Posted: Jun 28, 2005 12:31 am
this is from Memphis Business Journal:
by Carolyn Park
A new restaurant will soon be joining the Downtown scene, offering an eclectic menu of everything from barbecue eggrolls to deep-fried Cornish hen and live Maine lobster.
Big Foot Lodge is opening to the public June 13 at 97 S. Second St., and owners Shawn and Lana Danko hope it'll leave prints.
It's a theme restaurant born from Shawn Danko's nearly 20 years in the restaurant industry.
The restaurant and bar will accommodate up to 160 people in a setting of massive Tennessee river rock columns, white pine siding walls, a large stone fireplace, diverse collection of hunting trophies and log cabin decor.
The interior design is meant to be impressive, yet cozy, says Lana Danko, who also works in sales and marketing for WRVR and 94.1 The Buzz.
"We want everything to be sort of a wow factor," she says.
There will be tunes flowing from a jukebox and an 8-foot image of Big Foot, commissioned from a local artist, greeting customers.
The couple have talked about opening a restaurant together for more than four years.
"We really thought we were just dreaming," Lana Danko says.
But about a year ago, Shawn Danko decided it was time to stop dreaming and make it happen.
He says he chose the Second Street location, which formerly housed the Amber Palace, because of its proximity to other area restaurants, The Peabody, FedExForum, AutoZone Park and other Downtown businesses and attractions. Big Foot Lodge will offer a new, family-oriented, casual lunch and dinner option for area business people, residents and visitors.
In addition to unique menu choices like corn-brauts, S'mores you can cook at your table and bacon, lettuce and fried-green tomato sandwiches, there will be a children's menu with staples such as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers. More adventurous dinners may opt for the 4-pound hamburger, which the restaurant will offer free of charge to customers who can wolf it down solo in an hour. Menu items will be moderately priced, with no items above $19.99.
The Dankos say everything from the menu to the decor are a culmination of original, borrowed and sometimes modified ideas taken from their experiences and travels throughout the years.
"It's Americana, with a twist," says Shawn Danko.
The pair are hoping it's a concept unique enough to sell. Their plans are to open five Big Foot Lodge restaurants within six years, and possibly move to franchising after that. But they know Big Foot has a battle ahead.
"It's really difficult to come up with a truly original idea," says Sean McCarty, who is in advertising with Clear Channel Outdoor and has known the couple for about five years.
A 14-year resident of Downtown, McCarty says he's witnessed the endless procession of restaurants coming and going to the area. Some places make it, but most don't. He is confident Shawn Danko's experience in the industry and the restaurant's unique concept will enable Big Foot Lodge to stay the course.
Originally from Montreal, Danko came to Memphis five years ago via Myrtle Beach, S.C. He worked for Hard Rock Cafe for 13 years, serving as a general manager in its Montreal, Myrtle Beach and Memphis locations.
He and his wife, both Memphis transplants, say they fell in love with the city and are excited about being a part of its thriving Downtown.
As for the Big Foot name, Danko says he was inspired by The Bigfoot Lodge cocktail lounge and bar, which also sports a log cabin theme and has locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. But Danko says there's no association.
"It's just a fun name," he says.