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Table Talk: $10 Deals, restaurant news, grocery store blues

Welcome back to Table Talk, where The Daily Memphian’s food and dining editor Jennifer Biggs sends the latest food news (along with a dash of this and that) to your inbox every Wednesday.

 I’m glad to be back in town after a quick trip to Austin, and over the moon that I returned with some special cargo seated in 7A and 7B beside me:

My grandkids are here with me and this weekend my daughter and son-in-law will be back in town. In this work-from-home world, it no longer matters if you live 650 miles away from your office, and I couldn’t be more delighted to have them here, just about a mile from me.


An H.E.B. with gasoline sales in Harlingen, Texas. (AP file photo) 

But I’m going to miss a thing or two in Austin, most of all the grocery stores, and am ready to start a movement here. Really, let’s stop begging for a Publix and get on the H-E-B train. I love everything about the store in my daughter’s neighborhood, from the plant selection that rivals a nursery to the bakery, the deli, the cheese counter, the wine, produce, prepared meals and so on.

Further, I can drive a few miles north or south of that store and find other H-E-Bs that don’t even feel like the same chain, as the stores cater to what the neighborhoods want and the differences I’ve seen are significant.

It’s not going to happen so I’m not going to keep going; H-E-B is in Texas and north Mexico and I don’t see it coming to Memphis. I’d just love for us to have nice things, too. And lest you think I’m shortchanging Texas’ Central Market, well, here’s my first ever Wikipedia link for you so you can read and learn, like I did: It’s owned by H-E-B. And that, friends, stands for Howard Edward Butt, who expanded a little grocery founded by his mother more than 100 years ago. 

Back in Memphis (and OK, fine, I’ll take a Publix), restaurants were busy last week, causing me to stop packing my daughter’s kitchen long enough to write about Restaurant Iris moving into the former home of the Grove Grill at Laurelwood. That will happen soon, but there’s no date set yet; fingers crossed for 2021.


Dan Brown is selling Leonard’s to the owners of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. (Tom Bailey/Daily Memphian)

The same day, the cat was officially out of the bag that Dan Brown sold Leonard’s Pit Barbecue to Hot and Spicy Holdings, the parent company of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. Tom Bailey delivered that news to you; it’s a story with a happy ending for Brown, a very nice man who ran a good business and nearly lost everything because of COVID.

Chris Herrington wrote about an excellent $10 Deal, the tamales at Emilio’s Grocery. I love that store too, though I can’t help but point out here that I’m going to miss the freshly made Texas-style tamales available at one of the H-E-B stores not too far from my daughter’s place in Austin … 

This week I ended up with an unexpected $10 Deal when I headed to Lakeland for Thai food and ended up in Bartlett eating at Memphis Mojo Café, where the burgers start at $7 and were good. 


Carrington Oaks Coffeehouse patrons convene outside the Collierville location. (Ziggy Mack/Special to Daily Memphian)


Speaking of Lakeland: Michael Waddell reports that Carrington Oaks Coffeehouse and Floral will open in Lakeland Town Square this year (as will Margarita’s Mexican Grill & Bar). 

Finally, it’s not food, but it’s good news and there is strong drink involved: Paula and Raiford’s Disco has reopened and weekend nights Downtown can once again end with a spin (literally; there’s a pole) around the dance floor and a nightcap. R. Eugene Moore has an interview with Paula Raiford, who tells us why she stayed closed so long. 

And have a listen to Sound Bites; Chris Herrington and I gab about recent news and good meals on this week’s edition. Have a great week, and I’ll be back with more for you next week. 

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