children. “JoElle Thompson — she was named after my mom — just graduated from Hampton University. A biology major. And our son gradated from the United States Naval Academy in 2018. Jerry R. Thompson.”

The Four Way Restaurant is a part of all of them, Thompson says. “Ultimately, my goal is to work another 12 to 15 years and try to hold it down. JoElle works with us full time. Her ultimate goal is to get her master’s in public health. I want her to reach her dreams and goals, but, ultimately, the restaurant is going to be passed down to them. I feel in my heart they may run the restaurant.”

And, Thompson says, “We’ll see. We definitely plan on keeping the restaurant in the family. My children will inherit what I inherited.”

The Four Way Restaurant is at 998 Mississippi Boulevard; (901) 507-1519 and (901) 305- 4488.

Jerry and Patrice Bates Thompson with their children Jerry Rashaan Thompson and JoElle Simone Thompson.
  • Jerry and Patrice Bates Thompson with their children Jerry Rashaan Thompson and JoElle Simone Thompson.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

City Block Salumeria, Venga, and Doughjo are Closed

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 1:05 PM

Brad McCarley closed his establishments, including City Block Salumeria, at Puck Food Hall.
  • Brad McCarley closed his establishments, including City Block Salumeria, at Puck Food Hall.

Chef/butcher and owner Brad McCarley has closed all his businesses at Puck Food Hall on South Main. He closed City Block Salumeria, Venga, and Doughjo July 8th.

City Block specialized in cured meats and deli sandwiches; Venga, Mexican street food; and Doughjo, pizza.

“We are officially closed,” McCarley says. “I’ve got a few irons in the fire, but not exactly sure how that’s all going to pan out. I worked with a lot of different restaurants in the past, making meats for them. So, I’ll probably continue doing that.”

As for why he's shutting down, McCarley says, “Pretty much it was just revenues. In March, they were cut by 75 percent. And it just kept going down. So, it’s just not being able to pay the bills.”

He and Spencer Coplan, who closed his Wok’n in Memphis restaurant the same day, “came to this decision,” McCarley says.

“I grew up here and then I moved out west for about 20 years. I lived in Tucson, Arizona, and Jackson, Wyoming, and Salt Lake City. But, yeah, I came back about five years ago. I worked as the head butcher at Porcellino’s  (Craft Butcher) and then I was at the Curb Market when they reopened in Crosstown. And I opened City Block.

“I also managed the entire [Puck] hall through remodel, rebrand, and through the last year.”

McCarley plans to stay in Memphis. “I have no plans to leave. It’s my home town. I love how everyone has been so supportive of us, but it’s just this pandemic has just taken the wind out of my sails a little bit.

“The plan is to keep City Block viable and reopen it when people feel better about going out.”


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Friday, July 10, 2020

Whitehaven Farmers Market Opens Monday

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2020 at 5:17 PM

  • Photo courtesy MLH
Beginning Monday, July 13th, Methodist South Hospital hosts the annual Whitehaven Farmers Market. Local and regional farmers will be on-hand to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to the community for purchase.

“Our Farmers Market, now celebrating its 10th summer in Whitehaven, brings in fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from a variety of local and nearby farmers,” says MLH spokesperson Sarah Farley. “Our community friends appreciate the ease, convenience, and selection, and our farmers enjoy sharing tips on how to best cook and prepare their garden-fresh, straight-from-the-farm produce.

“It’s important for us to host the Farmers Market this year, even during this pandemic — probably more important now than ever — and we’re implementing new measures to keep everyone safe while shopping.”

Due to COVID-19, new precautions to ensure social distancing and safety will be enforced. Face masks or coverings are required to be worn by everyone at all times while visiting the market.

This year, Whitehaven Farmers Market vendors and farmers include:
• Clark Fruits & Vegetables from Haywood County, TN
• Lockard Produce from Ripley, TN
• Jessie Harris Produce from Dyersburg, TN
• Peachworld from Memphis
• The Produce Tribe from Stanton, TN

Produce includes: cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, greens, green beans, nectarines, okra, onions, peaches, plums, potatoes, peas, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

The market will be open every Monday, beginning July 13th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through August 31st. The Whitehaven Farmers Market is located at Methodist South Hospital in front of the Medical Office Complex; 1300 Wesley Drive, just off Elvis Presley. Parking is free.

