Aldo’s Pizza Pies to Open in First Quarter of 2012

Following a banner year for new Downtown dining activity, yet another food option is slated to open by the first quarter of 2012.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies – the third Memphis concept by Bardog Tavern’s Aldo DeMartino – will occupy the 3,900-square-foot space in the ground level of Henry Turley Co.’s Barboro Flats, 64 S. Main St.

Wagner General Contractors Inc. is currently building out the space.

DeMartino told The Daily News in April the menu will feature affordable, hand-tossed New York-style pizza as a whole or by the slice, for pick-up, dine-in or delivery.

“We’re going to be authentic, the kind that you fold in half and the grease runs down your arm,” DeMartino said. “We’re going to serve by the slice, which a lot of people don’t do, but in Downtown, in a bustling urban environment like this, you’ll be able to go in and get a slice and a soft drink for $5. And it’s going to be a generous slice.”

Aldo’s lease began in June, before DeMartino’s Midtown venture, the Slider Inn, opened in August. The South Main eatery is slated to open by March, confirmed Jason Wexler, president of Henry Turley, during the Urban Land Institute Memphis’ hard-hat tour of Van Vleet Flats in November.

About 3,000 square feet of commercial space is still available on Van Vleet’s ground floor. It’s the only remaining bay for a retail or office user in all of five of Turley’s mixed-use Downtown Memphis Flats, including Barboro.

For more on Memphis’ 2011 restaurant activity and what’s on the horizon for next year, read Thursday’s story.

Carlyle sets up financial services buyout fund

According to Reuters, one of the potential suitors that participated in the auction by Regions Financial Corp. of its Memphis-based unit, Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., has set up … a new global financial services buyout fund.

The Carlyle Global Financial Services Partners II will fundraise for more than a year.

Fun tidbit: Carlyle’s financial services group is headed by Olivier Sarkozy, the half-brother of French president Nicholas Sarkozy, according to Reuters.

If I had to guess, though, I don’t think Carlyle will be answering “oui” to the question of whether they’d like to buy a certain Memphis investment bank.

Christine by Shelton to Close Friday

Christine by Shelton Clothiers is in its final two days of business at 119 S. Main St.

The Downtown women’s clothing store is going out of businesses after opening in the summer of 2010, about the same time national retail tenant Maggie Moo’s relocated from Peabody Place to 125 S. Main.

The area currently houses dining hotspots such as Majestic Grille and Bluefin, as well as a variety of office and multifamily users. South Main does have a handful of clothing stores – including American Apparel, Hoot+Louise and Sache Clothing and Design – but they’re all situated a few blocks south near G.E. Patterson Avenue.

Store owner Thomas Shelton told The Daily News in November Christine didn’t reach its business goals because of the national economy, “poor consumer sentiment and market uncertainty.” The older business that launched Christine, Shelton Clothiers – a menswear store – will remain open.

“The men’s store is an established business that is able to weather the uncertainty consumers face right now,” Shelton said in a written statement. “The women’s store never was able to reach that level of maturity.”

Until Friday, Dec. 30, Christine by Shelton Clothiers has marked down everything to 70 percent off, with signs plastered on the front windows reading, “Store Closing Everything Must Go.”

A Different Memphis Moment On Broadway

Memphis is back on Broadway in a very different way than the recent pair of musicals with Memphis as a backdrop.

“Million Dollar Quartet” and “Memphis” are built against the backdrop of Memphis in the 1950s.

The more recent arrival on Broadway is “The Mountaintop,” a play by Katori Hall featuring actors Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

It runs there through January 22 and comes to Broadway after opening in London in 2010. The play has also been translated into Russian.

It is a play built around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in April 1968.

Earlier this year, Hall was in Memphis to talk about the play at the National Civil Rights Museum, built on the site of what was the Lorraine Motel.

She was on Charlie Rose on PBS this week as well with the play’s director Kenny Leon and Bassett and Jackson.

The play is a fictional encounter between King and a maid at the hotel after King arrives back at the Lorraine from making what would be his final and best known speech at Mason Temple in South Memphis. It departs from the reality of the moment as does the musical “Memphis.”

Hall is a Memphian whose mother was at King’s Mountaintop speech at Mason Temple as a teenager in 1968.

She admits to some literary license mixed with tidbits from King’s real life like King sending his wife plastic flowers.

David Gallo, the scenery and production designer, acknowledges the motel room — to this day the most anticipated part of the NCRM — had to be recreated with some degree of accuracy because of its own iconic nature.

For staging purposes, the location of the beds in the room were changed on the set. But otherwise, Gallo was scrupulous in his detail that included working with curators at the museum amassing what he termed the “world’s largest library of details of room 306” down to the upside down zero on the door of the room.

The Mountaintop is no musical. It examines a very real issue during King’s life and after his death on the motel’s balcony the evening of April 4, 1968. King’s own son, Dexter, wrote about it eloquently in his 2003 book, “Growing Up King.”

Hall told Rose she created the dialogue between the characters with a deliberate intention of departing from the King persona that has been idolized. She referred to making him “just a guy in the room.”

This is a bold departure but not unprecedented. Other attempts to recognize King as more human than idol have either been overlooked or have been very controversial.

Jackson said Bassett’s character brings up a lot of topics that King was probably well aware of but never “verbalized.” That includes the attack and criticism of his adherence to non-violent change that was never questioned more stridently than it was at the time of his death.

One of the other characters in the play is King’s partner in the movement and chosen successor, Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

Toward the end of his life, Abernathy offered a very controversial version of King’s last night in his 1989 autobiography “And The Walls Came Tumbling Down.”

He wrote of King’s sexual exploits as well as his own that night in a version widely refuted by others in King’s inner circle.

The controversy overshadowed a broader point Abernathy said he was seeking to make by telling his version of the final night. He said King was being too idolized, too deified and as a result he wasn’t a figure that Abernathy felt people discovering his life for the first time could relate to.

He and others who parted company with him over his autobiography also said King’s image in death has become easier to manipulate than it was when King was alive.




Memphis Real Estate Irony: A. Schwab and Piggly Wiggly

After 135 years of family ownership, Downtown Memphis institution A. Schwab has been purchased a group of investors led by Terry Saunders and other Saunders family members of Piggly Wiggly heritage.

The buyers gained rights to the store, including the real estate at 163 Beale St. and 165 Beale St.

Clarence Saunders founded Piggly Wiggly – the first self-service supermarket – in Memphis in 1916. Today, many of Piggly Wiggly’s stores have been converted to other grocers and uses, but the legacy of Saunder’s entrepreneurial spirit remains.

Coincidently, one of the A. Schwab buildings housed a Piggly Wiggly store in the 1920’s. And while A. Schwab has traded hands, the new owners hope to live up to a similar standard – the same nostalgic feel, but with more selection, art and music that reflects the store’s history and funky vibe.