Huey’s celebrates its 40th anniversary

[singlepic id=197 w=320 h=240 float=right]by Samantha Dean, with an introduction by Michelle Campbell

It’s not hard to believe that Huey’s Midtown has been around for 40 years. I remember my parents taking me there as a kid, shooting toothpicks at the ceiling as a college student, and sharing a beer with friends after work as an adult. I also had the privilege of working with Thomas Boggs, who taught me the importance of running a cost-effective business. Thomas was always willing to give his support to anyone that asked for his advice on launching a new business venture, especially in midtown. He helped me when I opened Fork It Over Catering, as well as Ben Smith, when he opened Tsunami. Thomas generously helped me equip my kitchen, gave me the knowledge on how to run a business from behind the scenes, and most importantly, showed me the importance of giving back to the community that supports you!

Alan Gary opened Huey’s in March of 1970. The name Huey’s comes from his childhood nickname, Huey. He came up with the idea of creating a bar that was fun and unique, a place where he and all his friends could have a good time. Of course, no good time is had without a good burger, and he didn’t have to go far to find the best meat in town. It was just a block down the road, at John Gray Big Star where he had them grind his secret mix daily. That tradition goes on, with a special blend of beef ground daily at Charlie’s Meat Market to make our World Famous Huey Burgers just as special today.

Thomas Boggs became involved in Huey’s in 1975 at the midtown location. He always had a knack for the hospitality industry. He started working at the age of 14 for Davis Rexall, who Boggs credits for teaching him the basics of service.

Later, married with children, Boggs went back to school to finish his degree in history. He waited tables at T.G.I. Friday’s while in school and went on to work in the corporate offices of Friday’s in Dallas, traveling to open their new outlets. After leaving Friday’s, he moved back to Memphis and started working at Huey’s as a bartender, then moved into management. Two years later, he became a partner with Jay Sheffield. Huey’s was a bar then, but because of Boggs’ corporate experience with Friday’s, he saw the trend coming and began building the menu, transitioning Huey’s from a bar to a casual dining restaurant.

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Huey’s now has seven locations. We opened Huey’s Cordova in May of 1994, Huey’s Downtown opened in October 1996. Our Collierville location opened in January of 1999, Southaven in February of 2000, Huey’s Southwind opened in February 2003, and Huey’s Poplar opened in December 2003. Huey’s was also one of the first restaurants awarded the Memphis Business Journal Small Business of the Year Award. Huey’s also received many awards from various community organizations, including the Memphis City Council, The Tennessee Restaurant Association, and the Memphis Restaurant Association. Huey’s has also won the Restaurant Neighbors Award and, in addition, has been featured on the Travel Channel and The Best on Food Network.

Huey’s has also been awarded Best Burger in Memphis Magazine’s reader poll for over 27 years and Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis every year since 1990.

Huey’s has blues, brews, and the best burger in town. For over 40 years, Huey’s has had the longest continuous jazz ensemble in Memphis. Some of the finest musicians have played at Huey’s before they found fame: Robert Cray, Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, Koko Taylor, Katie Webster, Omar and the Howlers, and many more. Huey’s was also voted one of the top three music places to visit.

Perhaps the most exciting facet of Huey’s is the stucco wall and the frill pick contest. The wall is plastered with graffiti ranging from small messages in ink to large messages in lipstick. The frill picks are found with your entrée and when put into a drinking straw; they are blown up into the ceiling where they stick until the contest. Management decided to hold a contest after customers wanted to know how many were in the ceiling. The money collected is donated to the Memphis Zoological Society; to date over $37,000 has been donated. Giving back to the community is very important to Huey’s and its employees. Our employees donate hundreds of hours to various nonprofit organizations. Employees actively raise money for the Memphis Food Bank during the Feed the Need week, averaging $5,000 per year for their cause. Every year, we also donate over 50 gallons of soup to the Youth Village Soup Sunday. Huey’s donates gift cards for silent actions and fundraisers, food for many worthy causes, including the University of Memphis, Church Health Center, Christian Brothers High School, Memphis In May, St. Jude, and countless others. In 2005, Huey’s established the Huey’s Scholarship at the University of Memphis.

Mr. Boggs died in May of 2008, but his children carry on the Huey’s legacy and continue to honor the philosophy that Boggs built his business on. Lauren Boggs McHugh is President of the Company, Ashley Boggs Williams is Vice-President, and Samantha Boggs Dean is Marketing Coordinator. Alex and Fulton Boggs work during the summers while continuing their educations, and Wight Fulton Boggs designs and oversees all menu changes.

On Sunday, April 18th, Huey’s will be celebrating their 40th Anniversary with a big street party. The corners of Madison and Tucker in front of Huey’s Midtown will be blocked off. There will be live music (no cover) and great festivities. This is a family event, so please come join in the fun as the Huey’s crew says thank you, Memphis, for 40 great years of food, frills, and fun.

For more information, please contact Branden Canepa at 901-726-9693 ext. 26.

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