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VOL. 132 | NO. 196 | Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fratelli’s New Owner Talks Plans For Botanic Garden Restaurant

By Andy Meek

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The cafe inside the Memphis Botanic Garden, situated between the water and sculpture gardens, is going to be changing a bit over the coming weeks and months.

That’s a result of the eatery, Fratelli’s Cafe, getting a new owner. She’s Kris Shelby, whose experience in the restaurant industry has included working as catering manager for Fratelli’s for about five years under Sabine Bachmann, who co-founded Fratelli’s with Malcolm Aste.

Bachmann is the restaurateur who also owns the restaurant Ecco in Midtown and who opened the new Libro restaurant inside the bookstore Novel in East Memphis.

Shelby helped create and implement front-of-the-house and bar policies and procedures, in addition to hiring and training staff for Ecco during its first year. She also served as Ecco’s manager for a short period.

A 2007 graduate of the University of Memphis, Shelby has worked in the restaurant industry in other capacities including in administration, payroll processing, human resources and management.

Shelby brings that experience, plus an interest in trying some new things at the garden’s restaurant, to her new role as Fratelli’s owner. Changes and tweaks she’s thinking about include new menu items that are “rooted in the tradition of the restaurant,” plus expanding on its soup and dessert options, as well as bringing in a few gourmet coffee options.

On the catering side of Fratelli’s, plans include more of a focus on box lunches.

Shelby has most recently been working in the nonprofit sector, doing everything from work for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in community outreach and education to coordinating events and overseeing fundraising campaigns elsewhere.

“I’ve known Sabine for about 12 years,” Shelby said. “I knew she was looking to sell, and I was looking for an investment opportunity. I also have a great passion for food and love creating great dishes.”

Fratelli’s is a destination for fresh soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts and is open three hours a day, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Menu items include a variety of paninis with everything from chicken to turkey and vegetables of the day; and turkey, tuna salad, and ham among the sandwich options, in addition to a dessert menu and other choices.

Fratelli’s moved to its current location at the Memphis Botanic Garden in 2004.

“We’re definitely going to upgrade the decor,” Shelby says. “We’ll be rolling out some new menu items over the next two months, and we’re going to have a nice little variety of homemade desserts. We’re also going to try to expand our catering and expand our foot traffic.

“This is still really the perfect spot for us. You can’t find a prettier patio in the city. But even if you’re not much for sitting on patios, the inside provides great views as well.”

In terms of the upgrades and those views, her goal is to continue incorporating plants and garden-themed items into the design. Re-evaluating and raising the spot’s profile also fits what the Botanic Garden’s executive director Michael Allen told The Daily News late last year he’d be spending the early part of his tenure on – working to raise the profile of the beautiful garden destination that surrounds what is now Shelby’s new restaurant.

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