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VOL. 130 | NO. 235 | Thursday, December 3, 2015

Feast On: Looking Back at Busy 2015 for Memphis Restaurants

By Andy Meek

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Belly Acres co-owner Ben McLean can hardly believe it’s been a year since his farm-to-table burger restaurant in Overton Square first opened its doors.

Sara Furnivall expedites orders during a lunch rush at Belly Acres, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary in Overton Square with tentative plans to open a second location in Germantown.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The one-year anniversary for the restaurant is easy to remember – Dec. 13, or 12/13/14. Diners have greeted Belly Acres so warmly, McLean said, that ownership is in talks to open another in Germantown.

“We’d also like to grow even past that, to Nashville and beyond,” said McLean of the memorably designed restaurant whose farm motif includes a tractor inside, a windmill near the front door and a large crop duster running through one of the walls.

“That’s our goal, to grow the concept,” he said. “We think the sky is the limit and that we’ve got a product Memphis can be proud of.”

He’s not the only one. The past 12 months have proven a banner year for foodies, with loads of restaurant industry news to feast on – including plenty of new arrivals as well as more announced dining establishments poised to come soon.

As The Daily News first reported in August, Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana founder Jose “Pepe” Magallanes has plans in the works for an expansion to East Memphis. He said this week that expansion – the opening of a sister restaurant under a new name, El Pedregal, at 6300 Poplar Ave. – is still on track and that he’s hopeful construction can begin before year’s end.

He estimates it would then take another five to six months before the new place is up and running. Magallanes, who’s in his 70s now, wasn’t shy about letting his giddiness show about not only how much he enjoys still coming to work (“I tried retirement. And I didn’t like it!”) but also how much he’s looking forward to finally opening a new location.

While that one is still on the way, plenty more already have opened their doors. Among the new arrivals – by no means a comprehensive list – there’s Staks, a pancake house that opened a few months ago in East Memphis’ Laurelwood Collection.

LYFE Kitchen opened its first Memphis restaurant in the former Sharky’s space near Poplar and Ridgeway Road. The company, now based in Memphis, also is opening another location in The Chisca on Main development Downtown.

Another Broken Egg Cafe landed sunny side up in Park Place Centre earlier this year, bringing its Southern-inspired breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch to Memphis foodies. Pink Diva Cupcakery opened on Florida Street in the old DeJaVu Restaurant location. Cassi Conyers, who’d been baking and selling her vegan cupcakes out of the Midtown Crossing Grill in the Crosstown neighborhood, went to grab some tacos one day at DeJaVu’s 51 S. Main St. location.

Dante Sloan works the flat top at Belly Acres in Overton Square. The farm-to-table burger restaurant opened almost exactly a year ago.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Before she knew it, DeJaVu owner and chef Gary Williams said she could take over the lease at the 1,000-square-foot Florida Street restaurant.

Among other new arrivals, Cheesecake Factory opened one of the California-based restaurant chain’s signature restaurants at Wolfchase Galleria. Excitement for it was building even before official word came that it was in the works, with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton setting off plenty of chatter when he suggested the chain was eyeing Memphis during his annual state of the city address.

In other news, Chiwawa shut its doors in Midtown. Owner Daniel Flanagan, though, also opened a new location of his Tamp and Tap coffee shop in East Memphis at 6070 Poplar Ave.

Among the restaurants coming soon that got announced at various points this year:

The Fino’s East Memphis location opens to the public Friday, Dec. 4. It’s in a prime spot for restaurants, situated between Brookhaven Pub & Grill and Hog & Hominy.

Frida’s Mexican Restaurante is set to open its second location in Collierville’s Carriage Crossing outdoor mall. The Mexican restaurant will feature an outdoor patio and will be located near the Courtyard by Marriott, next to Portrait Innovations.

Kimbal Musk, the brother of famed Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is bringing The Kitchen, one of his restaurant concepts that focuses on promoting healthy eating habits through fresh food options, to Memphis. It will open at Shelby Farms to complement The Kitchen Next Door, a slightly less expensive community pub in the Crosstown Concourse.

A pair of restaurants is on the way to Saddle Creek. Grimaldi’s Pizza is opening a 3,500-square-foot restaurant in the spring. Stoney River Steakhouse is also joining Saddle Creek early next year.

Finally, chefs Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer are stepping out of Brookhaven Circle for the first time to expand their restaurant interests, with a new concept – their fourth – planned for The Chisca.

Catherine and Mary’s, named for the pair’s grandmothers Catherine Chiozza and Mary Spinosa, will join LYFE Kitchen on the Chisca’s first level and offer traditional Italian cooking featuring things like pastas, open-fire cooking and an ambience inspired by the building’s historic interior.

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