History-making whiskey: Old Dominick’s new release a first in Memphis since Prohibition

The wait is over. After five years of patiently waiting for it to mature, Old Dominick Distillery will release its first Straight Tennessee Whiskey on Nov. 1.

This is a historic milestone for the Memphis-based distillery. The Straight Tennessee Whiskey is the first distilled, barreled, matured and bottled whiskey in Memphis since Prohibition.

The release is the first in a series of new offerings, including an 85 proof and two Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys.

by Jennifer Chandler

COGIC to bring new affordable housing units to downtown Memphis

20 new affordable housing units are coming to downtown Memphis. The Church of God in Christ held a dedication and groundbreaking ceremony for the new project Tuesday morning.

A few years ago, the COGIC organization added 77 units as part of the Mason Homes. Now, the denomination plans to add 20 homes to the Pontotoc Avenue development it owns, which currently has 81 units.

Brunch with a Side of History

Envolve LLC, one of the country’s largest multifamily property owners and managers (local to the Memphis market since 1979 as LEDIC Management Group) recently purchased brunch from Catherine & Mary’s for all residents at The Chisca on Main apartments in downtown Memphis. Envolve founded its Resident Lunch Program shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and it has already made its way through many regions within the company’s geographic footprint.

“The Envolve Resident Lunch (or in this case, brunch) Program serves as another opportunity for us to give back to our communities,” said Jake Turner, SVP, Operations & Compliance for Envolve Client Services Group. “After a particularly challenging year for the restaurant and service industry, this event was a great way to support both our amazing residents and a favorite local restaurant.”

For over six years, Envolve has proudly managed The Chisca on Main (formerly the historic Chisca Hotel), an iconic renovation featuring 166 luxurious apartment homes. This renewed building is also the home of downtown favorite, Catherine & Mary’s—so the restaurant choice was a perfect fit.

Eagerly awaiting the delicious offerings, residents quickly formed a line outside of the Chisca Ballroom on 5/1. This event featured a grand selection of breakfast favorites, including polenta, bacon, quiche, biscuits, mimosas, and juice. Property staff set up socially distanced tables for those who wished to join in person, but to-go options were available as well. Envolve also gave away water bottles featuring the company logo.

“Thanks again for the cool gesture—it really made my Saturday to be able to shuffle down in sweats and get some great food!” said Chisca resident, Michael Shults.

The Envolve Resident Lunch Program has since made its way to Michigan and is headed to Florida with many more residents and communities to serve.

“The program concept is simple,” said Daniel Hughes, Chairman & CEO of Envolve LLC. “We treat our wonderful residents to lunch while supporting the amazing communities we serve. We always choose local restaurants since they were generally hit hardest by COVID. The big picture can be summed up by our tagline, which is Making Communities Better Together.” ###


Hyatt Centric: Your Sneak Peek at Memphis’ Newest Hotel

Legendary Beale Street is three neon-lit blocks of nonstop entertainment. Strolling along the pedestrian-only thoroughfare, you can shop, eat, drink and enjoy the music that makes the area famous. Theater buffs love visiting the beautiful Orpheum Theatre, while sports fans and concertgoers appreciate the state-of-the-art FedEx Forum. In fact, the only thing that has been missing from this iconic destination is a great place to stay – until now.

Today, Beale Street welcomes Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis, an upscale hotel experience with a resort-style pool, full-service restaurant, and rooftop bar. We are excited to explore everything that awaits us; from event spaces to accommodations to dining options, here’s a look at what we can expect!

Daytime rendering of new Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis

Hyatt Centric has revitalized and repurposed the William C. Ellis and Sons Ironworks and Machine Shop located on Front Street.

Event & Community Spaces

Downtown has seen businesses come and go, with some lovely historic properties remaining vacant over the years. Hyatt Centric has revitalized and repurposed one such property, the William C. Ellis and Sons Ironworks and Machine Shop located on Front Street. The former family-owned manufacturing business will be home to approximately 9,000 square feet of event and meeting space. Designed to be flexible, the space can accommodate up to 450 meeting attendees and up to 500 social event guests. (These numbers may be less for now due to the pandemic.)

The history of the building is reflected in the event space, which includes original brick walls and large windows. In the lobby, guests will be greeted at check-in pods that were locally created using original Ironworks parts and materials. The fresh, modern décor was inspired by all things Memphis and pays homage to its rich music history. Distinct touches include hallway carpets with patterns that mimic sound waves and light fixtures that resemble treble clef notes.