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The Majestic Grille Unveils New Ghost Concept: Cocozza American Italian

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2020 at 2:06 PM

  • Cocozza American Italian/Facebook

For The Majestic Grille, COVID-19 was the mother of re-invention.

Owners Deni and Patrick Reilly have not reopened the Downtown restaurant, not yet comfortable putting staff and diners at any risk. They are, however, putting their kitchen and patio to work, but completely transformed.

On Wednesday, July 15, the Reillys will unveil Cocozza American Italian. It’s a ghost concept, a virtual restaurant operating out of The Majestic kitchen but with an entirely separate brand and identity.


“The Majestic is not really viable right now with the current state of the economy and with the absence of our main revenue sources,” states Patrick. “Not only is the business not there yet, we’re just not comfortable putting our staff at risk indoors in a dining room setting with all the unknowns. When we reopen The Majestic Grille, we want it to be the full ‘majestic’ experience that both our staff and patrons crave.”
When Cocozza (pronounced cu-COH-zuh) opens next week, diners will have three ways to enjoy. To-go customers can order, prepay, and tip online at, and pick up orders at reserved, sign-posted spaces at Peabody Place and Main in their car or on foot at the entrance of The Majestic Grille. Or, Cocozza staff (wearing masks, of course) will bring orders to patrons in their cars.

You can also enjoy dinner on the newly decorated Majestic patio. That experience is touchless; menus and payments all available on your phone.

Can we talk about the food already, please? Yes. The food at Cocozza is the food that made you fall in love with food in the first place.

Cocozza offered a media preview of some of the dishes and drinks on their menu. It was an Italian feast in two bags. These two bags right here:


Here’s everything that was in those bags. Holy moly. (Yep, even the table cloth and red candle.)


We started with the antipasti plate, natch. It was a perfect mix of cured meats, cheese, and pickles, and roasted red peppers. It’s recommended for two to share but it was plenty for three of us and some leftover.


The baked garlic bread was simple and everything you want garlic bread to be. If it was an online date, the garlic bread's ID photo would perfectly match it IRL. Crunchy, soft, garlic-y, and perfectly cheesy.


Cocozza’s bucatini alla enzo (Italian, I suppose, for all good things put together) is big, airy noodles tossed with prosciutto, pancetta, mushrooms, peas, garlic, and olive oil.


The spinach manicotti really hits you in the comfort zone. Its secret sauce is the secret sauce. Cocozza describes its red sauce as “old school red sauce.” And it shows.


I always wondered what Henry Hill’s (Ray Liotta) meat gravy tasted like in "Goodfellas." Remember? He’s making it all coked up while constantly checking outside to see if the helicopters were still flying over? No? Check it here at around the :30 mark.

It’s the kind of red sauce that takes all day. The kind you don’t have patience for so you splash some Ragu over some ziti and — bada-bing — that’s amore.

Cocozza has that time and you can taste it right there in the sauce. It was amazing on the manicotti, the eggplant parmesan (which hits the comfort-food bullseye), the meatballs, and the pencil points (penne). I'd probably eat the red sauce on a road-weary steel belt.


But the favorite of the preview, though, was the chicken piccata. I’ve probably seen this on menus and passed it right over. Never again. It’s a sautéed cutlet with lemon, capers, and white wine butter. After Cocozza’s, though, I’m not passing on the piccata ever again, especially theirs.


The drink menu is filled with Italian classics. The Pirlo is a white wine and Campari mix poured over Pellegrino and ice. The Spaghett “has hot summer day written all over it,” says Cocozza. For it, pour a Memphis Made Junt, add Aperol, with a squeeze of lemon. You will want to do this. The Frozen Strawberry Surrender is Old Dominick Honeybell Vodka Aperol, lemon juice, and strawberry syrup.


