100th Anniversary of the Arcade Restaurant

Written by CeCe Owens

This is Memphis!

Situated on the corner of South Main Street and G.E. Patterson is The Arcade Restaurant, a legend since 1919. Speros Zepatos immigrated from Greece to Memphis, founding the restaurant in a small, one story, wood framed building and cooking on pot belly stoves. The 1920’s style architecture seen today was the result of Speros tearing down that wood frame in 1925 and building The Arcade Building, complete with retail stores.

It was the 2nd generation of Zepatos that took the Arcade to the next level in the 1950’s, adapting the fifties style experienced by today’s patrons. With Memphis coming alive in the mid 1960’s, the location became the busiest intersection in the city, so much that policeman were needed 24 hours a day to direct traffic. That excitement changed as businesses left the downtown following the decline of railroad transportation and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., buildings were boarded up as residents headed to the outlining areas of the Memphis. The quiet did not last too long with the arrival of the most famous Memphis resident, ELVIS, who fell in love with The Arcade Restaurant, even was a regular patron for breakfast and lunch. Today, you can indulge yourself by sitting in the honorary “Elvis booth” as you

fill the tummy with his favorite sandwich, a peanut butter and banana masterpiece. The

King of Rock and Roll boosted the business turning The Arcade into a tourist destination.

Throughout the decades, The Arcade Restaurant survived it all, becoming a historical landmark. It’s a trip back in time, something that attracted Hollywood movie studios as scenes from Mystery Train, Great Balls of Fire, The Client, The Firm, Walk the Line and too many others to name, were filmed in the restaurant.

The family has given great care to preserve the old-time charm while presenting favorable menu options from the classic breakfast to “The Memphis Thang”, a smoked turkey sandwich complimented by tasty creole mustard to “Memphis Fire”, a homemade pizza with spicy marinara. Every menu item, every bite delights and the atmosphere makes everything taste better.

There is a lot of history between the walls, stories from every booth, amazing food from the kitchen and traditions continue today by the 3rd generation of Zepatos. Right outside the front door is the national historic marker which honors the family who committed to the City of Memphis, continuing to positively impact the South Main Historic District. On the Bicentennial of Memphis is only fitting to wish Happy 100th Birthday to The Arcade Restaurant, the oldest restaurant and famous Memphis landmark.

The Arcade Restaurant is located at 540 S. Main Street in Memphis, Tennessee.


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CeCe Owens

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