The corridor on Front Street by the One Beale project and the former Wm. C. Ellis & Sons building has been under construction for what can seem like forever. But the second stage of the project is complete, revealing a chic beer garden and cafe oasis nestled in the middle of downtown. Open to the public since late June, Talk Shop aims to feed downtown workers and visitors, as well as provide a hip late-night hangout.
The Hyatt team envisioned a one-stop-shop to serve as a Caption by Hyatt food and beverage option. A long counter in the shared Talk Shop/hotel lobby spans most of the space and includes the restaurant sections, a full-service bar, and a coffee roasting station. The Hearth Bar is the centerpiece of the counter, housing customizable breakfast options and other assorted baked goods for sale. Directly outside is the beer garden patio, perfect for getting some fresh air and watching passers-by stroll down Front Street.
Adam Arencibia, who earlier this year was named executive chef at Hyatt Centric and CIMAS, a three-minute walk from Front, also runs the Talk Shop kitchen. “It’s a bit more laid back here than CIMAS,” he says. “For this menu, we wanted to have a super fun experience, a localized menu that can appeal to all kinds of people. We wanted to avoid anything that seemed too pretentious. Just good local entertainment and great food.
Arencibia’s down-to-earth experience makes him adept at juggling several different restaurants at One Beale. He came to Memphis in 2021 when he was appointed Associate Executive Chef at Capital Grille and has long cultivated a passion for cooking. But at an early age, this passion had to compete with a love for Superior gun and a desire to become a pilot. The Las Vegas native eventually found his thrills in the galley rather than the cockpit, making his way to some of Nevada’s top hotels alongside top professionals like Michael Mina and three-star Michelin chef Joël Robuchon.
Talk Shop is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. For breakfast or brunch (served until 11:30 a.m.), Arencibia points to the boutique’s French toast, one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.
“We soak [the bread] in this milk and cereal pastry cream prepared overnight, and it’s really delicious,” he says. “And then we layer it with a beautiful glaze that’s a caramelization of fresh sugar, berries, and local syrups.” Heartier options are also available, such as biscuits and gravy with pork sausage and black pepper paysanne sauce, or the croque madame made with a fried egg, hardwood-smoked bacon and chili cheese.
For those looking for a bit more customization, the counter-top Hearth Bar section should be the first stop. Featured options to order include toast with smashed avocado, radish, oven-roasted tomato and seed shake on a brioche bun, or the lox with smoked salmon, Boursin cheese, red onion, a hard-boiled egg and arugula piled on sourdough.
But the build-it-yourself station is where the hearth bar really shines. Fancy a béchamel on brioche garnished with Boursin? You can make that happen. Or toss arugula pesto on a flatbread topped with capicola and parmesan, if desired. Each order includes a base, a sauce and two toppings. “It’s basically a build-it-yourself breakfast or snack there with the amount of options we have,” Arencibia says. “It’s probably one of my favorite parts of our menu. And it lasts all day too.
“We wanted to have a super fun experience, a localized menu that can appeal to all kinds of people. We wanted to avoid anything that seemed too pretentious. Just good local entertainment and great food. —Adam Arencibia
The rest of the menu, titled “Beyond Breakfast”, includes lunch and dinner offerings, with plenty of tasty snacks to please diners throughout the day until the Talk Shop closes at the end of the evening. The charcuterie and cheese platter is a large assorted charcuterie board, perfect for a group of grazers. The pigs in a blanket with Cajun honey mustard make an easy snack, and the baked mac and cheese is delicious, with a smooth peppercorn bechamel, bacon and pork skin crust.
But by far the most popular Beyond Breakfast item is Netta’s Chicken Sammy, a spicy fried chicken sandwich topped with hot honey sauce and coleslaw, topped with dill pickles and lemon lettuce. butter. “I admit we over-thought that one,” Arencibia laughs. “We were all doing it from a culinary high point of view, spending too much time working in the workshop. One of our team members, Netta, basically said, “Whoa, slow down!” Keep it simple, put some hot honey sauce and coleslaw on it and people will love it. Sure enough, they did, and it’s one of our best sellers. She really got us back on track there.
Talk Shop also has a station (just across the bar) for local snacks to go, but the place is primarily designed for cozy dining experiences. Colorful furniture and tables in the long rectangular interior make it easy to display with a laptop for a long work session or meeting, or just as a fun place to hang out. The patio directly outside is set up like an outdoor cafe, with greenery hanging from the walls, fire pits throughout, and lots of exposed brickwork.
If you’ve driven Front lately, you know the exterior retains the familiar Wm. C. Ellis and Sons logo and facade. For happy hour, enjoy Wm. C. Pilsner, specially brewed for Talk Shop by Grind City Brewing. There are also colorful cocktails – or test your creativity and “Mix It Up” and make your own cocktail, served in a tall pineapple-shaped glass. Hotel guests who are lucky enough to face west can head upstairs to their room balcony with their food and drink for a view of the Mississippi River.
Arencibia says of the future of Talk Shop and the One Beale project: “When the third hotel is in place, I will also take charge of their kitchen. We don’t know yet what form it will take, but I’m excited.
Talk Shop is located on the ground floor of the Caption by Hyatt hotel at 245 S. Front St. The restaurant is open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday. TALKSHOPMEMPHIS.COM