“We’ve pulled from family cookbooks, dishes from our favorite Jersey restaurants, and American Italian traditions that Deni and her family grew up with,” says Patrick Reilly.

The Cocozza food and drink menus are full, maybe not what I thought with a ghost-concept restaurant. You can indulge childhood favorites, like fried mozzarella and ravioli. Or, get a grilled filet or baked salmon oreganata.

Either way, Cocazza is as versatile as the Reillys during this pandemic. Order it in (or sit on the patio) if you’re trying to impress that special someone. Or, order it in and get that added layer of comfort as you and yours lounge on the couch in your sweats.


Oh, the name, right. Cocozza comes from Deni Reilly’s American Italian roots. Her grandfather’s family came from a tiny town called Filignano in what is now the Molise Region of Italy where generations of Cocozza men served as mayor. Just like many turn-of-the-century immigrants, her great-grandfather, went by another name, Ferguson, when he arrived in the states, forgoing the family name, Cocozza.

Don't forget about the Helen's Favorite Tiramisu. It'll be your favorite soon, too.


For more information, look 'em up on Insta, Facebook, and Twitter all at @CocozzaMemphis.  

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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Wok'n in Memphis Closes

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 4:26 PM

Spencer Coplan and Cara Greenstein at the Jewish Chinese Culinary Mashup dinner, which was held last January at Puck Food Hall. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Spencer Coplan and Cara Greenstein at the Jewish Chinese Culinary Mashup dinner, which was held last January at Puck Food Hall.

Wok’n in Memphis has left the building. The restaurant in Puck Food Hall that features chef/owner Spencer Coplan’s take on Chinese food ceased operation Thursday, July 8th.

“We are closed,” Coplan says. “It was a multitude of factors. One being health reasons. It just feels like with the rising COVID cases and stuff, taking precaution for myself and my family and my staff is always number one.

“Also, I don’t feel like now is a good time to try and invite guests back into the building due to the rising number of cases. People are scared and such. I don’t want to be a reason people go out.”

And, he says, “There aren’t that many people coming out. The amount of traffic Downtown is nonexistent. No tourism, no social events really going on Downtown, so people don’t go out to eat as much. No foot traffic.”

Coplan, who began Wok’n in Memphis, as a pop-up restaurant, opened in 2018 in Puck Food Hall.

Meanwhile, Coplan’s new Wok’n in Pickle Co. online grocery store will open July 25th. He will sell his own specialty provisions and products using local ingredients. These will include Coplan’s kimchi pickles, flavored oils, and aged soy sauce. The products will be available online at

“We’ll be all online. And we are in the midst of doing a non-contact delivery for the grocery items and probably set up some shipping, also.”

As for reopening Wok’n in Memphis at a later date, Coplan says, “I’d love to resurrect it someday.”

But, he says, “This pandemic doesn’t just end overnight. So, I think waiting until a more appropriate time to open back up and in another location, yes, it’s something I’d like to definitely do at some point. I don’t know when.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

STIX Restaurant Opens Downtown Location

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2020 at 3:47 PM

The entrance to STIX Restaurant on Second St. - PHOTO COURTESY STIX RESTAURANT
  • Photo courtesy STIX Restaurant
  • The entrance to STIX Restaurant on Second St.
To find some of the newest pan-asian food Downtown, just follow the dragon. STIX Restaurant opened the doors of its second Memphis location earlier today at the former home of Dan McGuinness Irish Pub.

Patrons can enter the front doors on N. 2nd Street, grab a menu, and follow the long dragon mural down the hallway to the register. Meanwhile, ServiceMaster employees can enter STIX through a side door without leaving the office.

The interior underwent a complete redesign, with owner Wayne Yeh overseeing the installation of lounge seating, traditional tables, and a floor-to-ceiling moss wall emblazoned with the STIX logo.

“Our Downtown location is situated in a beautiful, newly renovated space that I know locals and tourists alike are going to enjoy visiting,” says Yeh. “Whether you’re looking for a unique meal like a sushi burrito or you want to take a more traditional route and go with a cup of Egg Drop Soup with a sushi roll, we have something delicious to offer.”

