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Memphis’ oldest restaurant celebrates one century of business on South Main

Owners of The Arcade Restaurant hosted a block party Aug. 24 to celebrate 100 years of business.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A diner in the South Main district that claims to be Memphis’ oldest restaurant celebrated a milestone Saturday: 100 years in business.

The Arcade Restaurant hosted a block party on Main Street in front of the restaurant and offered 100 cent specials in honor of the restaurant being open for a century. A portion of the proceeds from the 100-cent special went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“For 100 years, half the life of our vibrant community, The Arcade Restaurant has stood stoically,” Shelby County Historian Jimmy Rout said. “The Arcade has withstood The Great Depression, endured WWII and war rationing, persevered during our civil rights struggle, and survived urban renewal. The Arcade is the ‘grand dame’ of the neighborhood.”

Started in 1919 by Greek immigrant Speros Zepatos, The Arcade has remained in the same family the entire time it has been open, though the building went under a remodel in the 1950s to the design it boasts currently.

“We are honored to continue to be a favorite diner of both Memphians and tourists alike,” Jeff Zepatos, owner of The Arcade Restaurant, said. “Four generations of the Zepatos family have now run The Arcade. We look forward to the next 100 years.”

A staple of the South Main district, the restaurant has been the backdrop for some film productions like “The Firm” and “Walk the Line.”

The block of South Main in front of the restaurant was closed off to make space for Saturday’s all-day celebration, which had the feel of a neighborhood block party with music, games and children’s activities like face-painting.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland even stopped by the celebration to proclaim Saturday as The Arcade Day in Memphis.

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