Dog and Cat

South Main Fever

South Main is seemingly becoming more vibrant by the day.

Grawemeyer’s, a full-service restaurant and bakery at 520 S. Main St., had its soft opening Thursday, March 22. It’s a work in progress since the restaurant is still waiting on its liquor license, but Grawemeyer’s is anticipating an early April grand opening.

In addition to homemade scones, cupcakes and muffins, the eatery will feature affordably priced food and drinks like salads, soups, sandwiches, baked goods and pizza. It also will have free wireless Internet access.

Michael Patrick, head chef around the corner at Rizzo’s Diner, will be assisting Grawemeyer’s sous and head chefs in formulating the menu, which will change daily.

Rizzo’s opened late last year at 106 G.E. Patterson Ave. Both Rizzo’s and Grawemeyer’s are owned by South Main developers and investors Mark and Cynthia Grawemeyer. Read more here.

The couple also owns women’s fashion boutique Everleah’s, which opened at 524 S. Main in December. Run by the Grawemeyer’s four daughters, the store is currently undergoing renovations to add a dressing room and four separate closets where each daughter will showcase their personal style.

Everleah’s theme is “timeless,” according to Emily Friddle, one of the daughters, and has vintage-style knick-knacks like books, mirrors and globes sprinkled in between its selection of apparel, jewelry and shoes.

Friddle said Everleah’s brother store, Sir Samuel’s, is slated to open by next month. That space, also owned by the Grawemeyer’s at 522 S. Main, will sell men’s clothing and accessories.

The Grawemeyer’s aren’t the only ones investing in Downtown Memphis’ historic arts district. Obsidian Public Relations recently relocated from a 1,700-square-foot space it was renting off Tennessee Street to an owner-occupied bay nearly twice as large at 493 S. Main. The firm had its sixth anniversary party and open house Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, Double J Smokehouse & Saloon opened earlier this month in the space formerly occupied by Beignet Café and Blues Bar at 124 G.E. Patterson. The eatery, owned by John Harris and Jeff Stamm, features a variety of steaks, ribs, barbecue and homemade Italian sausage.

What’s more, a celebrated barbecue restaurant is expected to open near South Main in the coming months, if all goes as planned with building permits, the owner told The Daily News recently.

Update on Morgan Keegan-Raymond James merger

Raymond James disclosed Wednesday that its planned integration with Morgan Keegan remains on schedule to close April 2.

Also, the company that will be Morgan Keegan’s new parent said 98 percent of Morgan Keegan financial advisors who were presented with retention incentive offers have said they’ll accept them and will join Raymond James upon closing of the merger.

Las Delicias Joins Neil’s at Yorkshire Center

A popular Mexican restaurant has inked its third Memphis-area lease.

Las Delicias Mexican Bar and Grill has signed a 6,400-square-foot lease in Yorkshire Center, 5689 Quince Road. The space formerly housed Thyme Bistro – which closed in June after about a year in business – and Jarrett’s for 15 years prior.

Las Delicias is owned by Antonio Martinez and has two other Memphis locations, one in East Memphis at 4002 Park Ave. and one in Hickory Ridge at 3727 S. Mendenhall Road. The eatery is expected to be open in about 90 days in its third Yorkshire location.

Yorkshire Center is owned by Loeb Properties Inc. Loeb vice president brokerage Aaron Petree represented the landlord in the deal. The tenant was unrepresented.

Loeb acquired the 52,365-square-foot center in 1996 and made renovations in 2007. Yorkshire Center is 83 occupied and includes tenants MemFish, Johnson Chiropractic, Posh Styling Salon, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Straight from the Heart Hair & Nail, American Reprographics Co., First American Bank, SecureWatch, Raindrop Turkish Foundation, Yorkshire Liquors and Neil’s Bar. Loeb said the only vacancy is the former xpedx space.

Neil’s signed a 6,000-square-foot lease in Yorkshire Center in January, taking over the space that was once occupied by Whole Hog Café. Neil’s was previously located for nearly 20 years in Midtown at 1835 Madison Ave., before an August fire destroyed the property.

But Loeb was actually trying to attract a Mexican restaurant before the company signed Neil’s, Petree said

“We thought the Thyme Bistro space set up perfectly as a Mexican restaurant – there is a wonderful outdoor patio attached, and plenty of space inside with a great bar, so we marketed it as such,” Petree said. “Las Delicias contacted us once they received our Mexican restaurant marketing flyer. The neighborhood has nothing like it, so we feel it will fill a void there. We knew this would be a great amenity to the center and for the neighborhood, and could pull from the nearby daytime office population near Poplar/240.”

Unlike Loeb’s other centers around town, Yorkshire is more of a neighborhood shopping center rather than being located on a main artery, Petree said.

“Our main goal for Yorkshire has been to attract more retail users to drive traffic to the center and to meet the needs of the surrounding neighborhood,” Petree said. “After completing a renovation in 2007, our goal now is to lease the one remaining space in the center.”

Award-winning puppeteer documentary on WKNO

WKNO will premiere the award-winning documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” on Monday, April 9 at 8:00 p.m. on WKNO/Channel 10.

It will repeat on Tuesday, April 10 at 8:00 p.m. on WKNO2, available over the air on Channel 10.2 and on Comcast Cable Channel 910.

The documentary tells the story of Elmo’s creator, Kevin Clash, who grew up in Baltimore in the 1970s and dreamed of being a puppeteer like his idol Jim Henson.

Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and directed by Constance Marks, the movie includes archival footage and interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell and others, in addition to offering a unique look at Clash’s life on Sesame Street and at the Jim Henson Workshop.

On a related note, British drama like Downton Abbey is all the rage now. I remember as a kid a bit Elmo did on Sesame Street, where he sort of did a spin on the old British drama “Upstairs, Downstairs.”

“This is me running upstairs… this is me running downstairs!”

More on Poplar Plaza

Poplar Plaza may be one of three shopping centers Finard Properties LLC owns in Memphis, but its history could possibly be the richest.

The Burlington, Mass.-based real estate company is in the midst of a multi-million transformation of the center, including the relocation of nine tenants to make way for a new 86,500-square-foot Kroger.

Not only is the project noteworthy because tenants Kroger and Gould’s Day Spa are getting new digs within the center, but also because both were among the center’s original occupants, which far precedes Finard’s ownership. It’s also a pretty telling picture of the transformation made by retail real estate over the past 60 years.

“We have (a copy of) the original Kroger lease, which I believe is dated 1952,” Smith said. “It’s three pages long. That’s so entertaining because nowadays, a lease with a large, big-box tenant is often 80 and 90 pages, especially with the exhibits.”

Today, Poplar Plaza sits on 28 acres and is home to more than 50 local and national tenants, including anchors Kroger, Old Navy, Petco and Mattress Firm. But that’s in stark contrast to the first phase of construction of the outdoor strip mall in 1948, when the intersection at Poplar and Highland was considered to be the rural outskirts of the city.

“A rural, large-layout shopping center – they just didn’t exist except in maybe Texas and California and a couple of other coastal states like that,” said Rick Smith, director of leasing for Finard’s Memphis office. “It was really very much one of its kind at that point.”

Dansette

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