EDGE Alley coffee shop and retail space set to open July 26
Sometimes, a big idea requires a small solution -- or rather, a group of small solutions, working together.
Such is the case with Edge Alley, a new coffee roaster/cafe/retail concept in the Edge neighborhood of the Memphis Medical District. Located at 600 Monroe Avenue, Edge Alley opens to the public at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
Timothy Barker, a veteran of the Memphis restaurant industry and visionary behind Edge Alley’s unique concept, says that the idea was born of necessity.
“For more than a year, my partners and I have been excited about the immense potential of the Medical District, and we wanted to bring something new and needed to the neighborhood -- coffee,” Barker explains. “We share an abiding passion for great coffee and with the growing number of professionals, students, and tourists now coming into and through the Medical District every day, we believe that a great coffee roasterie and cafe will do very well in this area.”
“At the same time, we had a sense that the neighborhood could support specialty retail -- unique gifts and accessories, bath and body products, and curated vintage merchandise in particular. Every building that we looked at in this area was too big to make these particular types of retail businesses feasible. The challenge was finding something small enough to work.”
Barker speaks from experience when it comes to understanding what will and won’t work for restaurants and hospitality spaces. He was an executive chef for 20 years before launching his hospitality consulting practice five years ago.
After months of scouring the district, Barker and his team found 600 Monroe, next door to High Cotton Brewing Company and tap room. They knew at once they had found something that could be adapted for what they had imagined.
The property, recently home to River City Chrome, and at one time an auto parts store servicing the adjacent Nash Auto dealership (currently High Cotton Brewing Co.) is approximately 4,000 square feet and opens directly onto to Monroe Avenue.
“The building’s column structure is a natural divider, creating small ‘spaces ’ that are each about 225 square feet,” says Barker. “Each of these spaces functions as a tiny retail bay for the right merchant, leaving plenty of room for our roaster, espresso bar, cafe, and seating.”
Barker and his partners purchased the building in February of 2016 and, after receiving predevelopment and construction grants from the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, have built something unique and uniquely useful to the rapidly revitalizing Edge neighborhood: an alley that’s also a destination. In addition to a high-capacity coffee roasting operation, Edge Alley will contain a full espresso bar and cafe serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with seating and gathering space for more than 60 guests. Large windows will open out onto Monroe Avenue, creating a permeable and active invitation to the entire neighborhood.
Moreover, Edge Alley will act as its own community development engine -- each of its retail tenants will be given one-year leases, after which they will be encouraged to move out and into their own storefronts within the Edge neighborhood.
“Edge Alley is perfect for craftspeople or merchants who are at a transitional point in their business,” Barker explains. “People who are ready to move out of their garages or basements, but may not be ready for a full lease in a space of their own. We can help them build a brand and a customer base until they’re able to take that next step.”
The initial cohort of Edge Alley businesses are:
- My Heavenly Creations, a local bath and body products retailer which previously had its own space in the Broad Avenue Arts District.
- Paulette’s Closet, a women’s apparel and vintage store.
- Hope Wilkinson Designs Shop, a local interior design firm focusing on the residential and hospitality sectors. Hope Wilkinson was also a collaborator on the design of Edge Alley.
- A fourth bay will feature a series of retailers from July through the end of 2017, including 901 Shop, an apparel and gift store specializing Memphis-centric items;Ohm, a record store focusing on Memphis soul; and Randomly Refurbished, a custom woodworking and design studio.
“We spent a lot of time shaping this concept because we wanted it to be something really special. Between the cafe and the retail bays, you’ll find things at Edge Alley that you literally can’t find anywhere else in Memphis, or anywhere in the world for that matter,” says Barker. “These products are created by local visionaries who are deeply invested in their work: crafted, not commodified. Retail customers will enjoy our food and coffee, and our guests will discover things they didn’t know they loved from our retail merchants. Like every great neighborhood in every great city, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We all work together and make each other better.”
Edge Alley (600 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103)
Retail hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., or by appointment
Cafe hours: Monday - Friday 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.