Unlike the Collierville location, the 2,600-square-foot space offers counter service only. The menu contains traditional items like hibachi, sushi, and crispy spring rolls, but Yeh also plans for STIX to offer daily specials like steamed Asian buns, or Memphis-centric sushi burritos (take your pick between the Bluff City Burrito or Riverside Roll). The restaurant also serves select local and domestic beer. For now, STIX will only serve a limited menu for takeout. Orders can be placed ahead of time online, or at a digital kiosk inside the restaurant.

STIX Restaurant

150 Peabody Pl.

12-8p.m., Monday-Saturday.

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Monday, July 6, 2020

Zoo Rendezvous Canceled on COVID-19 Concerns

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Zoo Rendezvous - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Zoo Rendezvous

The Memphis Zoo announced the "difficult" decision to cancel Zoo Rendezvous 2020 Monday morning.

The event is the zoo's largest, single-night fundraiser and featured restaurants from all over Memphis. This year's would have been the 37th consecutive Zoo Rendezvous.
The Memphis Zoo
  • The Memphis Zoo

"Several key factors played a major role in our decision to cancel this event including restaurateurs who have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic," reads a statement from the zoo. "The zoo’s two-month closure occurred during the start of our busy season. Our attendance fluctuates throughout the year, and the loss of our spring season will have substantial financial impacts through the end of the year.

"As always, we would like to thank our longtime local restaurant partners, sponsors, and event attendees for their continued support. We encourage everyone to support the bar and restaurant community during these unprecedented times.

"Looking ahead to Rendezvous 2021, we have already set the date for September 11th. At that time, we will have one of the city’s most elaborate celebrations as Zoo Rendezvous will return in full swing with much fanfare and celebration." 
Zoo Rendezvous - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Zoo Rendezvous

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High Point Grocery Bought by Cash Saver Owner Rick James

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 10:20 AM

Rick James, CEO and owner of the local Castle Retail Group, chats outside High Point Grocery. - TAYLOR JAMES
  • Taylor James
  • Rick James, CEO and owner of the local Castle Retail Group, chats outside High Point Grocery.

High Point Grocery has been purchased by Rick James, CEO and owner of the local Castle Retail Group, the company behind Cash Saver grocery stores.

The High Point Terrace store closed in April because of the coronavirus virus pandemic. Longtime operator C.D. Shirley decided to sell the store.

“We are excited to continue serving the High Point Terrace neighborhood and
community in the coming weeks after minor renovations are made,” James said in a statement.

James plans to have the store cleaned, stocked, and reopened by mid-August. A company official said Monday morning no major changes will be made. James said he hopes the former High Point Grocery employees will return to work at the store.

James has a connection to the High Point Grocery form early in his career. Shirley’s father, Charles, bought the store in 1971, and James became the wholesale
representative for the store and other many others in the 1980s.
“This store is similar to the store in which I started my career," James said. “High Point Grocery is a treasure of the neighborhood, and we’re thrilled that C.D. is willing to allow us to continue its legacy,” James said.

James’ Castle Retail Group operates three Cash Saver grocery stores in the Memphis area. James has been in the grocery business for nearly 50 years, and he serves as the chairman of the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association and vice chairman for the Mid-South Food Bank.

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Bardog Tavern, Slider Inn, Aldo’s Pizza Pies Close Temporarily After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 4:44 PM

Local restaurant chain Packed House Productions (PHP) announced Thursday, July 2nd, it would be closing its restaurants temporarily after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The company owns the restaurants Bardog Tavern, Slider Inn, Aldo’s Pizza Pies, and Momma’s.

In a statement posted to social media, PHP said they learned on Wednesday, July 1st, that an employee tested positive for the virus. That employee, they said, works at various times in each of the restaurants. The restaurant group is taking the time while they are closed to encourage their employees to get tested for the coronavirus.

