Work is underway at 409 South Main that will breathe new life into portions of the historic building that have sat dormant for many, many years. Next month, the event center operating on the first floor will move to the third floor, which is being painstakingly restored with vintage furniture and fixtures.
The building was built in 1912 and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Over the years it was home to Puck’s spices until the 1930s, then Lucky Heart skin and hair products until the 1970s, and even a dance club in the 1980s.
Rebecca and Steve Dyer bought the 41,000-square-foot building for $1.2 million in November of 2015 after it had been gifted to the Visible School of Music earlier that year.
“It’s a gorgeous building. It had an existing event venue, but our main purpose for buying it was to create a food hall,” said Rebecca Dyer, who worked in the health care industry for 30 years before retiring and then taking a leap of faith to buy the building and start a new business.
The event center’s move to the third floor will make way for the food hall to go in on the first floor, and the second floor will be used for office space and for potential tenants to lease space. More than $1 million in modifications to the building over the past six months include installing a new elevator and fire stairs, as well as new plumbing and bathrooms on the upper floors.
The food hall trend, which picked up speed in the U.S. seven years ago, would bring a new dining and retail concept to Memphis.
Food halls are normally indoor markets featuring a variety of local food vendors and artisans, many who operate their own stalls, along with dining areas, so people will be able to shop for food to take food home or have a meal on-site.
Since opening, the venue, which holds 350 people, has hosted weddings, proms, graduation parties, photo and video shoots, corporate events, Christmas parties and more.
“It’s a space that most people have never seen. Apparently no one had used the second or third floors for decades,” said Dyer. “It has a gorgeous skyline view of downtown Memphis. We kept the original hardwood floors and exposed brick, and all of the furniture and fixtures that we’re putting up there is respective to the age of the building.”
She tracked down most of the vintage furniture, which is being re-stuffed and reupholstered, and even found the quartz for the countertops here in Memphis. Adding to the early 1900s vibe, the room will feature 92 suspended Edison bulbs.
Architecture Inc. handled the designs, Metro Construction is the general contractor, and Clare Richardson is the interior designer for the project.
Once the event center is fully moved, the first floor will be deconstructed. In its place will be a food hall that will be open to the public and will also be used in conjunction with events on the third floor.