VOL. 129 | NO. 18 | Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Lost Pizza to Open in East Memphis in March
By Andy Meek
The Lost Pizza Co. is about two months away from opening the first Memphis location for its fast-casual restaurant concept.
Will McPherson, president of JJ Brothers LLC, said his franchise operation is shooting for an opening date of March 21 for Lost Pizza’s Chickasaw Crossing Shopping Center location. That’s where the company has signed a lease for the 4,500-square-foot end cap that previously housed the original Ronnie Grisanti’s restaurant.
Lost Pizza Co. is opening a Memphis restaurant on Poplar Avenue in March that will bring the first of several locations with the chain’s funky vibe and decor to the city.
Beyond that, McPherson – whose company bought Lost Pizza’s franchise rights for the area and includes Bill McPherson and sons Will and Jones – said the plan is to get several more locations locked down.
“We are looking to expand,” McPherson said. “I’d like to ideally get about a few more Lost Pizzas in the Memphis area. We’re looking at the Germantown, Collierville market and possibly East Memphis and possibly Jackson, Tenn. Those are markets we’re interested in expanding into in the future.”
The Chickasaw Crossing location, McPherson estimated, is about 40 percent finished with construction. It will have a large patio outside and up to 140 seats inside, in addition to offering lunch, dinner and a full bar.
When it opens, it will be the newest entry point for pizza lovers into the concept started in 2007 by two friends, Brooks Roberts and Preston Lott, in Indianola, Miss. Their idea was to open a pizza joint that served affordable food in a Delta Blues-meets-old-school pizza joint atmosphere, where guests could enjoy things like cold beer and fresh pizza.
One of the defining features of Lost Pizza is that no two locations look the same. They have unique build-outs and decor and are filled inside with Delta relics and art that give diners the feeling they’re eating quality Italian food surrounded by folksy relics out of something like a hip museum.
The company’s theme is “Get Lost,” with the idea being that diners will get lost in the food and atmosphere. One recent Yelp reviewer who visited the Lost Pizza in Cleveland, Miss., wrote that “I’m writing this review a month later, but I can still taste the amazing pizza we ordered.”
The menu includes pizzas, pasta, salads and more. Among the draws it presents to customers, the company advertises that dough is made from scratch each day, sauces are made fresh daily, vegetables are sliced fresh each morning, only all-natural meats are used and the cheese is a custom blend of all-natural high-quality house cheeses.
Not long after launching, Lost Pizza began to be approached by various groups wanting to franchise the concept across the Mississippi Delta and beyond. The McPherson family of Indianola decided to become one of those franchisees, formed JJ Brothers, and brought on veteran restaurateur Jim Hunter Walsh as director of operations.
Over the next three years, JJ Brothers would like to open eight to 12 locations in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.
As growth continues, especially thanks to franchisees like JJ Brothers, Lost Pizza is promising to retain its original spirit. According to marketing material for Lost Pizza, the vision continues to be for the “dining experience to be as fun as getting to go see the bearded lady, riding a camel, while swallowing a sword at the state fair when you were 10 years old.”