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VOL. 128 | NO. 85 | Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beale Street Landing Eatery Search Resumes

By Bill Dries

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There were some signs early on that finding a restaurant operator for Beale Street Landing might be difficult.

Construction work on the Beale Street Landing building was underway a year ago. A year later, contract negotations with a restaurant operator have fallen through.

(Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey)

The date for the restaurant to open kept getting pushed back and the contract remained unsigned long after it was announced that Beale & Second Inc. had tentatively agreed to operate the restaurant.

Riverfront Development Corp. President Benny Lendermon said last month on the WKNO-TV program “Behind The Headlines” that the partners intended to be built out and up and running in April but that he doubted the details would be worked out by then.

Finally, negotiations on terms of the opening of the restaurant were “suspended indefinitely” by the RDC over the weekend, according to a written statement from the corporation issued Monday, April 29.

“This decision was made after consensus could not be reached on several key issues during the final stages of negotiations,” the statement reads. “At this time, both parties have agreed not to move forward.”

Meanwhile, Bud Chittom, one of the partners in Beale & Second, opened Jerry Lee Lewis’s Café and Honky Tonk on Beale Street over the weekend at what was the old Pat O’Brien’s bar and restaurant at 310 Beale St.

The Beale Street Landing restaurant has been booked for several special events including weddings and private parties in the last month and future bookings will be honored as the Riverfront Development Corp. seeks a new restaurant operator.

“We don’t want to rush into a situation based on an arbitrary timeline,” Lendermon said in a written statement. “Rather, we want to make the right strategic decisions for our patrons and users of Beale Street Landing.”

“We don’t want to rush into a situation based on an arbitrary timeline.”

–Benny Lendermon
President, Riverfront Development Corp.

The building still includes the ticket offices and souvenir shop for Memphis Riverboats, the company that offers daily river cruises that moved into the facility in March at the start of the local river cruise season.

Beale & Second wanted to open before the Memphis in May International Festival begins this weekend with the Beale Street Music Festival because once the festival begins its month-long run, access to the landing and the adjoining Tom Lee Park that it is also a part of is even more limited.

Riverside Drive partially closed for staging of the festival over the weekend with two-way auto traffic diverted to the northbound bluff lanes. Riverside Drive between Union and Georgia avenues will be closed May 2-6, May 11-19 and May 24-26.

Among the items still being discussed when the decision was made to suspend talks about the restaurant contract was access to parking. The landing footprint includes a gated parking lot and access by those on foot still involves crossing Riverside Drive at Beale Street.

Lendermon has also acknowledged that the RDC wanted the restaurant operator to be a number of things in line with the various reasons people come to the riverfront. For some it would be for a formal sit-down dinner. But other customers might just come in to get a drink or sandwich. Still others might come for an after-work drink or to watch the sunset from inside an air-conditioned restaurant.

PROPERTY SALES 88 88 7,923
MORTGAGES 119 119 8,904
BUILDING PERMITS 253 253 17,320
BANKRUPTCIES 42 42 5,201