Making excellent use of the view, the event area incorporates an event lawn overlooking the mighty Mississippi River and the pool. This is not your typical hotel pool, however! Hyatt Centric Beale Street has pulled out all the stops for the only resort-style pool experience Downtown, including private poolside cabanas, an expansive sun deck, food, and entertainment.

You’ll also find a 24-hour market in the lobby, a first-class fitness center, valet parking, and concierge services in this pet-friendly hotel.

Rendering of meeting space in new Memphis hotel

The history of the building is reflected in the event space, which includes original brick walls and large windows.

RELATED: 5 Luxurious & Unusual Southern Airbnbs


Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis offers 227 guest rooms, including 12 suites. The soothing colors in the rooms set off cool vintage wall graphics and leather headboards. Continuing the Memphis theme, shower walls are etched with sights and names beloved of the Bluff City, and oversized windows give panoramic views of Downtown or the river. Visitors can select a room with one king bed or two queens, and ADA rooms are also available. Upscale amenities add to the comfort: rainfall showers, jersey-knit bathrobes, Keurig coffee makers, 55-inch HDTVs, and more. You might be tempted to not leave your room!

King room in Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis

Shower walls are etched with beloved sights and names familiar to locals, and oversized windows give panoramic views of Downtown or the river

Details of new Memphis hotel

Upscale amenities and comfortable touches are found everywhere!

Dining Options

Latin American-inspired cuisine awaits you at CIMAS. Open from 7 a.m. to midnight, the full-service restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner accompanied by views of the majestic Mississippi River from the outdoor patio or through the floor-to-ceiling windows inside. The menu features local Southern ingredients in delicious and exciting Latin American dishes.

“For breakfast, we’re particularly excited about the classic shrimp and Anson Mills grits dish, as well as chilaquiles Verde,” says Chef de Cuisine Garron Sanchez. For a great example of Southern food filtered through a Latin American lens, he recommends the blackened shrimp Caesar salad along with a catfish Milanese po’boy for lunch. You’ll be spoiled for choice at dinner, with sure-to-please options like the vegan Bluff City mushroom chorizo tostadas, dry-aged New York strip, and scallops with creamy elotes (street corn), chorizo, and okra on the menu. The restaurant is complemented by CIMAS Lobby Lounge, a lively and welcoming place to sip curated cocktails before or after dinner.

Eight stories up, guests are in for a truly delightful experience at Beck & Call Rooftop Lounge, which opens in a few weeks. Just the words “rooftop lounge” conjure up a romantic image of enjoying sophisticated cocktails at sunset or under starlit skies. The whiskey-themed rooftop bar offers a sweeping vista that takes in Beale Street, the Memphis skyline, and of course, Old Man River.

“Going with a whiskey theme for Beck & Call was a no-brainer,” says Troy Dixon, Beck & Call’s Director of Operations. “With Memphis near some of the country’s best distilleries, we wanted our menus to reflect the rich history and craft of America’s bourbon and whiskey legends.” The beverage menu will offer other tasty treats, including spirits from Old Dominick Distillery and a selection of craft beers from Wiseacre Brewing Co. Delicious dishes with a distinct seasonal Southern influence will add the finishing touch.

RELATED: Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Dive Bars & Other Memphis Gems

Location, Location, Location

The location at the corner of Beale and Front streets is ideal – very close to thriving downtown Memphis and only a 15-minute drive from Memphis International Airport. As a part of the new One Beale mixed-use development currently underway, the first full-service Hyatt in the city will be a great base for visitors to explore all that Downtown has to offer.

For more information and to book your stay at Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis, visit hyatt.com. All renderings courtesy of Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis.

New eats: Backlot Sandwich Shop opens in Downtown Memphis with ‘big and fluffy’ biscuits

Courtesy of the Commercial Appeal. 

Tucked behind the historic Downtown Memphis building that once housed movie reels for Paramount Studios is a new sandwich shop.

The Backlot Sandwich Shop opened Wednesday, the first of two new dining concepts going into the building at 265 S. Front St.

The Paramount, named for the building’s movie history, will occupy the front part of the building. The full-service restaurant is set to open in May and will include an upstairs speakeasy and rooftop bar.

The red door entrance to Backlot Sandwich Shop off Front Street downtown Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

Restaurateur Tyson Bridge and chef Derk Meitzler are the duo behind both restaurants. Meitzler has decades of experience as a chef in Memphis and is currently the chef at The Vault, which is also owned by Bridge. The two also own Earnestine & Hazel’s.

