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Central BBQ owners to open new restaurant concept; plan expansion outside of Memphis


Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp, owners of Central BBQ’s three Memphis locations, will open up their newest venture, Sunrise Memphis, within the next two months. The pair are partnering with Ryan Trimm of Sweet Grass in the Copper-Young area on the new restaurant.

Sunrise Memphis is going into the building at 670 Jefferson Avenue and will feature breakfast and a “meat and 3” lunch menu with sandwiches.

“We’re going to make our own meats and cure our own sausages; try to be more of a farm-to-table, organic type of breakfast place,” said Blondis. “We will have a coffee bar as well.”

The 4,000-square-foot space will feature service similar to that of Central BBQ on Central Avenue, with customers coming to the counter to place their orders, taking a number, and the food being brought out to them.

“We had traveled down to Oxford and a couple of other places and saw some of the other restaurateurs opening up places like Big Bad Breakfast, and we thought ‘why don’t we do something like that’,” said Blondis. “And when you think about it, there are not a lot of choices for breakfast here in the city.”

He expects to hire 20 to 30 employees to start out at Sunrise Memphis.

Total opening costs are estimated at $200,000.

Central BBQ just celebrated its 15-year anniversary in April, and the company just announced an expansion partnership with Kemmons Wilson to open the first locations outside of Memphis.

Kemmons Wilson approached Blondis about partnering up last fall, and a deal was struck that gives Kemmons Wilson majority ownership of the units going forward. Blondis and Sapp will retain ownership of their current Memphis locations, catering kitchen and food truck.

“For the most part, I know they were talking about maybe doing one store here in town and go out of town with a minimum of 10 units, but I don’t know what cities they are targeting right now,” said Blondis. “I know they had spoken about possibly Knoxville or Nashville, and with their ownership of a lot of timeshares in the Orlando area that might be an opportunity.”

Conversations thus far have considered freestanding locations as well as locations inside some of Kemmons Wilson’s hotels.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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