Posted: Feb 26, 2011 5:24 pm
Well now...I don't think it's been too long since the last post to not keep this thread going...
I'm lucky to have found this forum. I was doing a Google search for Memphis restaurants from the 1970s, and this was the number one, and only relevant, result. There was a particular restaurant I was looking for, from my childhood, whose name had escaped me.
Reading all these posts over the past couple of days has really brought back so many memories, mostly of my early childhood. As a matter of fact, the very restaurant I was looking for was mentioned later on in this thread...it was the Beef & Liberty on Elvis Presley Blvd (E.P.B.) My grandfather used to take our family there for special occasions when I was very young.
Some other restaurants I hadn't thought about in a while, but that brought back fond memories, were Shakey's Pizza (hellza yeah...the Laurel & Hardy shorts were the best, and the player piano with the music on the paper scrolls), Fred Gangs on Airways (best salad bar that I've known to date), the Public Eye at Overton Square, Coletta's on Summer (if you asked, they would bake your pizza in the old stone oven...it would make the crust so crisp, and just so much better), The Jolly Ox (with all the glass-bottle bottoms in the walls), Sambo's (just loved their patty melt sandwich as a child - never ate at any in Memphis, though...the one I ate at, again and again, was in Arkansas, and we always stopped there on our road trips between Memphis and Shreveport, LA), Harry's on Teur (5-star food in a 2-star hole in the wall in Midtown), Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips, the 91st Bomb Squadron (there was also a 94th Aero Squadron restaurant when I lived in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, in 1987 - 1988), and the original Grisanti's (only ate there once...the food was nothing to write home about, but John Grisanti was somewhat of a Memphis character; he once paid a very large sum of money for an old bottle of wine. When we ate there, John was declining in health, but he was there, making the rounds. He passed away soon thereafter, so I was glad that I had the opportunity to eat at the original Grisanti's while John was still around).
As for defunct Memphis restaurants that I don't recall seeing posted here, well, here are my submissions. Let me know what you think:
Victoria Station: was a steak restaurant built in two converted train cars. It was located in the bend in the road on Mendenhall, between Cottonwood and Mt. Moriah (in the Parkway Village area). I remember that they had really great barbeque ribs. As a kid, though, it was the attraction to the train cars that did it for me. LOL!
China Star: was a Chinese restaurant on E.P.B. in Whitehaven, near Marlowe's (mentioned here previously). I used to work at Brooks and Airways (for FedEx, thank you; not as a pimp, prostitute, or drug dealer), and, at different times, we would hit the China Star lunch buffet 2 - 3 times a week. There was something about this Chinese food that was / still is different than any other Chinese buffet food I have ever eaten in Memphis. There were little added touches that just set their offerings apart from everyone else. But the crowning achievement of China Star was the hibachi chicken. The preparation of this dish was unique to this restaurant. Many other Chinese restaurants have hibachi chicken, but none of their preparations have come close to China Star's. Flame grilled chicken that was continually basted in some kind of soy sauce / oyster sauce concoction. The chicken was cut into bite-sized pieces, was tender and juicy, and it was sweet and salty at the same time. And there were bits of green onions, garlic, and spices in the sweet & salty sauce that the chicken sat in (in) the serving dish. I used to like to take that salty & sweet sauce, with the good bits it contained, and put it in my egg drop soup. I think that's where the term "kick it up a notch" originated. LMAO!
Golden Wok: was a Thai / Chinese restaurant on American Way, near Getwell. The entire time I frequented this place, I always ate the same two things; the Thai egg rolls (when the rice egg-roll wrappers were available...not the flour wrappers), and the Tom Yum soup with Chicken. The owners, Sam and Lina, were just the sweetest people, and we used to drive from Brooks and Airways to have lunch at their Golden Wok. There was something very special about Sam and Lina's Tom Yum soup, so much so that people still frequently speak about it to this very day, even though this place closed, like, in the very early 2000s. When FedEx moved many of our departments from the airport area to Collierville in 1999, a good portion of Sam and Lina's business went with us, and Golden Wok didn't make it. We always joked that they put opium in the soup in order to keep us coming back (two of my co-workers and a I once at there 21 business days in a row). If you ever had the chance to have this unique Tom Yum soup, then you know what I'm talking about.
