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Collierville Town Square restaurant space experiences generations of adaptive reuse

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Collierville’s Historic Town Square isn’t just showing its age, it’s flaunting it.

New business owners are moving into its old spaces in the Square this summer, and restauranteur Mac Edwards is one of them.

His new eatery’s address is 120 Mulberry Street, which used to house the Café Grill. Before the Café Grill, the space held Brooks Pharmacy, and before that, Rexall Drug Store.

The building was constructed in 1898. While there isn’t specific information available about what type of business was at 120 Mulberry before the Rexall Drug Store, fire insurance maps from 1913 and 1930 can give us a general idea. The maps show a mix of general stores, drug stores, feed stores, a telephone exchange, and a bank on Mulberry Street.

Depending on the year of the map, the businesses reflect the response of a then much smaller Collierville to the needs of her residents. The maps reflect a time when town squares were truly the center of a community’s everyday life. The contrast with the type of businesses that line the Square now – gift shops, restaurants, specialty food shops, high end clothing shops – shows how much Collierville has grown in the years since the maps were made.

Watson “Watty” Brooks Hall is the owner of the property. Because so much of her past was spent at 120 Mulberry in her father’s pharmacy, she is very much in favor of preserving as much of the past as possible while tweaking what is needed to accommodate new business.

She is looking forward to Edwards’ newest food venture, Pharm2Fork, and is honored that he wanted to locate in her space. The honor is returned in Edwards’ naming of his restaurant; Brooks Pharm2Fork tells the public what he has to offer while acknowledging the history of the building and its former occupants.

Hall noted that Edwards, who also owns The Farmer on Highland Ave. in Memphis, favors the “industrial” look in his décor and that was something they had in common.

 

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http://www.thefarmermemphis.com/

 

“He likes the exposed brick and the mix of furnishings to make an eclectic look,” she said.

And the picture rail that runs around the room’s walls about 3 feet from the ceiling holds not only Edwards’s atmosphere enhancing decorative finds, but also actual signs from when the space was Brooks Pharmacy.

That’s another nod to the past.

“My dad worked long hours, so my mother would pack a picnic basket and we would sit in the soda fountain area to have supper as a family. If these walls could talk,” she said, looking around at the empty room that will soon be packed with diners.

The space didn’t stay empty for very long. Hall’s previous tenant, Café Grille owner Andy Chow did business at 120 Mulberry for 22 years and was a model tenant, according to Hall.

“He gave me a whole year’s notice that he would be moving out,” she said.

That year was up recently, and Brooks Pharm2Fork is set to open early this summer.

Most of the business spaces in Collierville’s Historic Town Square are around 100 years old. Their quality construction and friendliness to foot traffic make them ideal candidates for adaptive reuse.

Their history and character make them somewhere business owners and their customers want to be.

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