Berger Withdraws From Commission Race

By Andy Meek

In a somewhat abrupt turnaround, Memphis businessman Taylor Berger has decided to withdraw his candidacy for the Shelby County Commission about a month after announcing his intent to run for the District 5 seat.

BERGER

“There’s no way I can do this,” Berger told The Daily News minutes after sending an email to his distribution list Monday, March 31, announcing his withdrawal. “Since my fundraiser, I just realized this was going to take way too much time, more than I’m going to be able to give. I’ve got to keep my family and business intact.”

His private sector initiatives have mounted both before and since he announced his candidacy. He listed such efforts as his involvement in a short-term redevelopment of the Tennessee Brewery, plus involvement in the Make Memphis civic group as well as with three restaurants as reasons why he couldn’t commit to the time required for politics.

In the email, Berger described himself as a marketing consultant who’s also completing the requirements needed to obtain his real estate license.

“I ran because I wanted to make a difference. I still do,” his note reads. “I just think I can make a bigger one as a private citizen rather than a politician.

“My wife Alison works, and we have two young children. I’m helping open three restaurants this summer, plus Tennessee Brewery Untapped. … I am committed to Make Memphis and several other nonprofit and faith-based initiatives. To run this race right, I’d jeopardize my family and business.”

Berger is an attorney and business owner who helped found YoLo, Memphis’ first self-service frozen yogurt shop, and restaurants like Tamp & Tap and Chiwawa as well as the nonprofit Memphis Food Truck Association.

The brewery project he’s involved with in recent days attracted attention for new details about the plans there for what will be known as “Tennessee Brewery Untapped.”

That effort starting in late April will be a six-week “temporary activation” of the long-vacant brewery. It will include a mix of regular and spontaneous programming, including a café serving locally sourced beverages, food trucks, mobile retail, live music, movie screenings, workshops and other kinds of “do-it-yourself, makeshift fun,” according to the project’s organizers.

Those organizers are a team of planners, citizens and activists who include commercial real estate broker Andy Cates and communications professional Doug Carpenter, plus Berger. Also playing a part is the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, which is advising the group, plus Memphis Botanic Garden and the Memphis Regional Design Center.