Woolsworth's: was a department store in Memphis when I was a boy. The one that I remember was in Whitehaven (on E.P.B. near Raines Rd), and it had a small grill / restaurant inside. My grandmother used to frequently take me there when we would spend quality time together. There was nothing special about the food...it's the memories that are most special to me. At one time, though, they served ice cream sundaes in plastic miniature baseball helmets. I was into baseball as a boy, so getting to take these little helmets home, wash them out, and then display them in my room was hog heaven for me <smile>.
Catfish King: was a Collierville catfish joint that came and went fairly quickly in the mid 2000s. It was on Byhalia Rd, about a quarter mile north of Poplar. The catfish was always good, but it was their honey biscuits that made me mention them. They always brought them out as an appetizer, and they were hot, fresh biscuits, straight from the oven, with a butter & honey drizzle on the top. We frequently had to request an additional order of four biscuits.
Eden's: was another 5-star restaurant that was first located, of all places, at the Sheffield Antique Mall in Collierville. They started in the very back of this antique mall, but they killed! We would eat lunch there, but you always had to arrive early or wait a long time (they had, like, five or six cheap plastic tables with chairs, and there would often be 8 - 10 people waiting for a spot). The crab bisque was to die for. They closed at this location, and ended up moving to another antique store on Summer Ave (the name of that store escapes me - I want to say it is in the Berclair area). The food was just as good at this new location, but I believe they ultimately closed down again, even though the antique store is still in business.
Morocco Cafe: was a great Middle Eastern restaurant on Echles, near the University of Memphis. The food here was awesome, everything that I tried, at least. I'm not certain if this is true or not, but a family member who frequented this establishment told me that some folks started acting a little more negatively towards the proprietors after the events of 9-11. I do know that the restaurant closed down at some point soon thereafter. If this is true, it's tragic. Either way, how tragic to lose such a great establishment. The claim to fame of the Morocco Cafe, though, and of any business that occupies that location, is the building. If you'll remember, this is where the original Freewheelin' Frank's (head shop) was located. Ah, that first wide-eyed foray into paraphernalia.
Johnny Rockets: The Dutch Pancake House / CK's, near the Oak Court Mall, was, for a time, a Johnny Rockets hamburger joint. The food was always fresh, hot, and good, the shakes were awesome, and the cherry and vanilla cokes were lip-smackin' sweet. They also had the old school nickel juke boxes at every table. Talk about uptown! It was worth the nickels to hear "Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry, or "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons...I think there was even some old Queen on those things. They closed that location and opened up one in the Wolfchase Galleria mall, but they didn't make it there for very long.
Bennigan's: Really, nothing much out of the ordinary here. Another restaurant in the Appleby's / Chili's vein. But, back in the day, they had the best Monte Cristo sandwich going, with this awesome raspberry jam to accompany it. They used to have a killer Death by Chocolate dessert as well. I mean, Lord...chocolate cake with chocolate icing, topped with chocolate ice cream, chocolate shavings, and chocolate syrup. I've always been a chocoholic, but c'mon!
Pizza Inn / The Inn One: Pizza Inn has been mentioned here previously. We used to frequent the Pizza Inn at Winchester & Mendenhall when I was in high school in the early to mid-1980s (let me hear it from all of my fellow Sheffield High alums!) We enjoyed the pizza well enough. The Inn One was a bar adjacent to this Pizza Inn; they were connected in the back. In the mid 80's, we loved to hang out at the Inn One, have a few cocktails, and watch <then> Memphis State basketball on the big screen. If we got hungry, we just ordered from the Pizza Inn menu. Nice! Oh, and if you did some elementary math there, you would arrive at the conclusion that we were doing under-aged drinking here. We felt so grown.
The Billiards Club: was a pool hall on Mt. Moriah at Ridgeway. Friends and I hung out there for a few years in the mid-1990s. A nice crowd, good pool tables, and a great juke box were always the norm; but it was the kitchen that made this place stand out. Kelly, and her husband, John, were the mainstays there, and Kelly really tore it up in the kitchen. Freshly made pizzas, sandwiches (cold or grilled), hot dogs, and cold, cold beer; quasi-pub grub, if you will, but it was always so delicious. For a time, this was the very best place to spend a long, enjoyable Friday or Saturday evening with my best bud, Pie