McEwen’s restaurant in downtown Memphis reopens after renovations


The wait is over: McEwen’s reopens December 20.

Memphis’s beloved downtown restaurant has had a facelift over the past year and a half, with the building stripped down and reconfigured.

While it might seem a little different, it’s still old McEwen that Memphians loved, offering the same laid-back dining experience and southern cuisine from Chef Keith Bambrick.

Bert Smythe (left) and John Littlefield (right) are the owners of McEwen's in downtown Memphis.

During a smooth opening on Friday, co-owners Bert Smythe and John Littlefield were all smiles as they greeted customers at their 24-year-old restaurant.

“It’s so good to see all the familiar faces,” Littlefield said. “It’s like we miss part of the family while we are closed.”

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What to expect

As customers walk through the front door, they enter the spacious bar.

With wood accents and a new stone countertop, the bar invites patrons to sit down a spell. If Friday’s smooth opening was any indication, the bar will once again be a popular spot for downtown residents to gather for lunch.

The bar is stocked at the newly remodeled McEwen's on Thursday, December 16, 2021 in Memphis, TN.

The main dining room now sports the building’s original exposed brick walls, a new ceiling and new lighting.

A second dining room for up to 60 people is located in the part of the building that once housed the restaurant office and pantry kitchen.

ACC Design, owned by Littlefield’s wife Adrienne de Lathhouder Littlefield, was the talent behind the new decor.

The kitchen has also been consolidated and enlarged, with new equipment.

McEwen's Restaurant in downtown Memphis.

Eat them

“We kept as many old favorites as possible,” said Smythe.

Lunch diners will be delighted to see dishes like the Jungle of Greens Salad and the Roast Beef Sandwich with Red Wine Juice return on the menu.

At dinner, you can enjoy dishes like sweet potato-crusted catfish and braised pork osso buco with Creole spices.

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The green salad jungle at McEwen's restaurant in downtown Memphis.

Why renovate

When McEwen’s closed in March 2020, no one (especially Smythe and Littlefield) thought for a second that it would take nearly two years before it reopened.

“We planned to renovate the building before COVID,” Smythe said. “When we realized that the pandemic was not going to go away, we decided to unplug the plug. “

Smythe and Littlefield had purchased the building in November 2018.

“We didn’t know we would be shut down 20 months,” Smythe said. “We never thought that would be the case.”

But getting the building down to the poles and rebuilding it took longer than anyone might have expected due to pandemic shortages and delays.

After many months of work, McEwen's on Monroe Ave is ready to reopen on Thursday, December 16, 2021 in Memphis, TN.

The demolition and stabilization alone lasted from May to December 2020. The reconstruction of the space began this year.

As part of the renovation, the upper floor will be converted into six residential apartments in 2022.

And don’t worry, the basement wine cellar is always available for special events and private dinners. Regulars know this is a coveted dining spot.

Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.


Or: 120 Monroe Avenue

Hours: Open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday. For dinner from 5.30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 5.30 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Friday to Saturday. Close on Sunday.

Call: (901) 527-7085


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