“Out of an abundance of caution and commitment to doing the right thing concerning our hard-working employees and loyal customer base, we made the decision to shut down all establishments, when, after conducting a cursory contact tracing inquiry, we saw this as a good opportunity to request every employee that works for us to be tested for coronavirus,” the owners said in a statement posted to social media.

The full statement is below:

To Our Friends & Family,

Packed House Productions (PHP) restaurant and bar group – consisting of Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Bardog Tavern, Slider Inn, and Momma’s – learned on Wednesday, July 1, that an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

This employee does not work at any one specific establishment but does appear and has a presence at all of them at various times. The individual is not exhibiting any symptoms, is not a member of the customer-facing wait staff or kitchen crew, and has subsequently begun quarantining. Out of an abundance of caution and commitment to doing the right thing concerning our hard-working employees and loyal customer base, we made the decision to shut down all establishments, when, after conducting a cursory contact tracing inquiry, we saw this as a good opportunity to request every employee that works for us to be tested for coronavirus.

What this means for us:

While temporarily inconvenient, we look at this as an attempt to establish some semblance of baseline as we reckon with and navigate this new normal and try to responsibly move forward in a community fashion. In doing so:

- If employees test positive, they will follow recommended guidelines.
- Employees who test negative will return to work.
- Service hours may be modified based on staff availability.
- We will consistently provide socially-distanced, sanitized, and indoor and outdoor dining and drinking, regarding the safety of all as our most important concern.

What this means for you:

When we re-open, our businesses will persist – as we have done since the beginning of this pandemic – in being industry leaders that provide safe and healthy environments for all employees and customers.

Precautions set in place for both customers and staff will continue to include (but are not limited to):

- Temperature checks upon entry
- Masks required to be worn properly by staff at all times and by customers upon entry and while navigating the premises
- Hand washing/sanitizing between each guest interaction; regular staff inspections
- Non-communal table items, including QR menu codes, personalized condiments, and more
- Enforcing social distancing
- Sanitation stations

Fortunately, our industry has always been predicated on high standards of sanitation and cleanliness, and you’ve always trusted us with your health. You know we’re not going to start letting you down now. Please stay tuned to our social media channels for the most up-to-date information regarding our reopenings.

We can’t thank you enough for being faithful and look forward to meeting up soon for that drink or pizza, as we have so many times before.

– Your pals at PHP

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tattoos, Piercings, and Eats

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 2:30 PM

Ian Brown and his wife, Tay, at The Rook x Raven Tattoo Creative
  • Ian Brown and his wife, Tay, at The Rook x Raven Tattoo Creative

Tattoos and chicken wraps are among the “menu” items at The Rook x Raven Tattoo Creative. Customers who want to get inked or pierced can grab a bite to eat or drink at The Rook x Raven Coffee x Kitchen.

“That’s something I came up with,” says the tattoo shop’s owner Ian Brown. “Because in all the years I’ve been tattooing, tattoo artists probably eat just very, very bad. I wanted to provide us with something to keep the blood flowing, the mind sharp — low-calorie super foods that keep us going.”


They offer coffee, including cappuccino and lattes. “We also drink a lot of coffee. I figured I’d add all that together. We also have smoothies.”

Brown, who added the kitchen two years ago, says they make wraps, salads, and bowls in chicken, fish, or veggies. The menu “varies from time to time,” he says.

He wants to serve healthy food, Brown says. “We’ve gotten so used to eating things that aren’t real. We don’t know what real food tastes like anymore. I was just trying to get us back in the swing of foods that have nutrients in them, that are fresh. I don’t compromise on the quality.”


And, he says, “We don’t do anything frozen.”

Except the smoothies, of course.

Brown practices what he preaches. “I grew up with a grandmother who was real big on fresh vegetables and making sure there was plenty of fruit in the house. She was health conscious and conscious about what we consumed. I learned a lot from her.”

He converted part of the tattoo shop into a kitchen, he says. “I actually gutted what used to be a station and turned it into the kitchen.”

