VOL. 112 | NO. 37 | Tuesday, March 10, 1998
By LAURIE JOHNSON
New restaurant aims to make Memphians fond of fondue
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
Construction started Monday on Memphis first Melting Pot fondue restaurant at 2828 Wolf Creek Parkway in East Memphis near Cordova.
The restaurant will occupy 5,000 square feet of space in the Shops of Wolf Creek retail center, and it is scheduled to open May 9, said co-owner Lisa B. Douglas, who is developing the franchise with husband R. Eric Douglas.
A building permit valued at $215,000 was issued to Venture Construction Co. Inc. for construction of the project, according to Shelby County Code Enforcement records.
The Memphis restaurant will be located on the south end of the Shops of Wolf Creek, which is being developed by Trezevant Realty and is still under construction. The shopping center is part of The Market at Wolf Creek commercial development.
"Weve been in the restaurant business for a while and thought there was a need for something new," said Douglas, whose company, D Squared Enterprises of the Mid-South, also owns several Subway sandwich shop franchises in the area.
"This area has been growing so quickly, and so many of these restaurants offer the same type of food. We thought the Melting Pot would offer a fun, unique dining experience. Theres certainly nothing else like it here."
The Melting Pot Restaurants Inc. is a Tampa, Fla.-based chain that specializes in fondue-style dishes, including beef, chicken, seafood and vegetable entrees as well as melted cheese appetizers and chocolate fondue desserts.
"A lot of people have in their minds that fondue is just melted cheese, but its a lot more than that," said Shiella Rucker, executive assistant at D Squared Enterprises.
At The Melting Pot, an electric burner is mounted in the center of the table, and fondue pots containing melted cheese, canola oil, bouillon (a low-fat alternative to oil) or chocolate are brought to the table.
Keith Smith, project manager for Venture Construction, the general contractor for the project, said the restaurant will have half booths and larger cooking tables with oak, bench-style seats and tile tabletops, as well as dim lighting, built-in archways and light fixtures fashioned from wine bottles.
When it opens, the Memphis restaurant will seat about 175 and will employ a staff of about 30 to 40.
Its annual gross income is expected to exceed $1 million, Douglas said.
Menu prices at The Melting Pot will range from about $12 for a vegetarian entree to $25 for a lobster tail dinner. Appetizers will be about $7, and desserts will range in price from about $8 to $20.
Douglas said she and her husband decided to bring The Melting Pot concept to Memphis after eating at one in Tampa.
The Memphis restaurant will be the Douglas second Melting Pot franchise. The couple opened one in Birmingham, Ala., in December.
"The one we have up and running in Birmingham is doing very well," Douglas said.
Douglas said she expects the Memphis store to do just as well, based on feedback she already has received from the community.
"Weve already been getting phone calls from people in Memphis trying to make reservations and were not even open yet. A lot of people are waiting for this to open, so we expect to do very, very well.
The Memphis restaurant will be the first of its kind in West Tennessee, and the third in the state. Other Melting Pot locations are in Nashville and Knoxville.
The Melting Pot franchise was founded in 1975 and now has 42 franchises and four company-owned restaurants in 16 states.
The company plans to open 10 new locations in the next 12 months.