The Beauty Shop has a new chef. Tim Barker, a native of Martin, Tennessee, came to Memphis three years ago after living in Massachusetts.
"A good friend of mine bought a house here, my brother lives here, and my mom lives close by, so I felt it was a good place to move," Barker says.
Referring to himself as a proud Johnson & Wales dropout, Barker began cooking while working on his BFA in photography at Murray State University in Kentucky.
"When I graduated, I realized that there wasn't much money in the art business. On top of that, most people I met were unhappy — poor and unhappy. So I chose cooking. At least I'm happy, and I love what I do," he says.
He initially went to Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, for the "official cook's certificate," but after two months, he concluded that a piece of paper wouldn't make him a better cook.
His first stop in Memphis was the Peabody's Capriccio Grill, followed by Encore and a short stint at Boscos Squared.
At the Beauty Shop, he's overhauled the lunch and dinner menu and will be tweaking the Sunday brunch menu. A few items remain, however: the Thai Cobb salad, the house guacamole, the bar steak, and watermelon and wings.
The lunch menu now offers daily appetizer specials for $7.50 and plates of the day for $11. There's Spanish garlic shrimp and grilled Cornish hen on Thursdays; house guacamole and grilled snapper on Fridays; and grilled mushroom tart and mini steak fritte on Saturdays. In addition, there's an array of new salads and sandwiches that range from pastrami on rye, Reuben, and ham-and-cheese to gravlax club, egg-and-olive salad, and grilled cheese.
Dinner entrées include lobster Meunierre, striped bass cassoulet, turkey shank osso bucco, roast pork chop with mushroom and grilled tomato ragout, and charred rack of lamb with parsnip, potato, and apple sauté.
Save room for dessert because you don't want to miss out on the vanilla-bean crème brûlée with caramelized cotton-candy sugar. This is the Beauty Shop, after all.
Beauty Shop, 966 S. Cooper (272-7111)
To help ease the county's budget crisis, Shelby County mayor A C Wharton recently proposed a 2 percent increase in the prepared food and beverage tax, which would up the amount to 11.25 percent. Despite pleas from the restaurant industry, the County Commission voted in favor of the increase last week. Before the new tax becomes a reality, however, it needs approval from the state legislature in Nashville.
Members of the Memphis Restaurant Association (MRA) and other area restaurant supporters say the industry has taken some hard hits recently with the statewide smoking ban and the minimum-wage increase.
Before the commission vote, the restaurant association's executive board met with Wharton and several county aides to find alternative solutions. Wharton acknowledged that the increase isn't ideal but that the $14 million budget gap needed to be addressed immediately to prevent a possible property-tax increase.
"This is a proposal that's going to Nashville, not a done deal," says David Boyd of D'Bo's Wings n' Things and president of the MRA. "Now, that doesn't mean that we'll just sit and wait. We are not in favor of the increase, and we'll definitely lobby against it."
Advocates for the restaurant industry believe that the higher tax will ultimately lead to a loss of revenue for the county because people will eat out less frequently or take their business to restaurants outside of Shelby County.
"Customers will notice the bottom line, which already has increased because food costs are through the roof," Boyd says. "It's not good for our image if customers think that restaurants are out to gouge them."
Onix, a chicken and waffle restaurant and jazz lounge, opened at 412 S. Main — formerly occupied by Zanzibar — earlier this month. Although chicken and waffles is the focus, the menu offers other items such as burgers, salads, and wraps. Every Saturday night, the restaurant features a live jazz band.
Onix is owned by Curtis Chism Jr., who has been in the restaurant business for the past decade as manager of Best Wings of Memphis.
Onix, 412 S. Main (552-4609)