The Butcher Shop celebrates 40 years of steaks and burgers | News, Sports, Jobs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – It’s hard to find a parking space at The Butcher Shop at lunchtime on Fridays.

For decades customers have flocked to The Butcher Shop for its weekly Friday “steak burger” lunch special.

It’s just one of the things that has made this Memphis steakhouse a favorite for 40 years. The restaurant known for its charcoal-grilled hickory steaks celebrates its 40th anniversary this month.

When it opened, The Butcher Shop was a revolutionary concept. The one-of-a-kind steakhouse offered diners the opportunity to choose and cook their own steaks. It was one of the first restaurants to allow customers to actively engage with their food before and during cooking.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

The Butcher Shop opened in 1981 at 101 S. Front St. in downtown Memphis.

Dennis Day, who also ran The Pier restaurant, created the steakhouse concept which offered grills where customers could cook their own steaks. Simpson Hughes, a current minority owner, has also been heavily involved in operations throughout the restaurant’s 40-year history.

Hailing from Iowa, Day sources his grain-fed beef directly from the Midwest. The Butcher Shop cut and aged all the steaks on site; it’s a process they still do today.

In 1999, Day expanded its concept by opening a second location in Cordoba at 107 S. Germantown Parkway. The new space was huge compared to the original location in a historic building in downtown Memphis. Covering approximately 21,000 square feet, the building offered a large dining room that could accommodate nearly 200 people, an expansive bar, a large outdoor patio, and a ballroom that could accommodate approximately 250 people.

The Downtown Restaurant, which had been a dining destination for Memphis diners for nearly three decades, closed in 2012.

THE BUTCHER TODAY

Today, the restaurant is run by the next generation, with Day’s daughter, Michelle Day Harkins, at the helm.

When customers walk through the doors of the restaurant, the first thing they see is the enormous charcoal grill where every steak, burger and piece of fish is grilled.

“What makes our steaks special is that they are cooked over an open flame”, Harkin said.

Customers still have the option of cooking their own steak, but according to Harkins, most customers choose to grill their steaks at the restaurant. Harkins said plans for the future include cooking classes on how to cook steaks over an open flame.

Harkins said The Butcher Shop is a “value driven concept for fine dining.”

“We are not in competition with restaurants like Folk’s Folly or Capital Grille”, she says, explaining that they offer top quality steaks at an affordable price.

Matt Reisinger has been a loyal customer of The Butcher Shop for over 20 years.

“Besides having the best patio in the Memphis area, it’s a great location for any event. As a former coach, I hosted sports banquets at The Butcher Shop. As Managing Director, I organized company Christmas parties as well as staff dinners,” said Reisinger. “The Butcher Shop is a Memphis institution that far surpasses any other restaurant in the tri-state area.”

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Dino S. Williams