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VOL. 128 | NO. 196 | Tuesday, October 8, 2013

100 Candles

The Majestic Grille throws a bash for its historic Main Street home

By Andy Meek

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An appreciation of the past is practically a requirement for visitors of the Majestic Grille, 145 S. Main St., a storied Downtown eatery housed in a space with a terra cotta facade, beaux arts decor and even an old movie screen inside.

Patrick Reilly and his wife, Deni, opened the Majestic Grille at 145 S. Main St. in 2006. The couple will throw a bash Wednesday, Oct. 9, to celebrate the 100th birthday of the building the restaurant calls home. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

This week, in fact, the owners of the restaurant are throwing a bash to encourage that appreciation. On Wednesday, Oct. 9, they’re inviting the public to help celebrate the 100th birthday of the building the restaurant calls home, a building that’s stood at the epicenter of change and watched change happen inside it, as well.

The party at the restaurant will include food and drinks. To help provide the appropriate backdrop, attendees will be able to get their pictures taken in a period setting, a band will play music from the era and some century-old films will be shown on a movie screen.

“It’s a lot of fun to be able to celebrate this,” said Deni Reilly, one of the owners of the Majestic Grille. “We feel like the restaurant is a partner with this building.”

She and her husband, Patrick, opened the restaurant in 2006, and they’ve attempted to constantly both preserve and further bring out the locale’s charm.

Pointing toward its physical features, Reilly said she loves the lights on the exterior and the terra cotta facade, a rarity in the city.

The facade is so old and historic, she explained, that the owners can’t exactly call up someone to replace it if something happened to it. As a way around that, the Majestic uses Metro Construction for such work, and Reilly said Metro has made plaster moldings of all the tile work on the outside so they can replace it if it breaks.

The building housing the Majestic opened its doors about 100 years ago, starting its life as the Majestic No. 1 Theatre. It began as a silent-picture house, part of a series of cinemas throughout the city owned by the Jordan family.

“Inside, I also love the screen we have in there and the movies we can show on it,” she said.

It operated as a theater until the late 1920s, according to Reilly, and had about 1,000 seats, an orchestra pit and an organ that rose up out of the stage. The theater’s general manager would stand outside in his tuxedo welcoming patrons, and the owners used to get their whole family, who lived in Victorian Village, in on promoting firms.

Bert Jordan also was reportedly one of the first theater managers in the country to get a film sent from Hollywood via a fancy new delivery system – a plane.

The building’s next chapter began to be set in motion in the late 1920s, as “talkies” were released and rendered silent-picture houses that didn’t make the transition obsolete.

Several years later, the building housed a men’s clothing store – the Julius Lewis Men’s Shop. Veteran Memphis real estate developer Henry Turley once worked there, as a big- and tall-clothing salesman.

After that, and on up until recent years, the building served as a mattress warehouse, the home of Blue Light Studio, and Downtown microbreweries Breckenridge Brewery and then Gordon Biersch.

The Reillys started construction for what would become the Majestic Grille in 2005 and opened the restaurant the following year.

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