MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than a dozen downtown Memphis restaurant owners and operators received a tour Monday of the nearly completed, multi-million dollar facelift Tom Lee Park received in anticipation of the upcoming opening in less than two weeks.
They saw the new park’s unique playground features, 16,000 square feet of canopy space, walking paths, and public artwork.
Patrick Reilly and his wife Deni Reilly, owners of the Majestic Grille and Cocozza American Italian, helped organize the tour for the restaurant community.
“And show them this amazing new park that’s going to start generating a year-round stream of visitors that come down not just for five days out of the year,” Patrick Reilly said. “We are really bullish on downtown, and we’re really positive, and we feel like we’re on the way up.”
There is also a robust program schedule. A pickleball event is in the works and there’s also the potential for the park to host Grizzlies watch parties.
A park manager told the group Monday he conservatively estimates at least 800,000 people could visit per year, saying that’s a four-fold increase. The estimate comes at a time when Memphis in May officials say they’re now exploring other venues for future events.
“A city does not survive on two weekends out of the year. A city survives on 52 weekends out of year. For us it’s about people coming downtown in May, in June, in September coming down in December for Christmas lights and markets. A vibrant city is not one weekend out of the year,” Reilly said.
Jeffrey Zepatos with the Arcade Restaurant looks forward to bringing his family to the park.
“I’ve got a young child at home. We live downtown, and it’s just wonderful what the city has put together and the family atmosphere that’s down here at Tom Lee Park now,” Zepatos said.
Reilly believes it’s the beginning of an exciting future as the downtown mobility parking garage was just built, and the Brooks Museum is also under construction.