Sweetie Pie’s Signs at Fourth and Beale

By Bill Dries

The Beale Street entertainment district has a new tenant on its eastern border with Fourth Street in a space that has been closed for 12 years.

Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris tweeted Thursday, April 10, that Sweetie Pie’s, a soul food restaurant with three locations in St. Louis and plans for expansion in other cities, will open at 349 Beale St. on the southeast corner of Fourth and Beale streets.

The Downtown Memphis Commission manages the Beale district for the city, with city divisions providing resources for the task. The commission’s role is expected to be interim through the end of this year with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. preparing to take a plan for the transition to a new manager and a proposed board to the Memphis City Council for approval.

Sweetie Pie’s is a sublease with Central Foods Inc., which has a long-term lease on the property.

The restaurant’s website bills it as “Mississippi Style Cookin’” and its owner, Robbie Montgomery, and her family are featured in the reality show “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.

The last tenant in the space was Have A Nice Day Café, a 1970s disco-themed restaurant that closed in 2002. Before that it had been Club Royale in a space that has been marketed for upscale restaurants since the district opened in 1983.

But keeping tenants in the only building at the intersection that is at the sidewalks has proven difficult.

The building sits across from a police substation on the other side of Beale with First Baptist Church of Beale on the southeast corner and Club Crave, the nightspot closed in late 2012 by authorities as a public nuisance, on the northeast corner.

The block of Beale from Hernando to Fourth streets has its mainstays like the New Daisy Theater, but has been more of a challenge in terms of long-term tenants than the two block of the district west of Hernando.

Meanwhile, signs for Blue Note Bar & Grill, a new restaurant at 341 Beale St., went up recently signaling more activity on a block in which Hard Rock Café is preparing to move to the Lansky Building at Second and Beale, on the other side of the western border of the entertainment district.