117 Prime steakhouse opening Downtown

The ownership group behind Sweetgrass in Midtown and Sunrise Memphis is almost ready to open up its newest venture, 117 Prime, possibly as early as next month. Renovations are underway at 117 Union Avenue on the new steakhouse and bar, which is newest creation of BST, LLC, made up of Chef Ryan Trimm and Central BBQ co-founders Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp.

The Belle Bistro had previously operated out of the space, which is owned by Sapp, but the upscale Southern food concept never fully took off.

“So we decided we would close it and reopen as a steakhouse,” said partner Craig Blondis. “After the Butcher Shop closed Downtown, there really isn’t options for steak Downtown. We’re going to do some dry-aged meats. Some of our selections will be prime cuts. I don’t see the need for prime on every cut of steak. We’re trying to keep it at a price point that’s not too outrageously expensive.”

The shotgun restaurant space stretches from Union Avenue to the alley in back, with the steakhouse in the front and access to a tavern/whiskey bar in the back. The renovations, which include installing all-new flooring, make the spaces flow together. 

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

Hiring will begin soon.

BST’s new Sunrise Memphis restaurant at 670 Jefferson Avenue opened a month ago, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Sunrise features breakfast and a “meat and 3 [sides]” lunch menu with sandwiches.

Following 117 Prime, BST is finalizing details to handle the food and beverage portion of the new Hotel Indigo, which is going in at the site of the former Econo Lodge at Third Avenue and Court.

“We’re thinking about doing it as an upscale 1950s diner, with polished aluminum trim around the bar stools and a contemporary classic feel,” said Blondis.

Further out, the team expects to open another Sunrise restaurant in 2019 next to the original Central BBQ location in Midtown.

In late 2016, Blondis and Sapp partnered with Kemmons Wilson and struck a deal giving Kemmons Wilson majority ownership of the restaurant locations going forward. In the spring, the newest Central BBQ location will open in East Memphis at 6201 Poplar Avenue, which formerly housed LYFE Kitchen.  

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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.