The Liquor Store,
One Couple’s Delicious Diner Success Story
By Linda Milks
On a recent trip to Memphis I was inspired by the story of one woman who grabbed her dreams and made them a reality. I wanted to know more, so I met Lisa Toro at The Liquor Store on Broad Street in Memphis’ Broad Avenue Arts District.
Lisa didn’t start out her working career thinking she would have her own business. Her career has led her to the worlds of audit, finance, recruiting and digital marketing. Lisa and her husband, Luis, who grew up in Venezuela, have run a successful coffee and American-made craft goods shop on Broad, City & State, for the past three years.
When the opportunity to open at first the coffee shop and later the restaurant at the former liquor store a few blocks away occurred, Lisa was unable to get financial support from any traditional financial group. After lamenting the difficulties of obtaining financing to a group of women friends, one of them said, “Do we really need the gentlemen?”
From this gathering, the group decided to create a network designed to invest in a number of key underserved neighborhoods in Memphis for women and minority entrepreneurs. They called themselves The Broad Angel Network, a play on the location where this group was founded. The first meeting drew double the attendance they expected.
The Liquor Store, a diner and bar, displays the building’s unique liquor store neon signage. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a full bar in homage to its original roots.
When we walked into this quaint space, we were immediately engaged by the tropical table and bar coverings as well as the white wicker and cane chairs that provide a playful and fun environment.
We were greeted by Lisa Toro, a woman who exudes her enthusiasm and love of people. We could also feel she was proud of the space she and her husband (the one responsible for the branding and creative work) have created. She confided that being a part of the community, their success depends on understanding the city around them.
The real test to the goodness of a restaurant is the food and cocktails, and we were ready to check out the menu. Even though we were there for breakfast, it is The Liquor Store. We had been told that of all the alcohol-forward cocktails, we should try the Matcha Milk Punch, a combination of rum, matcha, milk, honey, cinnamon and mint. Such a delicious drink!
As we gazed down the menu, we had difficulty deciding what to have. Would it be the Butter-Rich Biscuits topped with a creamy shitake mushroom gravy, perfect for vegetarians? There was also the Sweet Potato Hash made with sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, spinach, and topped with two sunny-side up eggs and a breakfast meat. Or, how about a Cuban sandwich with house-made Cuban bread served with plantains. Would our choice be the Cuban Platter of yellow rice, black beans, fried plantain and vegetable with the option of Cuban pork or chicken? We decided to try several of these intriguing dishes and sample each. I can testify that none of us regretted our choices!
What’s new at The Liquor Store? Lisa took us behind the restaurant to see a backyard of aqua colored picnic tables. An outdoor bar was surrounded by two railway shipping containers that extend the length of the building and house the prep kitchen, the walk-in refrigerator, bakery, and storage that all helps create a festive outdoor dining area.
When you are in Memphis, The Liquor Store is a must-see destination. The hours of operation are: Monday, 8am – 2pm; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 8am – 9 pm; Friday and Saturday, 8am – 11pm; Sunday, 8am – 4pm.
The Liquor Store is located at 2655 Broad Avenue in Memphis and can be reached at (901) 405-5477.
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Author’s Note: As is customary in this industry, we were hosted at The Liquor Store. However, my comments come from my love of this place and Lisa’s endeavors.