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VOL. 123 | NO. 222 | Wednesday, November 12, 2008

LoLo’s Table Closes Downtown

By Andy Meek

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ECONOMIC CASUALTY: After a roughly three-year run, LoLo’s Table at 128 Monroe Ave. has closed, citing the current economic slump. -- PHOTO BY ANDY MEEK

Another Downtown Memphis business has closed.

The owners of the 3-year-old bistro LoLo’s Table at 128 Monroe Ave. decided their restaurant can’t survive, a decision hastened by the broader slowdown in the economy. The last day of business was Saturday, after which the restaurant joined other Downtown businesses that have closed this year, including Muvico, Pat O’Brien’s and EP Delta Kitchen and Bar.

“What happened was it just – overall, it was a lack of revenue,” said Eric Bush, one of the owners of LoLo’s Table. “Over the last year or so, we just had been struggling to make it and finally decided it was time to move on.”

Getting on with it

The owners had spent years looking for the most viable space for the restaurant they opened in early 2005 before settling on a space next door to McEwen’s on Monroe. LoLo’s had about eight employees.

As part of the last night in business, the eatery served $3 drinks all night long and said tips for the evening would go toward an attempt to keep the restaurant open.

“I am personally sorry to hear that Lolo’s has closed,” said Jeff Sanford, president of the Center City Commission. “I know that its ownership struggled mightily to find a place in what has become a very competitive Downtown restaurant market. And, while I observe that in general Downtown businesses have been holding their own as the economy has faltered, the road ahead could be increasingly challenging.”

Changing face

The ownership group of Pat O’Brien’s, the once popular watering hole on Beale Street, certainly found that to be the case. 310 Beale Street Properties LLC and Hurricane Memphis LLC filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition for the restaurant in May, hours before a foreclosure sale was scheduled to occur on the southwest steps of the Shelby County Courthouse.

That bankruptcy case is pending. The Shopping Center Group is listing the Pat O’s space at 310 Beale and is shopping it around to potential buyers.

Pat O’Brien’s-Memphis still has not paid back more than $51,000 of a $62,000 development loan extended to the business in 2003. CCC chief financial officer Jim Street said he does not expect the group will receive any of that remaining loan balance.

Not all of the restaurant closures and changes that have occurred Downtown this year are attributable completely to the economy. Other factors played a role in, for example, the shuttering of Dan McGuinness Pub at Peabody Place Entertainment and Retail Center.

Belz Enterprises is repositioning Peabody Place into a largely hotel-based destination, and the owners of Dan McGuinness pulled out there as a result and decided to focus on the Dan McGuinness location at 4698 Spottswood Ave.

Bush said the owners of LoLo’s Table don’t plan to reopen or bring the concept back to the area at the moment, but that could be a possibility down the road.

“The math is unfortunately simple: As consumers throughout the community spend less in the face of a deteriorating economy, businesses will suffer,” Sanford said.

PROPERTY SALES 51 180 16,377
MORTGAGES 21 57 10,144
BUILDING PERMITS 103 665 39,209
BANKRUPTCIES 31 107 7,704