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VOL. 128 | NO. 224 | Friday, November 15, 2013

Felicia Suzanne’s Celebrates 12 Years With New Patio, Concept

By Andy Meek

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Felicia Suzanne’s Downtown Memphis restaurant is coming up on its 12th birthday, and the eatery has been in the midst of a flurry of changes.

WILLETT

That’s in keeping with owner Felicia Willett’s philosophy that change has to be constant – and embraced – at a business that wants to stick around for the long term. To that end, her restaurant unveiled renovations to its patio this week, as well as updated its drink menu and introduced a new farm table concept.

“You have to keep things evolving and changing so people don’t forget about you,” Willett said. “You can’t rest on your laurels. I never set out to have multiple restaurants, so I kind of invent different areas under one space.”

The restaurant’s patio, she explained, has been a focus this past year.

“It had probably been the most under-utilized patio in the city – and it’s one of the prettiest,” she said. “I had a lot of conversations with (designer) Graham Reese about what we could do, and we built a game plan.”

Those patio renovations have included a new bar, patio furniture and menu offerings. The changes were unveiled this week at a fundraiser Felicia Suzanne’s hosted Nov. 14 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation in honor of Movember, the push in November for men to grow mustaches and beards as part of an international awareness and fundraising effort for prostate and testicular cancer research.

The restaurant’s event was held in honor of Willett’s father, who died of cancer in 2008.

In addition to unveiling the new patio, meanwhile, Willett also has introduced a new farm table concept at the restaurant.

Going forward, there will be two tables reserved for groups of eight to 10 people. They’ll need to be reserved at least 24 hours in advance and will cost around $30 to $35 per person.

The type of food the group wants will be discussed at the time the reservation is made, and Willett said it will be an opportunity for a menu to be dynamic and tailored to the group’s tastes – perhaps “a pasta tasting one day and burgers and fries the next.”

It’s also an opportunity for Willett to cook things she wouldn’t normally serve in the restaurant, like Italian food and lunch-oriented items.

“Farm tables are very popular in northwestern states like Oregon, and I wanted to bring the concept to Memphis,” Willett said. “The tables are really a tie-in and a balance between what I create in my personal and professional life. I’m taking the meals I make for guests in my home and bringing them to my patio.”

The restaurant relied on several local companies and Memphians to help with its recent changes. Reese was responsible for the patio’s visual redesign. Michael Hughes created the restaurant’s new cocktail menu, Bret Wyatt built the bar and hostess stand, Memphis Contract Furniture created the two custom farm tables and Schwartz Electric handled the electricity hook-up.

In other Felicia Suzanne’s news, the restaurant has been celebrating its 11th anniversary this year with its 11 Months of Giving campaign. Every third Wednesday of the month, guests visit the restaurant for drinks and small bites at the bar, and a donation of $25 for the night’s tasting menu goes to a featured charity of the month.

Willett opened the restaurant in 2002.

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