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  • Lionel Hollins, nonprofit director team up on new Overton Square restaurant

    Lionel Hollins, Lionel Hollins, nonprofit director team up on new Overton Square restaurant

    Former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is teaming up with the director of a local nonprofit to bring a new restaurant — and novel concept — to Overton Square.

    The restaurant will serve "Southern-inspired" fare in the former Schweinehaus space, and the owners plan to donate 2 percent of net food sales* to the Mid-South Food Bank. They estimate the restaurant will earn more than $30,000 for the nonprofit in its first year.

    "I’ve been looking for something to do since I’ve been out of coaching, not knowing whether I’m going to get back in or not," Hollins said. "When you have something that, on one hand, makes money but, on the other hand, helps the community, it was a no-brainer."

    The restaurant is the brain child of Edward Bogard, director of the Memphis-based shoe charity SoGiv, and will take his last name. The idea sprang from a partnership he forged with the food bank in 2014 to allow sales of a special SoGiv shoe to benefit the nonprofit.
    "It was so fulfilling," Bogard said. "I wanted to do something like that on a more consistent basis."

    Bogard knew Hollins from a partnership SoGiv had with Hollins' charity.

    "It’s a perfect location. Midtown is blossoming," Hollins said.

    And, Hollins hopes the restaurant's success shows other black entrepreneurs that they can be successful in Midtown — a part of town with few black-owned businesses.

    Eventually, Bogard believes the restaurant will spread "all over the world," in part because it allows people to feel good about where they're eating and in part because of the great food it will serve.

    As neither Bogard nor Hollins have restaurant experience, Ben McLean of Belly Acres and Tennessee Taco Co. is consulting on the project and designing the menu. Ed Cabigao of South of Beale and Zaka Bowl will be the general manager. The menu is set to include items such as fried green tomatoes, ribs, avocado toast and calamari.

    The restaurant plans to capitalize each letter in BOGARD, as an acronym for Buying One Gives Another Rare Dish. Mid-South Food Bank communications manager Andrew Bell said he's excited for the novel concept to become reality.

    "There are some businesses that continually or seasonally help the Food Bank," Bell said. "But, standardizing a part of the restaurant’s business model to financially support Mid-South Food Bank [year-round] is rather unique. An almost equally important aspect is creating exposure about food insecurity in a very popular entertainment district, where patrons are reminded of a serious problem in theircommunity while they enjoy fine dining."

    Hollins' son-in-law, Preston Butts, will be a minority owner in the restaurant. Loeb Realty Group's Barry Maynard represented Bogard, Hollins and Butts in the lease, which was signed Wednesday and is set for 10 years. Loeb Properties' Aaron Petree represented his company, which owns the building.

    With as volatile as the restaurant industry is, Hollins said he knows the venture is risky, but he's not one to shy away from risk.

    "Everything you have a passion for in life is risky," Hollins said. "Every time you go and take a big shot, the possibility of missing is there. [But,] the point is to try to win the game, not worry about losing it."

    When asked if he plans on ever coaching in the NBA again, Hollins said it is still a hope of his but that he doesn't know if he'll receive the opportunity. Either way, he said he plans to maintain Memphis — where he's lived for 15 years — as his home town.

    "Memphis is my home. Memphis is my passion," he said. "I love the direction it's going in. I'm excited to be here and call myself a Memphian."

    *While 2 percent of net food sales will go to the food bank, 2 percent of net drink sales will be donated to clean water charities.
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