The South Main Arts District just got a new outdoor dining area.
Huling Station opened Friday on Huling Ave. between Front St. and S. Main. The structure is part covered and part open-air. It’s designed to be a gathering place for the community.
The area has seats for 66 guests and is comprised of socially-distanced café tables and high top tables. Live music, free wifi and special events are all planned for the new venue.
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The idea for Huling Station was sparked when the City of Memphis announced its initiative allowing public spaces to be used for outdoor dining.
A partnership between Puck Food Hall, Start Co., Downtown Memphis Commission and the City of Memphis brought the vision to life.
“We saw that people were more comfortable dining outside and we thought it would be cool to build an outdoor installation where people could meet, order food and spend money,” said Andre Fowlkes, the President of Start Co.
The dining space is open to the public and is currently the outdoor dining room for six eateries. The Puck Food Hall booths run by Daniel Masters, The Grecian Gourmet and Memphis Soul Southern Cooking (formerly 99-cent Soul Food Express) all will offer contactless ordering through QR codes. Diners can choose to pick-up their orders at the restaurants or have the order delivered to their table. Sweet Magnolia Gelato Company, Dr. Bean’s Coffee & Tea Emporium and LuLu’s Foods are all part of the project, but currently do not offer online ordering. Diners will need to order and pick up food directly from these three businesses located within Puck Food Hall.
Masters is excited about the project. He spent months researching what other cities have been doing to create outdoor dining experiences. “I hope this becomes like a socially-distanced trolley night,” he said, as he shared the new cocktail menu he has planned for the space.
Grecian Gourmet owner Jeff Watkins said he thinks the new space will be “the perfect place to eat, drink and enjoy the Fall weather.” He has planned daily specials for the space and suggests that Grecian Gourmet’s homemade sangria is the perfect libation to drink while hanging out at Huling Station.
Will Nash, who owns Memphis Soul and is known by his customers as “Nash,” said of the venue, “It’s a great place to allow the community to come out and support us outdoors.” During the pandemic, Nash changed the name of his almost 5-year old restaurant from 99-cent Soul Food Express to Memphis Soul Southern Cooking.
“Outdoor dining has never been more popular or more necessary,” said Jennifer Oswalt, president and CEO Downtown Memphis Commission.
“We are lucky in that Memphis has a relatively temperate climate, and we can extend patio dining throughout the fall and winter months. Huling Station represents a neighborhood-wide solution that will benefit diners from Grecian Gourmet, Puck Food Hall, Memphis Soul Southern Cooking, and others. Plus the covered patio adds capacity for safe or distanced meeting space and general work and co-work space for residents and office tenants.”
The Downtown Memphis Commission has planned an event for the community on October 8 at Huling Station. Southern Avenue – Unplugged at Huling Station will be from 5-7 p.m. and is part of the Downtown Memphis Commission & Memphis Tourism’s Dinner + Music Series.
Hours of operation are still being determined, but Huling Station should be open most days for lunch and dinner. The temporary street closure is approved through the end of the year.
Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining Reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Huling Station: New outdoor dining room opens in Memphis’ South Main Arts District