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VOL. 126 | NO. 82 | Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Midtown Changer

The Slider Inn brings taste of Downtown to Peabody Avenue

By Sarah Baker

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By the end of 2011, Bardog Tavern owner Aldo DeMartino will have two new Memphis restaurant concepts up and running.

Aldo DeMartino, right, owner of Bardog Tavern, speaks to Bill Grieme of Trace Electric Co. near the bar area of The Slider Inn, which will soon open at 2117 Peabody Ave. in Midtown.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

First, The Slider Inn, 2117 Peabody Ave., will fill the 1,200-square-foot space formerly occupied by Bluff City Bayou. The owners, Les Carloss and Jeff Corrigan, moved from the Edge District to the Midtown spot in 2009 and closed it shortly after to pursue catering endeavors.

Before that it was the bar One More, which opened there in 1996 and was a mainstay until it ran into financial trouble.

In August 2009, the Tennessee Department of Revenue filed a tax lien against the owner, One More Inc., for assessed taxes, penalties and interest.

DeMartino said the southwest corner of Peabody and Cooper will be perfect for his slider restaurant.

“I like that neighborhood, I think that’s a fantastic location,” he said. “I know it’s had successful records and operations there and I think we can replicate that with this concept.”

The new restaurant is just a stone’s throw from other long-time Midtown favorites such as Café 1912, Otherlands Coffee Bar, Easy Way and even the recent Urban Outfitters three blocks to the south.

“(The Slider Inn)’s a good, creative re-use of that second generation restaurant,” said Rasberry Commercial Real Estate’s Robert Taylor, who brokered both the Bluff City and Slider Inn transactions. “It’s a great corner at the light of Peabody and Cooper, it’s a really great location. I think they’ll kill it there.”

The Slider Inn’s menu will feature Bardog Tavern’s traditional slider, except slightly elevated and more fun, DeMartino said.

“Anybody can have a burger on their menu, but at the time three years ago, sliders were still unique Downtown, and I thought that would be a nice little tricky sandwich to have on the menu and it worked out for us,” he said. “We sell probably 150 sliders a day and we’re going to expand on that at The Slider Inn.”

Styles of sliders will include blue cheese and caramelized onions, mushrooms and Swiss cheese and even chicken finger sliders. The menu will also vary depending on the day of the week to include tuna melts, fish tacos and a lobster roll with fresh imported Maine lobster.

With the exception of the lobster roll, everything will be priced at less than $10.

The former Bluff City Bayou at 2117 Peabody Ave. will reopen as The Slider Inn.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

“We don’t want to break anybody’s bank,” DeMartino said. “The slider really is supposed to be like a roadside, California burger shack – the place that you stop by on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, have a drink on the deck, have a burger, maybe listen to some live music – it’s just going to be a fun, friendly, cozy neighborhood joint.”

The Slider Inn will be 21 and older, with smoking only allowed after 9 p.m. Including the deck – which is about the same size as the brick and mortar space – the restaurant has the potential to seat about 80 to 110 people.

And with limited parking, DeMartino wanted a designated space for two wheels to attract Midtowners to walk and bike to their destination.

“I definitely want to offer the community a place to go with their bicycle – be able to lock them up, have them right there outside on the deck so they’re visible,” DeMartino said. “I think what makes cities safer than anything is people walking around.”

The foot traffic on Downtown’s Main Street also appealed to DeMartino. After The Slider Inn opens its doors in mid-May, the restaurant owner will shift his focus to Aldo’s Pizza Pies, leasing a 3,900-square-foot space in the ground level of Henry Turley Co.’s Barboro Flats, 64 S. Main St.

“It’s going to be in the spotlight,” DeMartino said. “It might not necessarily be a renters market, but it’s not anti-renters, either. It’s the newest building on Main Street, it’s just amazing.”

Aldo’s lease starts June 15, and expects to be ready for business by the close of the year. 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.”

As far as expanding into other cities, only time will tell. Right now, the importance is to build the brand with a fantastic product before taking it to another location, DeMartino said.

“I wouldn’t expand Bardog in Memphis, though, because I don’t want to dilute it,” he said. “It’s a real special thing going on at the tavern, and if I wanted to grow it, it would just be in three or four other locations, and we would do it with integrity and with the same sense of fun that we opened this place in September 2008.”

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