The Backlot will be open for breakfast as well as lunch and early supper. The hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Freshly baked biscuits, homemade jams, sourdough French toast and avocado toast are a sampling of the early-morning fare that will be available.

Guests can build their own biscuit sandwich by choosing one from one of the three biscuit offerings (buttermilk, cheddar-chives or honey butter glazed) and picking from a selection of more than a dozen different fillings. Breakfast bowls with either smoked gouda grits or hash browns as the base are also on the menu.

Kyle Gairhan, the sandwich chef at The Backlot, describes his biscuits as “big and fluffy.”

Owner Derk Meitzler of Backlot Sandwich Shop off Front Street downtown Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

An extensive sandwich menu includes items made with house-made corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, Barq’s root beer glazed ham and smoked brisket.  There is even a lamb belly pastrami sandwich.

“We are making everything we can in-house,” Meitzler said.

Gairhan added that he is excited for customers to try his house-made pickles and condiments like sauerkraut and mustard green pesto.

The hot sandwiches are a mixture of traditional deli fare and creative one-of-a-kind sandwich creations.

Meitzler said that the Turkey Pot Roast Debris sandwich (which is served with potlikker gravy and melted Swiss) will be a popular item for those who prefer turkey over red meat.

The Jive Turkey (herb-roasted turkey with warm brie and raspberry jam) is a sandwich Gairhan said he created for his wife. “She loves those flavors,” he said.

The finishing touches are applied to the entrance of Backlot Sandwich Shop off Front Street downtown Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

Hearty salads, chili and daily soups round out the offerings. A grab-and-go case will be filled with composed salads (like chicken salad, tuna salad and pimento cheese), traditional cold sandwiches and salads.

“Eventually we plan to add items like roasted chickens for those in the neighborhood wanting prepared meals,” Meitzler said.

The sandwich shop is currently for take-out only.

The front part of the building will be home to The Paramount, a 130-seat restaurant that will feature an exposed open kitchen and a large bar. Meitzler said they hope to open the restaurant in May.

Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining Reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at jennifer.chandler@commercialappeal.com and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.

At a glance

The Backlot Sandwich Shop

Where: 265 S. Front St. (enter on MLK Ave.)

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; breakfast served until 11 a.m.

Phone: (901) 509-8612

South of Beale moved down the street. Here’s what to expect at the new restaurant.

Courtesy of the Commercial Appeal. 

South of Beale just made a big move just a few short steps away from its original location.

The popular downtown eatery opened Monday in its new address at 345 S. Main St. Located in the newly renovated historic building that was once the Ambassador Hotel, the new South of Beale (known as SOB by most) is the next chapter for this Downtown eatery that opened just over 11 years ago.

“This is more of an upscale casual restaurant than a bar,” said Ed Cabigao, who owns the restaurant with his wife Brittany. “When we first opened, it had more of a bar gastropub feel. As the business grew, we had a better understanding of who our customer was. The new restaurant is the iteration of this.”

South of Beale's new South Main location provides guests with an excellent view of the street, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn.

The Cabigaos bought the building at 345 S. Main in late 2019.  At the time, the building was an empty shell, with all three floors being down to the studs.  The building has now been transformed into a full-service restaurant with ten apartments on the upper floors.

A new look and larger space

The restaurant is now 5,000 square feet versus the 1,700 square feet at the original SOB and features a gathering lounge area for those waiting on a table, a large private dining room and patio.

The new restaurant has a more modern atmosphere than the SOB original location.

Tables are set and ready for customers inside South of Beale's new location, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn.

Ed Cabigao describes the space as having a more contemporary design but points out they added retro touches to honor the historic building.

When you enter the space, the first thing you notice is the stunning bar that runs the length of the dining room.  The bar front is covered in silver tin tiles as a nod to the building’s history.  Moody dark blue walls are accented by pops of yellow.  Exposed plaster walls sit behind a lounge space with hip sofa seating. 1950’s diner-style light fixtures hang over cozy banquette seating.

A revamped menu offering classics with a twist

The menu has been slightly revamped as well. Cabigao said it is larger than the original Downtown SOB menu.  He added that the menus at both the Downtown and East Memphis location (opened in September 2020 at 5040 Sanderlin Ave.) will be the same.

The patio space at South of Beale's new location provides an outdoor dining option for customers, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Memphis, TN.

