March 22, 2018
New Ronnie Grisanti’s Restaurant to Open at Former Heritage Tavern and Kitchen Spot
The Commercial Appeal
March 22, 2018
Judd Grisanti will open an East Memphis location of Ronnie Grisanti’s Italian Restaurant within the next couple of months, taking over the spot at Regalia where Heritage Tavern and Kitchen closed Wednesday.
“We’re going to keep the one in Collierville, too,” Grisanti said. “I still have a lease there.”
The spot at 6150 Poplar was for years Mikasa Japanese Restaurant. When it closed, John Bragg renovated the space and open a restaurant there, followed by Ryan Trimm’s Southward, then Mike Miller’s Heritage Tavern in 2015. Miller also owns Patrick’s; it is not affected.
“Judd and his group came in and made us an offer that was so handsome I didn’t want to turn it down,” Miller said. “You take opportunities when they come up.”
He said he plans to reopen Heritage in another location.
“I fully anticipate us being back soon. We don’t have any specific place in mind, but when the opportunity presents itself to open elsewhere, we will. Arlington is a possibility, Collierville is certainly something to look at. These are just thoughts.”
Grisanti officially takes over April 1. He hopes that sometime in May he and his cousin, David Grisanti, will be in the kitchen cooking classic Grisanti’s northern Italian cuisine.
“I wanted to just name it Grisanti’s, because it’s to honor my father, my uncles and my grandfather, who all made it possible for me to do this, to carry on their name. But out of my respect for my uncle Frank, I’m keeping it my dad’s name,” Judd Grisanti said.
Frank Grisanti’s Italian Restaurant is just around the corner in the Embassy Suites on Shady Grove. Ronnie Grisanti died in June 2017.
“We’re celebrating 30 years of continued business at the location and we’re proud to be part of the growth of this area,” said Larkin Grisanti, Frank’s son and business partner.
The Grisanti name has long been a household one in Memphis when it comes to Italian food. The first restaurant opened behind a liquor store Downtown by Rinaldo Grisanti, the family patriarch, more than 100 years ago; many have followed. Elfo, Judd’s grandfather, took over the restaurant and the liquor store from Rinaldo and later opened Grisanti’s on Central in Ashlar Hall. Elfo’s brother, “Big” John Grisanti, opened the Grisanti’s restaurant on Airways that many remember as much for the owner’s larger-than-life personality and love for wine as for its food. Brothers Ronnie and Frank Grisanti both worked for their uncle John early in their careers before launching their own places, and some of their sons have followed them in the restaurant business.
“The kitchen is in very good shape at the new place, so we don’t have much to do except put in a pizza oven,” Judd Grisanti said. “We’re going to redo the front of the house, definitely cozy it up, put up family memorabilia. I see something like the 21 Club New York, but we’ll see. We’ve had a designer looking at it.”
Plans are to close off the bar from the restaurant, but to do it with smoky glass so that it stays open while offering some separation, and to put seating upstairs, too.
“Everything you expect on a Grisanti’s menu. We’ll have it all plus some more, maybe even a raw bar, and of course we’ll have a full bar and lots of Italian wines.
“This is my heritage, this is about my family,” Grisanti said. “I’m going to take it to the next level. It’s going to be first class.”