Designing Women: Meet the designers behind some of Memphis’ most talked about restaurants

Three names come up over and over again when new restaurants open in Memphis: Natalie Lieberman, Glennys Cowles Bryant and Ann Parker.

These three women are the interior designers behind some of Memphis’ most talked about restaurants.

“Talented,” “passionate,” “amazing,” “knowledgeable” and “no one has an eye like her” are just a handful of the ways past clients have praised each designer. With such accolades, it is no surprise that these women have become the most sought-after restaurant designers in Memphis.

Each one brings something new and unique to the table — but it is the attention to detail, along with the knowledge of the intricacies of designing a food service establishment, that has put them at the top of the restaurant design industry.

DMC Expands Staff and Focus to Further Award-Winning DEI Strategy

International Award, Additional Program Scope, and New Hire all Support Progress

The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) was awarded the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Pinnacle Award* at the September 2022 IDA conference in Vancouver. The industry’s highest recognition, the Pinnacle Award, represents the most inspiring innovations in urban place management. 

 

Each year, the IDA recognizes outstanding projects as winners of the Downtown Achievement Awards, which identify advances to urban centers by organizations worldwide. This year’s projects were awarded by a jury of IDA members in the following categories: leadership development; organizational management; economic development; marketing, communication and events; planning, design and infrastructure; policy and advocacy; and public space management and operations. The DMC’s award-winning efforts highlighted the organization’s policy and advocacy work in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) realm, with the Building Downtown DEI Toolkit, designed to increase MWBE and emerging developer participation in the development of Downtown Memphis.

 

“The Downtown Memphis Commission’s innovative work received the IDA Pinnacle Award for setting the new standard for improving cities around the world,” said David Downey, IDA President and CEO. “The DMC’s DEI Toolkit has made an impact on its community and the people who live, work and play there, and is evidence of the continued commitment to champion livable, vital and thriving urban centers.” 

 

In addition to the IDA-recognized work, the DMC will take on a growing role in the emerging developer landscape, beginning fall 2022. The DMC will be the new home to multiple programs previously managed by Urban Land Institute (ULI) and RegionSmart. Under the DMC’s umbrella, these programs will continue to support greater equity in the overall development momentum in Downtown.

 

“The DMC has a history of advocacy for emerging developers,” stated Paul Young, DMC President. “We believe that pulling these programs together under one roof will strengthen the programs and lead to a stronger, more connected, development community.”

 

The programs include the Real Estate Diversity Initiative (REDI) program, Develop-A-Thon, and other locally-focused workshops and classes designed to prepare individuals for careers in commercial development. 

 

“DEI doesn’t happen by accident,” said Brett Roler, DMC SVP Planning & Development. “The DMC already has a robust toolkit designed to support a wide range of projects and emerging developers. Through the addition of this new emerging developer programming, we expect to redouble our efforts to continue growing the ecosystem of small developers taking on the challenging work of building up the core city.”

 

To ensure the success of these programs and the ongoing DEI work, the DMC has recently hired Tori Haliburton as Director of DEI. Haliburton graduated from Lane College, a small Christian HBCU in West Tennessee, and received her Master of Public Administration from Villanova University. 

 

Before joining the DMC, Haliburton served as Director of Grants and Funding Opportunities at Christ Community Health Services, and in various positions with increasing responsibilities at Wiley College and Lane College. Haliburton has extensive community engagement, project management, and team-building experience. She was named as the 2016 WestStar African American Leadership Emerging Leader and was selected by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce as Forty under 40. She has served as a softball, cheerleading, and pageant coach; and AKA sorority advisor. Her current favorite coaching/advising role is in support of her college-aged son’s pursuits at her alma mater, Lane College.

*The DMC has received the Pinnacle award twice in three years,
the first for the Open on Main program in 2020.

Click for additional images to support release. 

