Big Brother star Memphis Garrett bringing Ya Mas Taverna to Edge District

Ya Mas Taverna, a Fort Lauderdale-based Mediterranean restaurant, is headed to the Edge District.

The Florida restaurant has a Memphis connection, but not the one you think.

Memphis Garrett is the founder and CEO of Garrett Hospitality Group, which oversees such brands as Blue Wave Sushi, LadyMay, No Man’s Land, and Point Break Poke House.

Garrett is also widely known as the runner-up on CBS’ “Big Brother” in 2008 and a houseguest again in “Big Brother: All-Stars” in 2020.

Garrett grew up in Collierville and knows the owners of the building at 633 Monroe Ave. The property was bought for $700,000 in February 2022 by It’s Not Me It’s You LLC, led by Jon Hodge and Reuben “Tripp” Atkinson III. A $2.8 million rehab of the three-story building was approved for a 10-year PILOT by the Downtown Memphis Commission in April.

“They basically tempted me to come back and open a restaurant there,” Garrett said.

“We’re expanding my company pretty extensively. We’re opening in Chicago this year, and another venue in West Palm Beach,” he said. “I started flying back to Memphis and looking at this location. It made sense. Memphis obviously holds a dear place in my heart.”

Garrett originally had another one of his concepts in mind for the Edge property.

“We were going to put one of my concepts called LadyMay. It’s a Southern coastal restaurant that brings a flair of the South, like Charleston and Savannah,” he said. “We ended up not going with Southern [cuisine], even though that’s probably what majority of people eat in Memphis and what I love to eat and grew up on. I didn’t want to compete with your mom’s mac and cheese and her beans.”

Garrett said that Ya Mas is “a whole vibe.”

“I [want to] bring something super unique to Memphis,” Garrett said of Ya Mas. “It hits the full spectrum when you’re talking about a great brunch space or a place to go out with your girlfriends or your friends. The whole ambience is very important to us, not just the menu. We call it ‘fun dining.’ We have the elements of a fine dining restaurant, but we want it to be fun.”

Ya Mas offers classic Mediterranean dishes such as falafel and dolmades. There are lamb dishes and seafood dishes, and, of course, baklava.

The bar will feature craft cocktails and large-format spritzes.

Capacity for the restaurant will be between 85 to 100, with around 45 employees. The restaurant is aiming for a summer 2023 opening.

Garrett said the Edge District is an ideal location for Ya Mas, pointing out the nearby Medical District and AutoZone Park.

Bringing more of Garrett Hospitality Group restaurants to the Memphis area is not out of the question, he said.

“We’ll see. We will see,” Garrett said. “The majority of my family lives [in Memphis]. So for me, it’s the ability to be home a little bit more, which is always a good thing.”

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