University of Memphis area explodes with new restaurant growth


The new Cook Out Creamery restaurant on Highland Avenue quietly opened for business on Friday, joining a string of new restaurants that have opened up on the west side of Highland Avenue in recent months as part of the ongoing major revitalization of the area near the University of Memphis.

With little advertising leading up to its opening, Cook Out enjoyed brisk business throughout the weekend.
 
“We’re excited to be a part of what’s happening in this area,” said Cook Out district manager William Grimes.

Other new-to-the-area restaurants include Char, Newk's Eatery and the Casual Pint, which have opened in the new Highland Row mixed-use development. Burgerim, Insomnia Cookies and Petra Cafe are going in just to south in the Highland Strip.

The revitalization is happening organically as new businesses look to tap in to the overall makeover of the area, which will be highlighted by the University of Memphis' upcoming large-scale master plan development on the south side of Southern Avenue.
 
Cook Out was founded in Greensboro, N.C., by current owner Morris Reaves, and the company has grown since July 2010 to more than 200 locations in well over 100 cities.
 
It took about seven months to get the property at  757 S. Highland Street, which had sat vacant for many years, ready for opening.
 
The restaurant specializes in char-grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken sandwiches milkshakes and North Carolina-style barbecue.
 
“Everything is cooked on a char grill, and our meat is delivered fresh, never frozen seven days per week. No additives, no preservatives,” said Grimes.

“Everything is made when you order it. That’s our difference and why we’re able to employ so many people. There’s no shortcuts. We make our own chili and slaw. We cut our own pickles and onions. We do everything right here.”
 
The menu also features more than 40 flavors of milkshakes, including unique options like cappuccino, cherry cobbler, orange push-up and seasonal choices like egg nog.
 
Grimes expects to keep a staff of approximately 60 employees.
 
With the restaurant staying open until 3 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 4 a.m. on the weekend, Grimes hopes to see a steady rush of hungry students from the University of Memphis once school starts back.
 
“We plan to open up other locations here in the Memphis area, but we’re not sure of the number yet,” said Grimes, who plans to personally relocate to Memphis to help start up the new restaurants.
 

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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