Maciel’s opens new location as Highland Strip continues growth

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Could the Highland Strip be the “new Beale Street?” Some say it may be on the way.

The recent opening of Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos at 525 S. Highland Street last weekend is just one example of the growth happening there.

Ryan Haskett, a frequent visitor to the Strip and regular DJ and performer at The Bluff, says good things are happening on the Strip.

“I think that Highland Strip is booming. I think this is the new Beale Street of Memphis. We have a ton of new businesses that are opening,” Haskett said.

The row of early 20th-century storefronts near the University of Memphis has gone through ups and downs since it became popular with college students in the late 1960s.

But for the past couple of years, it has been the scene of a major renovation effort by owner Loeb Properties, which also redeveloped Overton Square.

Taylor Berger, restaurant developer and co-owner of Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos, has been impressed with the recent growth, which made it easier for Maciel’s to open a second restaurant on Highland.

“I’ve been coming to the Highland Strip since I was a kid and I’ve just been amazed at the progress it’s made,” Berger said. ”Especially over the last five years and we just wanted to be a part of that.”

Manuel Martinez, the other owner of Maciel’s, says that even though Maciel’s been Downtown for three years a lot of people still don’t know about it.

“For me, it’s an opportunity to bring my food to the east part of Memphis,” Martinez said.

Berger hopes that with a larger location, the new Maciel's can bring some diversity to the Strip.

“We are right around Chickasaw Gardens and High Point and then all of the nice apartments around here are full of young people and families, not just college students,” Berger said.

Haskett says that because of the central location of the Highland strip and with classic patrons like Newby's and the Whatever shop, to new places like The Bluff, it provides a place for people outside of the city to come, too.

“You can get here from anywhere you are in the city,” Haskett said. “From Downtown, Midtown, you can get here and there is a lot to offer.”

The district also includes furniture and clothing stores, coffee shops, burgers and late-night cookies.

“If you need anything you can find it on the strip,” Haskett said.