Corporate chef Anthony Fenech has worked with the Cabigaos to develop dishes with an adventurous twist.

“Dishes like our Soul Bowl are a good example of our twist on fried chicken,” said Cabigao.  This signature fusion item features Korean fried chicken with a drizzle of honey over a bed of kimchi collard greens.

A New York Strip is also a new addition to the menu. “This cut is a little more upscale,” said Cabigao. The strip comes with a side of Gouda mac ‘n cheese and an herb compound butter.

Popular items like the Duck Fried Rice, General Tso’s Cauliflower and Zaka Bowl have permanent spots on the menu.  The spiced popcorn regulars know and love will be served as well along with several vegetarian and gluten-free items.

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with brunch on Sundays only to start.

Brunch will feature a variety of items, including a Colorado-inspired breakfast burrito with green chili and braised pork and SOB’s “Loco Moco” (a Hawaiian / Filipino inspired rice and beef patty dish).

The cocktail and wine list have both been expanded. “We will have more cocktails and even a reserve wine list, and a little less beer,” Cabigao said of the changes.  A Smoked Old Fashioned that is presented to the table in a cloud of smoke is a drink he predicts will be a popular order at the Downtown location due to its success in East Memphis.

South of Beale's new location features a chic, well-stocked bar, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn.

The Cabigaos have leased the ten apartments upstairs to an Airbnb operator.  Cabigao predicts they will be a popular destination for those wanting to visit downtown. “Since the street has gotten so busy, the apartments are meant for an Airbnb or a hotel.”

The building at 361 S. Main St. has been leased to Good Fortune Company.  The dumpling and ramen restaurant is expected to open in late summer.

Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining Reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at jennifer.chandler@commercialappeal.com and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.

At a glance

South of Beale

Where: 345 S. Beale St.

Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday – Thursday and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Online: southofbeale.com

Phone: (901) 526-0388

Reservations: Resy

South Point Grocery Store Headed to South Main

Fresh foods will be the focal point of a new grocery store planned for Downtown Memphis.

Castle Retail Group, parent company of Cash Saver and High Point Grocery stores, will bring a new store to South Main at 136 Webster sometime this year. The store, to be called South Point Grocery, is sandwiched between Central Station on the west and the U.S. Postal Service facility on the east.

Tom Archer, owner and president of Archer Custom Builders, bought the building in 2017 with visions to bring a grocery store to Downtown Memphis. The store will be small — with a sales floor of about 8,000 square feet — compared to other stores. Its size and the neighborhood pushed the focus on fresh foods, said Rick James, owner and CEO of Castle Retail Group.

“We know in a space of this size, we’re not going to have 48-roll toilet paper; it just won’t work,” James said. “But we can handle high-end, fresh produce, deli, bakery, and a butcher shop. Quality and freshness would be two of the key words.”

We can handle high-end, fresh produce, deli, bakery, and a butcher shop. Quality and freshness would be two of the key words.

Rick James, owner and CEO Castle Retail Group

Another grocery store has been on the Downtown to-do list for more than a decade, as some have said Miss Cordelia’s feels far away and disconnected from Downtown’s Central Business District. For years, Downtowners have have told surveyors that another grocery store is a missing gap for the neighborhood. James said many now drive five miles to Midtown stores, like Cash Saver or Kroger, to stores in West Memphis, Arkansas, or to big-box stores like Costco on Germantown Parkway.

James and Archer said South Point Grocery makes sense now with Downtown’s new population density. Nearly 26,000 people lived Downtown last year, according to the latest numbers from the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), up slightly from the nearly 25,000 people who lived there in 2010.  DMC data says nearly 88,000 occupy Downtown during the day.

“We’ve been down here all these years and South Main has been kind of on the edge of busting wide open,” said Archer, whose company is headquartered on South Main. “We wanted to get ahead of that but it beat us. It’s been crazy down here the last couple of years. So, this is perfect timing.”

South Point Grocery was, in part, inspired by Castle’s success at High Point Grocery. James said before buying the beloved community grocery store, his company had not really done a small-format store. Without it, “we wouldn’t have had the confidence that we can” run a smaller store Downtown. Archer said he’d been looking for a partner for his Downtown grocery building, saw James talking about High Point Grocery on the news, and walked away impressed when he went to see it for himself.

The building features a parking deck on the east side with plenty of public parking available on Webster. A covered patio with ceiling fans front the street, which James said will be used for dining and, perhaps, live music.

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