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VOL. 132 | NO. 257 | Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tiki Bar Joins List of New Memphis Restaurants

By Andy Meek

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Memphis’ restaurant community will get a little bigger almost immediately in 2018, with a new tiki bar concept in Midtown courtesy of Hi-Tone owner Brian “Skinny” McCabe and restaurateur Jeff Johnson.

Atomic Tiki, at 1545 Overton Park Ave., will likely open the second week of January, according to McCabe. The only box left to check is securing the liquor license for the bar, which McCabe said will have “fruity drinks and a relaxed atmosphere with an island kind of feel.”

Word of the opening comes as other restaurants have, as 2017 draws to a close, likewise announced plans to expand or open new locations here early in 2018.

Atomic Tiki is a concept McCabe has wanted to bring to Memphis after hanging out at a similar establishment in Pittsburgh a few times.


“We want it to feel like you’re not in Memphis anymore,” said McCabe, who in addition to owning the Hi-Tone and co-owning Atomic Tiki also co-owns the T-shirt company Dirty Cotton with his wife. “That’s how a tiki bar should be, I think.

“I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons. I love a good challenge. And the concept is something Memphis hasn’t had in forever. Ours is kind of sleek, but they can get pretty gaudy. Lots of bamboo. What’s that dinner scene in Goodfellas? Where it’s like real low lighting, cabana-style, lots of wicker, straw. A real just chill atmosphere.”

The menu will include items like island-inspired nachos, chips and salsa, plus dinner entrees – which McCabe said could include dishes like Polynesian spiced wings.

As far as beers, the aim will be to keep the offerings as local as possible, though he’s not sure what the final lineup will be yet. The aim will be to “listen to people” and be open to suggestions of what customers want.

“The tiki bar kind of yacht club-type feel isn’t real beer heavy,” McCabe said. “But there are people out there who don’t want something like a Mai Tai, a fruity cocktail with an umbrella. We’re going to try to offer the staples and then listen to people to see what they want.

“That’s the thing (with a bar/restaurant), it can be a rat race trying to keep up. Everybody likes their staples. Their go-to’s. But then all of a sudden it can change one day, out of nowhere. It’s just trying to keep up with people and give them what they want.”

Johnson has used the space at 1545 Overton Park Ave. – which has previously housed concepts like Evergreen Grill – to hold pop-ups.

The Atomic Tiki bar opening soon at the spot, meanwhile, continues the momentum the city’s restaurant scene enjoyed in 2017 and appears set to continue heading into the new year.

Atomic Tiki also continues one of the big themes of 2017, as far as restaurants go – the frequency with which fresh concepts came online in a city that’s seen the idea of food trucks begin to mature and the expectation that pop-ups can turn into something more permanent.

For a run-down on some of what transpired on the restaurant scene this year in Memphis, check out The Daily News’ cover story on the sector. Other restaurant openings that were announced in the days following the story’s publication include Central BBQ’s plan to open a fourth Memphis-area restaurant at 6201 Poplar Ave. in late spring 2018. It will open in space that formerly housed LYFE Kitchen, between Poplar and Park avenues and east of Ridgeway Road.

Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s, which is part arcade and part restaurant, has also announced it will open its 107th location in Memphis in February. It’s coming to The Commons of Wolfcreek shopping center across from the Wolfchase Galleria mall, in space that formerly housed a Sports Authority store.

The chain is looking to make more than 230 hires and will bring 43,000 square feet of entertainment, food and cocktails to its new location.

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