This was the year of seafood, South Main, and comeback stories, with old favorites like Fino's and Zinnie's making triumphant returns. Here are a few items of note from 2019.
Mary Burns, longtime owner of Java Cabana, died on October 4th after a nearly three-year battle with lung cancer. Burns purchased Java Cabana in 1998 and had become a fixture of Cooper-Young, serving as a member of the Cooper-Young Business Association and the Cooper-Young Garden Club. Burns is largely remembered for making Java Cabana what it is today, a welcoming safe haven for artists and poets alike.
City of Sole
Several seafood restaurants — particularly those specializing in crab dishes — have opened or opened new locations, including Crab'N'Go, Crab Island, DeeO's Seafood, Red Hook Cajun Seafood & Bar, Saltwater Crab, and others.
Saltwater Crab opened its doors over the summer with an expansive menu including sushi, sandwiches, and crab options such as crab cakes, king crab, snow crab, and a saltwater crab roll. Atlanta-based restaurateur Gary Lin opened Saltwater Crab in early July, but the kitchen is managed by Memphis chefs. The menu is entirely "coastal," so you won't find any catfish here.
The Juicy Crab, a Georgia-based seafood chain, opened its first Memphis location on Winchester earlier this year, and The Coastal Fish Company opened in Shelby Farms in October. Mardi Gras Memphis, which specializes in Louisiana-style seafood boils, recently reopened their restaurant across from the Crosstown Concourse. And Picasso's — a seafood and pasta place — opened in August at 6110 Macon, making it the newest seafood addition to East Memphis. The Cousins Maine Lobster food truck also opened in March.
South Main is now home to quite a few new dining and drinking destinations, including the restaurants (Hustle & Dough, Longshot), coffeeshop (Vice & Virtue), and bar (Bar Hustle) inside the Arrive Hotel, as well as those inside Puck Food Hall, Memphis' first and only food hall, which had its grand opening in May.
The Central Station Hotel also opened on South Main in October, and with it came a new bar, Eight & Sand, and restaurant, Bishop — Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman's newest project.
- Justin Fox Burks
BarWare, a neighborhood bar that features craft cocktails and elevated bar food, opened on Front this year, too. And several other notable establishments opened their doors Downtown, including Comeback Coffee, Hu. Diner, 3rd & Court, and more.
Old Favorites Return
This was also the year we saw many old favorites come back to life. Fino's, the beloved Midtown deli, reopened on June 6th, bringing their classic gourmet sandwiches back after closing in late 2018.
Old Zinnie's — the "best little neighborhood bar in the universe" — first opened in 1973 but closed abruptly in 2018, leaving many Memphis barflies feeling abandoned. They reopened on Halloween, the perfect night to welcome the regulars back to their local haunt. As if it never closed, Zinnie's feels very much the same, and they're even serving popcorn again like in the old days.
The infamous and inimitable Hernando's Hide-A-Way also celebrated its reopening near the end of 2019. The spot, famous for hosting music legends like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, closed in 2007 but was recently purchased and reopened by partners Dale Watson and Celine Lee along with co-owner Patrick Trovato of Long Island, New York. The owners plan to maintain the integrity of the original, offering plenty of local music and color, and, supposedly, the "best hamburger in Tennessee."