Restaurant roundup: Newk's, Char and The Casual Pint coming to Highland Row

Good eats and drinks are on the way to the U. of M. area this fall, as Newk’s Eatery, Char Steakhouse and The Casual Pint are in various stages of construction inside the new $58 million mixed-use retail and residential Highland Row development.

Memphis-based Poag Shopping Centers is developing the 300,000-square-foot project, which is part of the large-scale redevelopment of the western side of Highland Avenue near the university, in a joint venture with Indiana-based Milhaus Development.

“We were looking for a variety of restaurant types to cater to a wide spectrum of people,” said Josh Poag, president and CEO of Poag Shopping Centers (PSC).

Highland Row construction got underway in early 2015, and the first residential units opened this summer. The project’s three buildings will include 354 residential luxury flats, 35 townhomes, and approximately 27,000 square feet of retail space.

Poag expects the first two buildings to be completed next month and the third, which will have no retail space, to be completed by the spring.

“There will be more retail tenants. We have some prospects we are negotiating with now,” said Poag, who estimates PSC has talked with 300 or more prospects for the Highland Row’s open retail spaces over the past few years.

His hope is for Newk’s, Char and The Casual Pint to be open by Thanksgiving.

“When you get into construction, especially with restaurants, it’s complicated, so things may get delayed, but the intent right now is for all three to be open at the latest by November,” said Poag.

The Casual Pint bar and beer market franchise is the newest tenant to sign on board. The craft beer specialists started out with two shops in Knoxville several years ago and have since franchised.

“They’re catering to the craft brew industry, and that whole sector has really taken off in the past few years,” said Poag. “It’s a niche that caters to a large age group of people who just appreciate fine beers.”

Fast casual Newk’s Eatery will continue with its expansion across the Mid-South with its new Highland Row location, and Southern-style steak and seafood house Char Restaurant is also expanding, opening its second location following the success of Char in Jackson, Miss. The new Char will feature a wine bar, lounge, and two private dining rooms for special events and business meetings.

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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.