VOL. 131 | NO. 68 | Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Loflin Yard Pays Attention to Residents
By Madeline Faber
This week, a “rural oasis” opens for business in the middle of Downtown Memphis. That’s developer Taylor Berger’s vision for Loflin Yard, an acre-wide outdoor destination with pit barbecue, live music and barrel-aged cocktails.
The site opens to the public on April 7.
Surrounding the site at 7 Carolina Ave. are hundreds of newly built apartment units in properties like South Junction Apartments, Lofts at South Bluffs and the upcoming Central Station mixed-use development. Nearly 3,000 residents live in this dense residential corner of Downtown, and the nearest restaurants, The Arcade and The Blue Monkey, are many blocks away.
Loflin Yard provides a bar, restaurant, gathering space and general park area in the heart of a dense urban center.
“I’ve always thought of this as being the backyard of all these apartments,” Berger said.
The concept includes three buildings connected by a sprawling yard. The name Loflin Yard comes from the main building’s original use as a Loflin Safe & Lock Co.
A heavy-duty safe makes up the backbone of a repurposed wooden bar in the 2,000-square-foot Safe House. People can order sharing plates, craft cocktails and seasonal wine to eat in the 60-seat restaurant or out on the greater lawn.
The upper floor of the Safe House is a private residence which could be used for short-term rentals.
Connected to the Safe House is an open-pit barbecue den, dubbed the Smoke House. Smoked meats and fish are on the menu with barbecue-style sides like slaw and beans. The executive chef is Andy Knight, who has also worked at Bounty and Restaurant Iris.
People wanting to soak in the 10,000 square feet of green space can also order from the Safe House’s outside-facing counter. The centerpiece of the lawn is a massive deck that stretches over a waterfall fed by the Gayoso Bayou.
On the opposite side of the lawn is the Coach House. The 5,000-square-foot barn used to house Peabody Hotel carriage horses. The final use of the barn is still being decided. Berger said that event rentals or a music venue are possible.
A wide wooden deck, complete with rocking chairs, connects the Coach House to the greater lawn.
Still further in development is a 14,000-square-foot grassy lot bordered by a railway that carries over to the Harahan Bridge. The lot could be used for parking if needed, but Berger said he prefers a “festival space.”
“We’re wiring it up to have bands on a platform,” he added.
Next Wednesday, April 13, Loflin Yard hopes to kick off a music series dubbed Live at Loflin with the help of Kevin Cubbins, executive director of radio series Beale Street Caravan.
Berger is one of a handful of partners behind the project. The other investors include Andy Cates, CEO of Colliers International Memphis; Brad Barnett, owner and operator of Landscape Services Group; Thomas Whitehead, marketing professional with FedEx Services; lawyer Michael Tauer; and Doug Carpenter, principal with marketing agency DCA.
“It’s conceivable that you could have three, separate large-scale gatherings going on at the same time,” Carpenter said, adding that Loflin Yard could fit hundreds of people.
While the area is open to the public, the developers are focused on the surrounding residential neighborhood that’s starved for retail options. Prior to the public opening on Thursday, Loflin Yard is hosting a neighborhood-only evening for the area’s residents.
Carpenter said that Loflin Yard feeds off of and contributes to the residential momentum in the South End.
“The more people there are, the more likely something like this is going to be successful and make the whole area more desirable,” he added.