On the Menu

Majestic Grille plans cosmetic tweaks, dinner series launch

By Andy Meek

When Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr turned up for dinner at the Majestic Grille Friday night, it wasn’t as the guy in charge of the team trying to put a stop to the Memphis Grizzlies’ championship ambitions.

The Majestic Grille recently cemented its commitment to Downtown Memphis, renewing a 10,800-square-foot lease on the Main Street space. The Majestic’s owners also have plans to “polish up” the restaurant.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

He waited, like the rest of the night’s customers. And other than a few greetings, patrons generally left him alone.

The restaurant has worked to develop a relationship with the Grizzlies coaching staff and players over the years, said Majestic co-owner Deni Reilly. As a result, it frequently gets recommended to visiting teams.

Of course, it also draws a crowd made up of Downtowners, Orpheum theatergoers and attendees of Downtown concerts and festivals. Anyone who’s been inside recently or plans to visit for a meal soon will be greeted with the same busy scene.

The restaurant is bustling with activity at the moment

The Majestic just signed a 10-year lease renewal for its 10,800-square-foot Downtown space on Main Street between Peabody Place and Gayoso Avenue.

The space, which began its life as a silent movie house, also is getting some cosmetic improvements. For some of the changes, the restaurant has been working with Scott Blake, owner and creative director of the firm Design 500.

Majestic Grille owners Patrick and Deni Reilly, with 2-year-old son Seamus, are planning upgrades to the restaurant after reupping with a 10-year lease renewal.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“We just redid one of the meeting spaces in the back,” Reilly said. “It’s such a great, beautiful, historic building, and we’re generally polishing it up a bit, repainting, possibly working on some of the railing and woodwork inside.”

The Majestic also is planning a dinner series that includes 10 dinners spread through next May, when it will celebrate its 10th anniversary. The next dinner happens June 9, when the restaurant hosts a paella party on the patio. August’s dinner theme will be vegetarian, while September will see a French bistro dinner.

Both the attractiveness of the restaurant’s building and what’s gone on inside it over the years have helped cement the Majestic’s prominence on the Downtown scene. It once housed the Majestic No. 1 Theatre, owned by Bert Jordan, reportedly one of the first theater managers in the country to get a film sent from Hollywood via an extraordinary new delivery system: a plane.

In a later iteration of the space, it 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 salesman.

“We love Downtown,” Reilly said. “We’ve had people talk to us about doing this in other parts of the city, but we live Downtown and we just love it here. And we want the restaurant to be approachable to so many people.”

“It’s such a great, beautiful, historic building, and we’re generally polishing it up a bit, repainting, possibly working on some of the railing and woodwork inside.”

–Deni Reilly
The Majestic Grille

That includes visiting NBA teams, with Reilly humorously pointing out the restaurant has ceilings and tables that are large enough “to accommodate those super tall guys.”

Back in 2005, the Reillys – including Deni’s husband Patrick, the restaurant’s chef – started construction on what would become the Majestic Grille, opening it the following year.

“Being open for almost 10 years now feels like a big deal,” Reilly said. “I still can’t believe it. In some respects, it still feels like we just opened yesterday.”