Customers can’t eat chicken bowls or other Rook x Raven cuisine while they’re getting inked. “You’re not going to eat while you’re getting tattoos. But it’s not uncommon for someone to come in for an appointment and grab something to eat, grab coffee, and then get a tattoo. You can have drinks back there. And we give you time to eat. 

“I’m weird about somebody sitting there eating while I’m tattooing. I’d just rather not have a whole lot of movement and stuff going on. An occasional sip of a drink is okay, but I try to keep everybody focused on what’s going on. We can take a break and they can just eat and we can get back to work.”

Born in Michigan, Brown grew up in Memphis. Tattooing was all he wanted to do when he was at Germantown High School. “I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember being able to pick up something and draw with it. I was always the go-to person to get somebody to draw something.”

He didn’t start drawing professionally until he graduated. “I’d gotten an apprenticeship,” Brown says. “I was at community college and got the opportunity to apprentice. Pretty much that day I gave up community college and pursued that. I remember my mom giving me a hard time about that decision. I think I made the best choice. I’m happy.”

His first shop was a partnership in Touch of Ink in East Memphis. He then became sole owner of The Skull & Rose, which was on South Second next to Paula & Raiford’s Disco. “We used to throw big art shows and smaller concerts.”

He opened Rook x Raven in 2016 while he still owned The Skull x Rose. He eventually gave up the Downtown shop and concentrated on his Cordova shop. 

Brown named it “Rook x Raven” because a rook is the opposite of a raven, he says. It just has a white beak. “So, I was thinking in my mind like a yin and yang kind of a thing.”

Among his tattoo designs are detailed drawings of Mohammad Ali and Elvis. “I’ve done so many Mohammad Ali’s. When we were Downtown we did so much Elvis, man, it was ridiculous.”


Brown used to alternate between cooking and tattooing, but now his wife, Tay, is “pretty much taking care of it.”

Tay learned to cook from her grandmother. “I was always in there with her, helping her,” she says.

Asked what are their most popular menu items, Tay says, “I would say the chicken bowl and the salmon wrap.”

The chicken bowl is “baked chicken, wild rice, sautéed bell peppers, onions, and black beans. And I put a little avocado in it.”

The salmon wrap is “spinach mixed with basil. And it has bell peppers and salmon, of course. And I make some spicy mayo. So, it’s a mixture of mayo, sriracha, and a little oil.”

The Rook & Raven Tattoo Creative is at 2821 North Houston Levee Road, Suite 106, in Cordova: (901) 570-3161

Friday, June 26, 2020

Wiseacre2 Opens Friday

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2020 at 12:53 PM

  • Brandon Herrington
Wiseacre Brewing Co. will open its new Downtown brewery and taproom Friday.

The 40,000-square-foot facility, dubbed Wiseacre2, has a 120-seat (socially distanced) taproom for guests and a massive outdoor patio.

To go, though, you'll need to get a ticket at Wiseacre's website. Sadly, all tickets for Friday and Saturday have been snagged already.

The ticket situation is an effort to limit the number of guests in the taproom at one time. One ticket will get you a two-hour slot at Wiseacre2. Seatings are spaced one hour apart to give staff time to clean and disinfect all surfaces.

Guests are asked to wear a mask, bus their own tables, and pay tabs through a free mobile app called Arryved.

“After weeks of being closed to guests, we’re thrilled to be open, even with this limited capacity,” said Kellan Bartosch, Wiseacre co-founder. “Of course, we would have never chosen to open our new brewery during a global pandemic – definitely not what we had in mind when we started planning this two years ago.

Brothers and Wiseacre co-founders Davin Bartosch (left) and Kellan Bartosch (right). - WISEACRE BREWING CO.
  • Wiseacre Brewing Co.
  • Brothers and Wiseacre co-founders Davin Bartosch (left) and Kellan Bartosch (right).

"But while we were closed to guests, our new facility did give us increased canning capacity, which allowed us to introduce new packages like 16-ounce cans and 12 packs and to meet the demand from our grocery and retail partners.”

The original Wiseacre on Broad, dubbed Wiseacre-OG, will continue to operate.