Emerging Developer Programs

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Additional Quotes in support of the DMC’s Emerging Developer Programs
“We are thrilled to find a new home for the Emerging Developers programs at the DMC. The DMC is the perfect organization to provide the expertise to ensure that real estate entrepreneurs in our community have access to the education and resources they need to be successful.”
–Anna McQuiston, RegionSmart Executive Director

Additional Quotes related to Tori Haliburton’s role at DMC
“We’re really excited to add Tori to our team. Her task is to wake up everyday thinking about what more the DMC can do to be proactive and aggressive to attract new investment and ensure that we’re building a downtown that reflects the diversity of our full community.”
–Brett Roler, DMC SVP Planning & Development

2022 Super Women in Business: DMC’s Penelope Huston

Penelope Huston has had a significant hand in the resurgence of the city core through her role as VP of Communications, Marketing, and Events for the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC). Huston oversees a DMC team that expects to host, sponsor, and produce more than 250 events in 2022 — 200 of them free. What many might find stressful, Huston finds joyful, describing her work as “the best job in the city.”

CHOOSE901 HOSTS DOWNTOWN COCKTAIL CONTEST IN CELEBRATION OF WORLD BARTENDER DAY Spirited by Old Dominick Distillery

MEMPHIS, TN—In partnership with Old Dominick Distillery and the Downtown Memphis Commission, Choose901 is gearing up to give local bartenders a chance to showcase their skills during the Choose901 Downtown Cocktail Contest.

From February 24th, which is recognized as World Bartender Day, until the end of March —cocktail connoisseurs working in Harbortown, South Main, North Main, Crosstown, and the Edge District neighborhoods are invited to demonstrate their creativity using Old Dominick spirits.

Be it a refreshing take on an Old Fashioned, a mule, a martini, a French 75, or the like—participants are encouraged to submit one recipe that represents their craft by no later than February 4th. Each submission will be vetted by representatives from Choose901 and Old Dominick..

During the month-long celebration, Memphians are encouraged to hit up each spot to enjoy a sip, and vote for their favorite cocktails. Winners will be crowned in categories such as: Best Overall, Best Name, Best Use of Garnish, Best Presentation, Best Gin Drink, Best Whiskey Drink, and Best Vodka Drink.

The culmination will come together on Thursday, March 31st during a special industry night hosted at Old Dominick Distillery where the winners will be announced, and discounted cocktails will be served to participants and fellow restaurant industry representatives starting at 12PM.

The Grand Prize for Best Overall Cocktail includes an award for the host restaurant and a prize for the participating bartender. Other prizes to be announced.

Get those taste buds ready for Memphis’ Downtown Dining Week

Memphis’ Downtown Dining Week is back! It is the 13th year. And more than a year in a pandemic, it is not holding back. In some cases, repetition is just good and can taste good too.
“If I can get you here and eat, you’ll be a continuous customer,” said Lernard Chambers, Genre Memphis Co-Owner. It is time for Memphis’ Downtown Dining Week. After more than a year of a pandemic, Downtown Memphis Commission’s Penelope Huston, said it hasn’t missed a lick.

Beale Street Artcrawl Festival Returns Saturday

Vicky Love, self-proclaimed science geek and art collector, looked for an art crawl after moving back to Memphis from Nashville. Something not as big and glamorous as River Arts Fest, but a cozy, independent artist pop-up fair working symbiotically with local businesses. “I told myself, ‘They don’t have an art crawl in Memphis? I’m going to claim one,’” Love says.

A graduate of Tennessee State University in Nashville, Love holds a master’s degree in geospatial information systems, and she’s an artist and photographer. Her left and right brain work double duty. She is also the founder of Dear Music Nonprofit, supporting artists and creators with the creation and public performance of their work.

“Creating opportunities for others is my calling,” she says.

In 2018 and 2019, the Beale Street Artcrawl Festival was amazing, according to Love. Beale was packed. The crawl went online last year due to Covid. This year, the event is a hybrid, with an online presence and the live event on Saturday.

“It’s hard to step out and believe in yourself and your abilities,” says Love. “Artists believe in their work, but they still need to pay the bills. It was hard before the pandemic. It’s even harder now.”

Her pet project is getting the word out that Dear Music Nonprofit not only supports traditional artists but also encourages young artists like Thomias Calderon, who is on the autism spectrum.

“I want those young artists who test within the autism spectrum to continue to express themselves and discover more abilities.”

Beale Street Artcrawl Festival, Beale Street, Downtown Memphis, Saturday, Aug. 21, 1-7 p.m., free.