Two of your favorite brews are the focus of a new downtown eatery, set to open in early June.
Tamp & Tap's dual focus on coffee and beer will create a place where patrons can, as the motto states, "grind or unwind." Specifically, the coffee-and-beer bar will feature craft beer, ideally from some of Memphis' burgeoning craft breweries, and small-batch, artisanal coffee from the Metropolis Coffee Company out of Chicago.
The project is the latest from local food entrepreneur Taylor Berger, who earlier this spring opened Chiwawa, a Tex-Mexicana taco and hot dog joint in the former site of the Chicago Pizza Factory on Madison. Whether adding this rapid-fire string of food ventures to his already full plate (running the local frozen yogurt chain YoLo, heading up the Food Truckers Alliance, and managing a newly acquired hospitality furniture company) reveals Berger's madness or genius — or both — remains to be seen. What is clear is Berger wastes no time once he spies an opportunity and a market.
"The inspiration was to have a really high-end coffee experience and espresso bar," he says. "But in addition to that we'll have some really good food like salads and sandwiches prepared to-order and desserts."
With hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tamp & Tap is arguably more of a coffee shop than a biergarten. (Berger admits that the restaurant might not serve beer in the beginning, depending on the status of the beer permit.) Berger was tipped off about Metropolis by one of Memphis' up-and-coming brewers, Davin Bartosch, of Wiseacre Brewing. Bartosch used Metropolis coffee for one of his beers when he was a brewer in Chicago and recommended them for Tamp & Tap. After a jaunt to Chicago to see the operation, Berger signed on to carry the Metropolis beans.
Bartosch has offered to brew some coffee beers for Tamp & Tap once Wiseacre is up and running, and Berger is also in conversation with Memphis Made Brewing Company, another local brewery in the works. In the meantime, Berger is focusing on getting local brews from the newest craft brewery in town, High Cotton Brewing Company, and from the progenitor of craft brewing in Memphis, Ghost River Brewing.
Located on the ground floor of the Van Vleet building at 122 Gayoso, the space still bears relics of its former occupant, the Van Vleet-Mansfield Drug Co., once one of the largest drug firms in the United States. The open warehouse space is broken up with large concrete columns and lined with enormous windows. Tamp & Tap warms up this former warehouse space with raw, live, edge wood from Woodland tree service, all sourced from trees that have fallen in storms over the last year. Planks are stacked artfully on the walls and fan out in canopies on the ceiling.
"We're making our bar out of it, we're using it as accents, we're making our tables out of it," Berger says. "It's a lot of real, beautiful, local hardwoods that otherwise would have gone to the dump."
The space is tailored to the needs of the customers, with a long bar that spans the back of the room and is sectioned off by function. Looking for a light lunch? Line up along the west side of the shop where you can purchase a made-to-order salad or sandwich for between $6 and $10. Interested in a quick coffee or espresso? The middle portion of the bar is cordoned off for caffeine fixes. And on the easternmost part of the lengthy bar is barside seating, where you can throw back a frosty mug of whatever local or regional brew Berger can get his hands on. Other aspects of Berger's concept can be tailored to the needs of his customers as well.
"If we have the business, we'll stay open later. If customers want us here until midnight, we'll stay open until midnight," he says, adding, "Hey, if they even want us to put in a full bar, we'll put in a full bar."
Tamp & Tap, 122 Gayoso (517-6518)