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Featured Article

Summer Ave. is My Poplar

Article by Amy Birdsong Golden

Photography by Illustrations by Lauren Keras

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

Once known as the “Highway of America,” Summer Avenue was home to the world’s first Holiday Inn and Memphis’ first McDonalds.  Completed in 1927, this six-mile stretch now feels like an international bonanza. Here are some favorite local small businesses—so you can make Summer Avenue your Poplar.

(1)  Five in One Social Club – Your new gift and art shop. The coolest Memphis T-shirts (Mane Island and Memphissippi!) along with other apparel. Join in their craft workshops too. They call it “Kindergarten for Grown Folks.” 2575 Summer Ave.

(2)  Charlie’s Meat Market – An errand your husband won’t mind. Memphis’ butcher shop for decades. Fresh ground chuck for burgers, hand cut steaks, custom seasonings, marinades and more. 4790 Summer Ave.

(3)  Nu Life Shoe Repair – Need to lower a heel, size a belt, stretch a boot or clean your party shoes? Go see Alvin Hooper for all things shoes, especially those designer ones. 699 Waring (at Summer Ave.)  

(4)  Gaslight Wine and Spirits – Established after Prohibition ended, Gaslight is third generation family owned and operated. You’ll find local craft beer and Tennessee liquor along with a great (and well-priced) wine selection. 4177 Summer Ave.

(5)  Malco Drive In – A time-warp that feels current. Plan a tailgate and catch a double. Our favorite group activity where you can visit, car hop or just park it all under the stars. 5310 Summer Ave.

(6)  Tops BBQ – So good there are two locations on Summer. The burgers are medicinal. We love their pork too, but Tops’ brisket gives Memphians permission to choose beef on occasion. 3353 Summer Ave., 4183 Summer Ave.

(7)  Mexican Dining – It’s a sport on Summer Avenue. If we must pick four:  

La Guadalupana for outrageous pastor tacos. 4818 Summer Ave.

Casa Perez, your Mexican grocer. 4880 Summer Ave.                              

Los Comales for best tostadas in the city. 4774 Summer Ave. 

Los Picosos. Order their whole roasted chicken (wpw!), only available Friday through Sunday. 3937 Summer Ave.

(8)  Kay Bakery/ La Panderia – We dream about their pillowy petit fours. Our go-to for made to order iced cookies and birthday cakes. Do not miss their bread selection—a classic panderia! 667 Avon Rd. (off Summer Ave.)

(9)  Jun Lee Trading Co. –  For all of your costume jewelry needs. Jun Lee has it all: a tiara, lace gloves, purses. Really any accessory (especially if it blings!) Pick up floral scarves—as a party favor for a summer birthday lunch. 4044 Summer Ave.

(10)  Antiques – We frequent Antique Warehouse Mall for furniture treasures to re-cover and re-imagine. 2563 Summer Ave. You’ll find endless booths of décor and home wares at Quantum Antique Gallery. Grab a shopping cart—you will need it. 5696 Summer Ave.

(11)  Lit Restaurant Supply – If you like to stock your kitchen like a commercial operation this is the place for you. You’ll find the best selection of party platters and serving utensils. Their frozen and pantry section rivals Costco. We love the giant vat of ranch dressing. 2965 Summer Ave.

(12) These breakfast spots have been around long before the word “brunch” was in the dictionary. Bryant’s Breakfast: It’s hard deciding what to get with their biscuits—bacon, gravy or both! 3965 Summer Ave. Pancake Shop: From chocolate chip to bacon chip—our favorite stack in town.  4838 Summer Ave.

(13) Lampshade House – Did you find a fabulous lamp at an estate sale?  It might need a new shade or a quick repair. It’s easy to get stumped on a shade, finial or bulb. Bring it in, they have it all. Including the ability to help you make a decision! 4870 Summer Ave.

(14) Memphis Professional Imaging – Don’t let your pictures live on your iPhone. Update your picture frames and print on their premium Kodak paper. They can also help with digital file and film transfers. 4780 Summer Ave.

(15) Mary Carter Decorating Center – For the home baker who acts like a professional. Third-generation owners continue to stock everything you could imagine. Countless sanding sugars, chocolates, sprinkles, cupcake liners and cake boxes in every hue. 733 North White Station Rd. (off Summer Ave.)

(16) Ryu Sushi and Pho – New owner and sushi chef, Rose Nguyen, has revamped Ryu. Now serving Vietnamese and Japanese delights. We love their pho, made with the freshest bone broth. Make sure you add sushi handrolls, yellowtail jalapeno and tuna tataki to your order. 5137 Summer Ave.

(17) Queen of Sheba  – For authentic Yemini food. You’ll love their hummus, but do you know Labnah? Family owned restaurant, Queen of Sheba has our favorite Middle Eastern “dip” with the freshest tandoori bread. We love their falafel, lamb and galabah. 4792 Summer Ave.

(18) Mid-South Hobbies and Games  – Where you can find landscaping for your model train panorama and all things model-toy related. For the hobbyist of any age, Mid-South Hobbies and Games, has the largest inventory of radio-controlled vehicles, diecast cars, kits for model airplanes and more. 4862 Summer Ave.

(19) Panda Garden  – Our favorite Chinese take-out. Call ahead and pick up at the drive thru. They serve old-fashioned (but not outdated) classics like chop suey. Our go-to order:  Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Moo Shu Beef, Spring Rolls and House Fried Rice. 3735 Summer Ave.