September South Main Meeting Recap

By Nancy Lubioni & Cyndy Grivich

Justin Dyer, and his wife, Kim, were inspired by a trip to Chelsea Market in NYC, and dreamed of finding a way to bring the feel of a similar large food market to Memphis. 

Dyer, a lifetime Memphian, and no stranger to the food service business, having worked for D. Canale and Red Bull, notes that many food magazines are featuring good southern food and he believes that Memphis is ready for this. He researched possible sites and determined that Downtown and Midtown were the places in the city where the concept was most likely to work because of the demographics of the neighborhoods. After looking around, he chose the Puck Building at 409 S. Main Street. 

Downtown loves to see new businesses start in the neighborhood, especially when an old space is being renovated for a new purpose, which is the case for the “old” Jay Etkins Art Gallery. The gallery was just the latest in a history of uses for the gallery on South Main street which started out as a wholesale, then retail grocery before becoming a beauty salon, and then art gallery and event space. (There is a rumor that some of the space was used to film a Larry Flynt movie, but that’s another story.) The space is circling back to its food-roots, this time as a large food court, also with a market space where you can purchase some seasonal items. Adult beverages? Hello – this is Downtown! Yes to cocktails, wine & beer. 

The area will be divided into a Hot Side, with active cooking, and a Cold Side, no gas or cooking required. There will be a variety of foods, all high end, so far including food trucks, Cajun boil, catfish, hot dogs, tacos, Asian food - if he finds a vendor - coffee, cupcakes and other confections, cheeses, and Hawaiian Shaved Ice with true adult flavors. Dyer is also looking to add food/market related “concepts” such as a florist. Takeout will be available as well as seating at each vendor to provide a more urban, cozy and restaurant feel, and the opportunity to meet your neighbors – the ones you know and perhaps even some that you do not know – yet.

Of course, the expectation is there will be a good deal of local foot traffic. Downtowners are used to parking and walking so there are no plans to provide parking. Negotiations are, however, in-work to lease a corner lot close-by for the Saturday crowd that is often downtown for the Farmer’s market, and perhaps even a valet. How about that - valet to grocery shop! Are we uptown or what!

Plans are to place the food court and market on the first level, with elevator access to offices and event spaces, respectively, on the second and third floors. The event space will provide support revenue while the food market is under construction, and will open January 1, 2017. The target date to open the market is May 1, 2017. Tentatively, the plan is to be open every day, up to 12 -14 hours.