The company was founded in 2012 and has grown steadily in production and distribution. Wiseacre beer is now available in six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Tennessee. Kellan Bartosch and co-founder Davin Bartosch hope the new taproom will draw some of Wiseacre's faraway fan base to visit Memphis. 

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Alex Grisanti Now in the Kitchen at Ronnie Grisanti's Restaurant

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2020 at 2:43 PM

Alex Grisanti now in the kitchen at Ronnie Grisanti's Restaurant
  • Alex Grisanti now in the kitchen at Ronnie Grisanti's Restaurant

Ronnie Grisanti’s Restaurant at one time was known as Ronnie Grisanti & Son Restaurant.

It’s a “sons” thing again. Alex Grisanti recently joined his brother, Judd Grisanti, in the kitchen at Ronnie Grisanti’s Restaurant in Regalia. Their brother, Dino Grisanti, is one of the owners.

Alex, who will continue to operate his 9-Dough-1 food truck, is glad to be back.

“My dad’s name is on the building,” Alex says. “I want to keep that Grisanti quality going that Memphis is used to, and give our customers what they expect out of us Grisantis.”

Judd, who opened Ronnie Grisanti’s Restaurant, in September, 2018, says, “The restaurant was never mine. The restaurant was never about me. The restaurant was never about Alex. It’s about our heritage. It’s about our family. We’re brothers. And it’s great to be back in the kitchen again, cooking alongside each other like we did for 27 years.”

The Grisanti brothers cooked at the Ronnie Grisanti’s restaurant when it was at 2855 Poplar at Humes. Dino, who also is in the car dealership business, worked in the kitchen at one time. Alex was chef/owner of the old Elfo’s restaurant in Germantown.

Judd and Dino asked him to come back, Alex says. He says he told them, “When I wasn’t on my truck, when my truck’s not working during the holiday season when we’re not so busy, that I would come help him and make all the pastries and stuff like that.”

“That’s what kind of got me back there,” says Alex, who now will be doing all types of chef duties in the kitchen.

And, he says, “When Judd’s not there, at least there’s a Grisanti in the building. Like me and dad, Judd, down on Poplar. Just like the old days.”

His food truck - or bus - business is doing “phenomenal,” he says. People still are going crazy over his crawfish pizza and other pizzas.

“This is coming up on our third year with the food truck. I worked nine shifts in the food truck last week. Our business has tripled. Because we’re feeding hospitals and their nurses and big companies where people have to go to work. Like right now, we’re at Campbell Clinic feeding all the doctors and nurses here.”

And, he says, “We built a new truck this winter and it’s doing great.”

It’s actually a “cargo, transport bus,” he says. “I got a bus five or six months ago and it took me all winter to build it. But it’s out and done.”

Judd and Dino aren’t the only ones happy to have their brother in the kitchen again. “I think my dad and my mom would be happy about us being in the kitchen again,” Judd says. “I know he’s smiling.”

Ronnie Grisanti's Restaurant is at 6150 Poplar Avenue, No. 122, in Regalia; (901) 850-0191

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

First Local Craft Seltzer Hits Shelves This Week

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 10:50 AM


Wanna have Fun? Look for it on shelves Friday.

From Memphis Made, Fun is the first hard seltzer made at a local craft brewery. Fun Lime is the first flavor the brewery is rolling out. On Friday, look for it in 12-ounce cans just like this:

“This is a light, refreshing beverage that is perfect for our hot Memphis summers,” said Andy Ashby, Memphis Made sales manager.

The hard seltzer is gluten free, four percent alcohol by volume and weighs in at 90 calories, two grams of carbohydrates, and one gram of sugar.

The seltzer will hit shelves throughout Shelby County thanks to Ajax Distributing Co.
“The seltzer category is exploding right now,” said Patrick Turner, vice president of sales with Ajax. “Ajax is thrilled to be selling the first true local seltzer.”

Drew Barton, Memphis Made president and head brewer, said Fun ”is unlike anything we’ve ever made and we can’t wait to have some Fun with everyone.”

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