VOL. 129 | NO. 110 | Friday, June 6, 2014
Autobahn Garage Owner Looks to Sell
By Amos Maki
It was 1975 when Brian Ragghianti moved into the automobile service center shop at 2218 Central Ave., better known as the Autobahn Garage.
After nearly four decades of operating the shop, Ragghianti has decided it is time to sell the Midtown institution.
“Do you what time it is?” asked Ragghianti. “It’s retirement.”
Construction on the 1,438-square-foot building began in 1923 and it was completed in 1924, Ragghianti said.
“No major changes to the structure have changed since then,” said Ragghianti. “It’s got huge oak beams that go the full length of it. You look at how they used to do things and it’s still there after all these years. Stuff built all those years ago was built to stand the test of time.”
Ragghianti, who leased the property before buying it in 1980, is one of the longest tenured business owners in the area and said he has been amazed by the turnaround in Cooper-Young.
“We’ve watched it go from the pit all the way back up,” said Ragghianti, who hopes someone active in the Cooper-Young Historic District can buy it and keep the building intact. “I would really like to see a neighborhood person take over. I’d just hate to see it get chopped up and thrown away. We’re cleaning her up now, making her presentable.”
Ragghianti said that in a perfect world he’d like to see the building remain as an automotive service center but he understands potential buyers might have different ideas about the highest and best use of the property.
“It would be nice to sell it as a garage but who knows?” he said. “People could look to do a lot of different things there.”
In other news, an East Memphis institution is getting a makeover to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The Crescent Club in Memphis, on the top floor of the Crescent Center and a member of the ClubCorp family of clubs, is undergoing an extensive multimillion-dollar renovation. The overhaul of what has been the city’s premier business and social club includes a new bar, dining space, multimedia office center, lounge and lobby.
“These renovations, along with new membership benefits and programming, will allow us to continue that tradition while revitalizing and reinventing the club as an even more integral part of the community,” said general manager Charles Shepherd.
The Crump Firm is overseeing the redesign.
The new Anytime Bar and Lounge will feature a dual-side fireplace, banquet seating and custom guitar display, while the new 12 Bar will offer a more casual atmosphere for members to connect with clients, colleagues, friends and family.
A new multimedia area will include an 80-inch television and technology ports for rapid device charging and remote work options.
The project also includes a brighter, more modern entryway with a stylish new seating area and receptionist desk.
In other news, one of the city’s hottest chefs is still exploring getting involved with one of the city’s hippest bars and restaurants.
Chef Kelly English is in talks with property owner Bud Chittom to take over Earnestine & Hazel’s in the South Main Historic Arts District, or at least a part of it.
English said he had not signed yet a contract and was tight-lipped about his plans for the property.
“It’s premature at this point,” said English.
Chittom deferred to English, but heaped praise on the chef, whose Restaurant Iris and The Second Line have become Memphis favorites.
“He and I have been talking some business but it’s up to him to comment,” said Chittom. “I would love to do anything he wanted to do because I really consider him to be the best and brightest.”
Serving its famous Soulburgers and with a juke box stocked with old school classics, Earnestine & Hazel’s might be the city’s most cherished dive bar. Longtime operator Russell George committed suicide in September.
English has informed people he wouldn’t do anything to change the character of Earnestine & Hazel’s. The small Five Spot restaurant location that is part of the property would give English the opportunity use his considerable talents.