Behind the deal: From vacant Crosstown building to gourmet Doghouzz

By Corey Davis  – Staff Reporter,
Memphis Business Journal
May 8, 2019

Robert Taylor knew something was in the works for the Crosstown area. The former president of the Crosstown neighborhood association, he remembers telling neighbors that the abandoned, former Sears Crosstown building would one day be resurrected and revitalized. Now that Crosstown Concourse is a reality, Taylor and three business partners are perfectly positioned with Doghouzz, their new gourmet hot dog restaurant and bar. “I used to hear from a lot of neighbors that we need to tear down the Sears [building] because it was blight,” Taylor said. “But, I knew a building that size, one of the largest in the state, was coming back; we just had to be patient.”

Construction is ongoing for The Doghouzz. Photo by Corey Davis

Taylor and his business partner Steve Murphy have co-owned a gay bar called the Pumping Station on Poplar Avenue for 18 years. In 2012, they decided to purchase the small, old, vacant building at 1349 Autumn Ave. that used to be the Metro gay bar and dance club across from Sears Crosstown. They paid $60,000 for the building.

“We knew when we bought the building that the Crosstown Concourse project was going to happen or in the works before it really became public,” Murphy said. Taylor acknowledged it took a few years for them to figure out a vision for the building. They thought about turning it into a restaurant about four years ago, but the space had some major issues that needed to be fixed.

“There were several issues with the building: The roof had collapsed, and some of the customers told me when the Metro bar was here, the sewer used to back up in the kitchen. Not surprisingly,” Taylor said, “we had to redo the plumbing because having a restaurant with the sewer backed up will be the end of your business right there.” Murphy and Taylor’s other partner in the Doghouzz is Ray Rico.

Rico is the owner of Ray Rico Freelance, an advertising and marketing agency on Young Avenue. Rico is handling the marketing aspect of Doghouzz. Rico worked at the Pumping Station in the past and developed a friendship with Taylor and Murphy. The 4,400-square-foot restaurant will include a newly renovated patio. Murphy said Doghouzz will have a large selection of whiskey and a variety of local craft and domestic beers at its wooden bar area. The renovated venue will also showcase local entertainment acts, including weekly Saturday night dance parties with DJ Record Player. Operating hours will be Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Doghouzz is expected to open in June.

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