A new upscale lounge is opening in the South Main Arts District this week.
WKND Hang Suite, a concept that began in Nashville, is opening its second location in Memphis in the former Hollywood Raiford’s at 115 Vance Avenue.
Owners Adrian ‘AG’ Granderson, Joe Johnson, and Robert Higgins, are all from Memphis and all graduated from Tennessee State University. They run multiple venues together in the Nashville metro area. Joe Johnson says that when they started dreaming about expansion, they considered a few cities, but Memphis made the most sense because of the support system that they already had here and the signs they saw of how the city is progressing.
“We watched the boom in Nashville and we knew that it was getting ready to come west. I didn’t want to miss the boom. I wanted to get right in up front and be a part of it. Memphis is probably about to be the nation’s next “it” city.”
Johnson says they came to scout locations and were actually looking in another part of town when their agent told them that the old Raiford’s was available. “The minute we walked in, we said ‘This is it.’ A couple of weeks later we signed the deal.”
WKND Hang Suite brands itself as an “anti-club,” deliberately avoiding some of the amenities and the vibe that’s typical of nightclubs. While there will be live music and DJs, there won’t be anyone spilling drinks on you while in the midst of the Cupid Shuffle. “There’s no dance floor. No smoke and mirrors, no flashing lights, just a cool place. Nice vibe. Good drinks. Good people. Good times,” says Johnson.
WKND Memphis was designed to provide a sophisticated and comfortable environment for people to chat and chill. They want to be the place where you grab drinks before heading to the FedExForum or wind down after work or a show at the Orpheum. They even want to be your Sunday Funday destination, with plans to host a special “Afterbrunch” set every week.
There’s plenty of plush seating arranged into “suites” that are labeled with room numbers and can be reserved. There’s also a more private room that Johnson says will be ideal for birthday groups, and there’s a covered patio. The entire venue will be available to rent for private events outside of the regular hours of operation.
As for food, much of the menu has carried over from Nashville, like their famous wings and shrimp, but they have also taken stock of what’s available in the surrounding neighborhood and are trying to add something a little bit different. WKND has been testing new items they want to introduce for Memphis, such as their battered and fried lobster bites that Johnson says went over quite well during the soft openings. There are also signature cocktails in the works including the Henny Margarita, and Tiger’s Blood, a blue concoction created in homage to the University of Memphis.