Every restaurant, cafe, and deli has a story, and the Arcade Restaurant located on South Main Street in Memphis, Tennessee has one of the oldest stories in all of Memphis. Its Greek Revival style architecture stands erect next to the historical Central Station which has been a train station since 1855. But the restaurant's age isn't the only thing that put it on the map, but rather it was a young Memphis singer who loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
The Arcade Restaurant History
Founded in 1919 by Speros Zepatos after immigrating from Cephalonia, Greece, The Arcade Restaurant served great food cooked on potbelly stoves to hungry Memphis customers in a small wooden one-story building. In the 1920s, Zepatos tore down the building and built the Arcade Building, complete with retail shops.
In the 1950s, Speros Zepatos son, Harry Zepatos, took over the business and turned it into a hip fifties diner that you still see today. The retro signage and original storefront still stand while the boomerang table designs are worn from the thousands of diners putting their arms on the tabletops while eating their favorite "meat-and-three".
Around that same time, Elvis, who was a teen, was just starting to hit the music scene. His first records were recorded at Sun Records, located only a few short minutes away. Elvis would come to the Arcade restaurant to eat, sitting in the same booth on every visit. According to Harry Zepatos Jr., grandson of the Arcade's founder, Elvis would keep an eye on the mirrored wall for fans. If it seemed like they were starting to gather, he would quickly escape out the side door.
Today the "Elvis booth" is one of the busiest tables in the restaurant, with diners waiting to sit at the same seat where the King ate. The booth houses a framed picture of Elvis Presley, so you can stare into his eyes while you eat your sweet potato pancakes or country-fried steak.
Menu Items to Try at the Arcade Restuarant
Open from 7 am to 3 pm, for dine-in and take-out, the restaurant boasts a full bar complete with morning spirits for brunch. The breakfast menu features regulars such as french toast, grits, and omelets as well as special dishes such as Eggs Redneck (pictured above), which is considered a Travel Channel favorite. The dish includes Sausage, chicken, or bacon with biscuits soaked in gravy with eggs and hash browns. For lunch, grab fried chicken, a cheeseburger, or the famous fried banana and peanut butter sandwich. End the meal with powder-sugar dusted beignets or one of The Arcade's famous spiked shakes. Order the Shake it Like the King, a boozy shake of Irish Cream, Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Peanut Butter, and you'll be doing the Jailhouse Rock before you know it.