It is not news that Memphis is experiencing a renaissance on multiple levels, particularly on the food front, becoming a foodie destination all of its own.
So much so that some of the relative newcomers to the scene are already expanding.
Heather Bryan-Pike and Abby Jestis opened the French-inspired cafe and patisserie Tart in 2014 to much fanfare, and in April of 2015 sold the Cooper-Young establishment to a silent owner.
Almost since taking it over, the new owner and Sleepy Johnson, Tart's chef and general manager, have been prepping for a new location, settling on the lobby of One Commerce Square.
The reasons are not only to bring their fresh, homemade, and locally sourced sandwiches (Croque Monsieur, am I right?), pastries, and soups to people who live in zip codes other than 38104, but also because of logistics.
"We sell our bread to other businesses, and we have to rent another space to make it and ship it [to our Cooper-Young restaurant]. It's a pain, and it's costly," Johnson says.
At their second location, Johnson and company will make all their breads and offer a to-go window with most of the favorites on the menu as well as a few pre-made salads, granola, etc.
Johnson says they are looking at November for the opening.
Their plans don't stop there either.
"We hope to acquire the restaurant space in the building and open a brasserie. It will be a whole other ball game," Johnson says.
Tart, 820 Cooper St. and 40 S. Main,
(901) 725-0091, tartmemphis.com.
When Babalu first opened in Overton Square in 2014, there were two-hour waits on Friday nights. I know. I was there.
The Eat Here Brands eatery, which is also responsible for four other Babalus in Jackson, Mississippi, Birmingham, Knoxville, and Charlotte, hopes to reach those outside the parkways with its second Memphis location next to International Paper.
"They built a new building just off of Poplar," Eat Here Brands CEO Bill Latham says of the former Cozymel's location. "They contacted us and asked if we would be interested. We took a look and said yes."
Plans are to be similar to the Overton Square location but different.
"Every one of our restaurants is different, but we will try to make sure there are plenty of similarities," Latham says.
Perhaps most importantly, it will have another kick-ass patio. And the guacamole.
Latham says they hope to open by the end of the year.
"I've always thought Memphis could support two Babalus," Latham says. "It's a great location with a tremendous amount of office space all around us and great neighborhoods north, south, east, and west. We love Memphis."
Babalu Tacos & Tapas,
2115 Madison and near the corner of International Drive and Poplar, (901) 274-0100,
Wild Beet Salad Co. has diversified its operations in more ways than one.
After opening in 2014 as Lettuce Eat Salad Co., owner Kelcie Hamm was informed that using "lettuce" as a verb was already trademarked by a company in Chicago. Eventually she settled on Wild Beet Salad Co.
"I love it. I'm very happy with it," Hamm says.
Now that she's in the middle of ordering all new uniforms, signage, and binary codes, she figured it would be a good time to secure that second location.
In April she signed a lease at a location in Knickerbocker Plaza at 4715 Poplar.
She hopes to open in the fall.
Wild Beet Salad Co. serves fresh, chopped salads made to order topped with fresh-made dressings along with a variety of wraps in a fast-casual style.
The new location will be an exact replica of its original counterpart but with some additional seating.
"I'm really excited. I'm hoping to open more," Hamm says.
Wild Beet Salad Co.,
6641 Poplar, Suite 106 and 4715 Poplar, (901) 552-5604, wildbeetsalads.com.