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The Man { And Heart } Behind Eat Local Memphis

Imagine a city where the local people only wanted to eat at nationally owned chains and great locally owned restaurants just can’t stay in business. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. These cities do exist. Fortunately, Memphis is not one of these cities thanks to local movements like Eat Local Memphis because they recognize one main truth – small businesses thrive on local support. “Break the Chain. Eat Local.” is the slogan of Eat Local Memphis. Since there is probably not much else I need to say to describe the fundamentals of the movement, I’ll spend the rest of this posting uncovering the man behind the movement and the sole organizer of the Eat Local Memphis blog.

If you are a frequent reader of the Eat Local Memphis blog, you understand that the food reviews are almost always written with a pop culture association essentially to illustrate a point and entertain himself when writing it, Thomas says. I’ll attempt to imitate that here. My simple pop culture analogy will hopefully help one understand the true heart of Eat Local Memphis and the heart of its founder along with his role in the movement.

Eat Local Memphis in essence takes on the persona of Superman, an admired champion for the people. The eat local movement is something people seemed to have been waiting to get behind since eating local spurs our local economy and makes our city unique. If Eat Local Memphis is Superman, who you may ask is Clark Kent? Meet your average guy and lover of Memphis, Thomas Robinson. The analogy from here I found became quite easy. Smart, good looking, kind, and humble. Thomas is definitely our Clark Kent.

Over a brunch at The Beauty Shop, Thomas and his lovely lady Kat sealed those traits in my mind. Yes, Thomas started the Eat Local Memphis blog after Kat opened up her small bakery Muddy’s Bake Shop, but not once was it about solely promoting Kat’s business. There was the hands-on understanding that great small businesses along with their sweat and passion needed to be recognized. With the focus on local food and from the standpoint that food ties the city together, the eat local movement was formed.

Not long after we sat down to eat, I could tell Thomas and Kat not only supported local restaurants just by eating there but by getting to know the servers and owners. It’s about building relationships, says Thomas. This was also the reason why he couldn’t tell me his one favorite restaurant in Memphis as to not single out or leave any great ones out. He did give me a list of restaurants he and Kat frequented: Beauty Shop, Dejavu, Tsunami, Sweet Grass, Felicia Suzannes, and Trolley Stop Market. Places they're eager to try out and review are Acre on South Perkins, Bar None, Erling Jensen, and Jim’s Place East. This only proves there are incredible local choices for restaurants in Memphis.

The other thing I was curious to know was Thomas’ full time job which kind of made me say, “of course.” Thomas works at the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) in fundraising development. They are a non-profit organization that addresses the challenges of poverty and started the movement “Something Good in Memphis.” Again revealing how much his heart is into helping Memphis. And with that, I leave you with the visual analogy we found very fitting to the Superman/Clark Kent theme in the very bottom photo.

Thanks Thomas and Kat for what you do to promote Memphis! You can also support local restaurants by buying the bumper stickers or t-shirts (slogan and design by Kat and her brother Kip) here or at various restaurants like Muddy’s or S.O.B. The proceeds go to the restaurant.

Food Details: Kat - egg pizzette. Thomas - carnitas and pear eggs Benedict, a grapefruit juice. You can see what Christopher, Atticus and I ordered at the Eat Local Memphis blog where he so kindly did a cross post about my blog origin also. 

Photos except those tagged eatlocalmemphis by Sophorn.


  1. I went to try Beauty Shop for the first time for their lemon ricotta pancakes and BLTA sandwich. I came to eat at Beauty Shop for Sunday brunch about half an hour after it opened. Lemon ricotta pancakes: burnt and no powdered sugar. BLTA sandwich with egg: only 1 egg, overcooked with little yolk left and burnt. Asked waitress if it's supposed to be 2 eggs while ordering (I've seen a picture posted by eatlocalmemphis.org where it shows as 2 eggs: http://www.eatlocalmemphis.org/2011/07/19/beauty-and-my-best-photo-ever/), the waitress said yes. Asked waitress after I received the dish about the number of eggs, then waitress said only 1 egg. After seeing the overcooked egg, I asked the waitress to tell the cook to recook the egg, egg ended up undercooked with little yolk and burnt again. The cook needs to clean his/her cooking surface. I did not receive the complimentary side (chips or fruit) with my sandwich either (as stated on the menu). When we asked the waitress that all sandwiches should come with a side, she quickly defended the restaurant by saying that the BLTA does not come with either chips or fruit, and added that they have ran out of chips (when the restaurant has barely started its day). Overall, this has been the worst brunch experience I have been to. I tipped the waitress well for helping me change the egg (as I felt that it was mostly the cook's fault, not hers), but I will never be going back.

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