Lafayette’s opens up to Overton Square
From The Commercial Appeal
Construction crews on Thursday were completing a renovation to Lafayette’s Music Room in Overton Square, even though the long-closed, colorful bar was revived, restored and re-opened just three years ago.
The ownership group led by Tommy Peters — who also heads the owners of the five B.B. King’s Blues Clubs across the South — decided to open up the front of Lafayette’s by inserting two, long bars in the exterior wall.
A roll-down door with glass windows can be raised to expose Lafayette’s to the outside on nice days, or be lowered on bad-weather days.
The change not only makes getting a drink easier on a jammed weekend night by adding spots for 60 more bar stools, the new openings — each 17 feet wide and seven feet high — are designed to create appealing views looking outside onto the Square and inside onto the music stage.
“Our patios have been a great asset for us,” Peters said. “We decided to try to make them better by putting indoor-outdoor bars on both levels.”
The two bars, made of cypress harvested in the Hatchie River bottom land, are each double-sided.
Guests sitting outside on the patios can be at the bar to see the stage inside.
Patrons inside can be at the bars to see the often-crowded sidewalks of the rejuvenated Overton Square, Boscos directly across Madison Avenue and a shimmering, sequined mural on Local Gastropub.
Peters walked out on the second-floor patio, saying, “When you’re sitting out here, you can’t have a better seat.”
He knows something about successful bars/music venues. He led an ownership group that opened B.B. King’s on Beale in 1988. Now, the group owns B.B. King’s clubs also in Nashville, Orlando, Montgomery and New Orleans.
Peters is president of Lafayette’s Music Room LLC, his wife Liz Peters is the managing director and Bob Nance is the other shareholder.
Peters has the distinction of being involved with two successful but very different entertainment districts. Ninety-three percent of the customers at B.B. King’s on Beale are from out of town, and 99 percent of Lafayette’s patrons are local, he said.
Midtown’s Overton Square was substantially empty and struggling five years ago when Loeb Properties bought and renovated it with the help of a parking structure built by the City of Memphis. Now, the district is 100 percent leased with restaurants and shops, and Loeb has installed public art in nearly every nook and cranny and on every available blank wall.
“Everything that’s done has to be approved by Loeb,” Peters said. “They keep a quality-control component that’s very important. So, if you just look at everything around here, all the other businesses are just beautiful. That translates into nice business.
”… Lou and Bobby Loeb have done a great job with this development.”
Peters expressed elation over the engineering and construction performance in Lafayette’s renovation. “This is the first project I ever started with engineers” instead of designers, said Peters, indicating any problems were solved at the front end. He praised Allen & Hoshall design and engineering firm as well as Dale Wells of Commercial & Industrial Construction Services.