I bet most of you reading, even those who are regulars at the two Memphises in Orange County, had no idea that there was a third Memphis, one called Memphis at the Beach in Manhattan Beach.
I had the pleasure of eating there around two years ago, about when it opened. My story angle was this: here was a beloved O.C. success story, which was now exporting its influence and excellent Southern vittles into territories beyond. Usually it's the other way around, with the David Myers' and the Wolfgang Pucks of L.A. breaching our borders to open restaurants here. For the time it was open, Memphis at The Beach decreased the trade deficit in our favor.
The food was the same. The fried chicken still had the gravitational pull of a celestial object. The cornbread was still free and crumbly. But this Memphis was different looking and had a different vibe than the two we have here.
The crowd during that late afternoon were mostly yuppies in tank tops and shorts with baby strollers in tow who favored either Memphis' wet, pulled pork-sandwiches dripping in sauce, or their crawfish omelette. Meanwhile, their offspring sat in high chairs, munching on chicken fingers and fries. They gazed at my giant plate of fried chicken with dumbfounded amazement and asked me what it was.
Like the other Memphises, there was a bar, but it was oddly surf-themed, presumably used to better effect in the evenings when the kids are put to bed. This Memphis was also, by far, the most eye-catching object on the street. The building was covered in Astroturf and looked like an overgrown Chia Pet. One couple I passed by on the street after lunch remarked, "Is that grass on that building? Let's check it out!"
Evidently after nearly two years of struggling, Memphis on The Beach has closed. Our jefe Ted Kissell noticed it driving by, and according to our blog brothers at Squid Ink, it has already been replaced by a restaurant by David LeFevre called Manhattan Beach Post.
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We asked The Memphis Group's spokeswoman to comment and she said:
The Memphis location in Manhattan Beach was licensed to an investor group in the area (which The Memphis Group were minority stake owners in). After a year and a half, the location was unable to maintain its initial roll out success and was not meeting revenue goals. It was mutually agreed to release the investor group from the licensing agreement and allow them to partner with a new operator. The location which The Memphis Group are still part owners in is now called Post and initial reports are that it is doing quite well.