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VOL. 132 | NO. 227 | Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bringing Down Walls

Edge Alley and High Cotton Brewing combine operations

By Patrick Lantrip

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High Cotton Brewing Co. and Edge Alley, which were already two of the Memphis Medical District’s more popular venues on their own, have taken a taken a very tangible step in combining the two concepts into a single entity.

“From the beginning our plan has been to combine these two concepts in a unique way,” Edge Alley co-founder and hospitality consultant Tim Barker said. “Not just through a partnership, but through a portal from one space to another.”

Which is why Barker and his partners decided to open things up with their sister store by hiring Grinder Haizlip Construction to saw-cut a door into a portion of the roughly two-foot thick brick wall that previously separated the two venues.

Tim Barker, owner of Edge Alley, a restaurant in the Edge District offering coffee, cocktails, breakfast, lunch and dinner, has merged with neighbor business High Cotton Brewing both structurally and operationally.  (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

“Once we finish up, this complex will be activated from 7 a.m. all the way until 9, 10 or 11 p.m.,” Barker said. “Our goal is to combine everything in such a way that people can wander from space to space to space and discover these new areas as they are here throughout the day.”

However, the union isn’t merely cosmetic.

“We have also taken over the operations of the taproom,” he said. “A lot of breweries treat their taprooms as just an extension of the brewery, so we’ve brought in more of a hospitality element to what we’re doing. This is now the only taproom that has food service on a permanent, consistent basis.”

Eventually, Barker hopes to use High Cotton’s extensive distribution network to bring Edge Alley coffee to new vendors around the city.

“We’re trying to get our coffee beans into restaurants that serve their product so that they can literally be on the same truck,” he said.

Mom's Meatloaf Biscuit Sandwich is one of the made-from-scratch items on EDGE Alley's menu. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

But in the meantime, Edge Alley’s coffee beans are already starting to find their way into High Cotton’s beer.

“We’ve always been interested in making lighter beers with coffee instead of just the basic coffee stout,” Barker said. “We took a very light colored and flavored beer and added whole been coffee and citrus zest to it for just four hours. It’s quick, but you get a lot of the roasted aromas and the citrus in the beer, so it was a coffee beer that drank really light, really smooth.”

Since they are able control both the beer and the coffee from the raw product to the finished product, Barker said it will give them a lot more flexibility to experiment with even more unique pairings in the future.

“We were super excited to see this wall come down,” he said. “This is a step closer toward the literal combining of these two businesses in a very tangible way.”

The aligning of High Cotton and Edge Alley is encouraging for further business growth in the area, said Memphis Medical District Collaborative program and data director Abby Miller.

“We’re always looking for learning, growing and partnership opportunities for how businesses in Memphis can learn and grow from each other,” she said. “Edge Alley and High Cotton have a common investor so they have been thinking about these high-growth strategies from the beginning.”

While this particular union was a unique situation, Miller believes this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to businesses in the area working together.

“I think we’ll see more and more of these types of innovated growth strategies deployed in the medical district,” Miller said.

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