Mac Edwards is an inside-the-freeways kind of guy, so the thought of an enterprise in Collierville never crossed his mind.
Until he got a phone call.
"The center-cut, filet-mignon spot on the square opened up and fell into my lap," Edwards, who owns the Farmer on Highland, says.
Cafe Grill owner Andy Chow had retired, leaving the space at 120 Mulberry on the historic square in Collierville up for grabs, and common denominator/commercial real estate agent Steven Levy put the owner of the building, Watty Brooks Hall, and Edwards in touch.
"[Watty Brooks] is terrific, and the rent was right, so it was meant to be, I guess," Edwards says.
By early July, Edwards will bring his special brand of farm-to-table dining to downtown Collierville in the form of Brooks Pharm2Fork.
The cuisine will be similar to the Farmer — elevated comfort food — but with a few twists to correspond to the bar Edwards will be adding.
"I mean, I'm going to dance with the one who brung me. The food I make is the food I make. I will have a lot of the same items, but having a bar changes the way I approach things, so burger-at-dinner kind of thing," he says.
He plans on serving lunch seven days a week, dinner at least five nights a week, and he is toying with the idea of serving a take-away breakfast.
He's almost more excited about the decor than the dishes.
"It's going to be funky and eclectic. We left the old plaster and some exposed brick. We have this great old receiving desk for the hostess station. My partner [in the Jackson, TN, restaurant Chandelier], Jennifer Dickerson, is doing the interior. It's going to have this great funky, repurposed feel," Edwards says.
The name celebrates what else has been housed by those brick and plaster walls over the years, particularly the old pharmacy, Brooks Pharmacy, that the building's owner grew up in.
"The people of Collierville have really welcomed us and are really excited. It's exciting what's going on in Collierville right now with other restaurants opening up on the square. It's beyond serendipitous," he says.
Brian Thurmond also never imagined himself enterpris-ing in Collierville.
He never imagined himself making a living doing something as fun as playing with food to begin with.
"I always paid attention to the Food Network and Alton Brown and would tell my mom, 'Let's go to the store and grab some stuff and try out some recipes,' but I never realized the culinary field could be a career," Thurmond says.
Until he stumbled through the doors of Restaurant Iris a month after it opened and began washing dishes under the tutelage of Kelly English.
"Kelly instilled in me the thought process and the love for food that I didn't know I had," Thurmond says.
Thurmond worked his way up through the brigade at Iris, first as garde manger and eventually to chef de cuisine, with some added duties at McEwen's and Interim and a degree from L'Ecole Culinaire while he was at it.
There was always an agreement between English and Thurmond.
Thurmond would one day be pushed out of the nest to make it on his own as a restaurateur, he just had to let English know when he was ready.
That day came in January 2015, when a place in Collierville, where Thurmond lives with his wife and now-14-month-old daughter, "jumped into their laps."
"It made perfect sense. I live in Collierville, and my wife was pregnant at the time, so I could get to work in three minutes and have my home life," Thurmond says.
Edwards and Thurmond will be neighbors come July, when Thurmond will open his French-Southern restaurant, 148 North on the Collierville square.
"The address is 148 N. Main, and the building has a bunch of history. The post office of Collierville was there. The building and its history has so much value to the city, I wanted to continue to build on that," Thurmond says.
- Thurmond’s 148 North
His style of cuisine will build on his roots and his experience, using old family recipes from his grandmother and aunts while preparing them in a traditional French style.
"It's grits and greens, but also duck confit and pork belly," he says.
Having Edwards nearby and with talk of other restaurants opening this year, including a Scottish pub-style restaurant late summer/early fall, just creates more momentum for all.
"To be down the street from somebody like Mac, who has been successful for so long, that's not a rival, that's a mentor. There will be places I can go to and take a break for lunch. It's great," Thurmond says.