By The Brewery Cafe Hits The Spot Downtown

A new cafe, perfect for first breakfast, second breakfast, and elevenses.

For more than 30 years, Robin Joyce’s A Catered Affair catering company has provided special meals for local events, parties, weddings, and dinners. And for all this time, she’s had a dream to open a cafe. 

“My mom has always wanted a restaurant, since I was little,” explains her daughter Hannah. The upside of less catering events during 2020 meant Robin and her family had more time to focus on developing the restaurant’s menu and space—directly across from the Tennessee Brewery. They took the chance to make Robin’s dream come true. 

exterior of cafe, red brick with large windows, a few planters and two tables for patio seating
Holly Whitfield

By The Brewery opened its doors on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. They serve breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday. Breakfast will start at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, then the menu will change over to lunch around, well, lunchtime. They’ll be open until 2 p.m. 

I stopped by for a tasting last week with my coworkers, and we were entirely charmed by the space and delighted by the food, which seems to fill several niches that the South Main / Tennessee Brewery area is missing.

Also, there’s an Oreo-stuffed brownie that was sent directly from heaven for our sweet-toothed dining pleasure. More on the food in a bit.

By The Brewery Grain Bowl Interior
Alex Shansky

Robin had always wanted breakfast and lunch cafe, with Southern favorites like chicken biscuits plus staples of Jewish cuisine that she’s known for in her catering business, like matzo ball soup.

As for the location, she’s even had historic blueprints of the Tennessee Brewery hanging in her dining room for years, according to the restaurant’s manager-at-large Edd Scherrey. Now the plans hang on the tiled wall behind the coffee station, which serves  exclusive J. Brooks roasts—Big River Roast and Downtown Decaf—in big cozy white mugs. A mural by New Orleans artist Sarah Pearl Cooper adorns another wall, and the wall facing Tennessee Street is mostly windows. Perfect for people-watching and getting some natural light.

By The Brewery Grain Bowl Spread
Alex Shansky

By The Brewery Menu

The start of the menu, Hannah explains, is the biscuit sandwiches. Of course there’s the chicken biscuit, but there’s also a vegetarian version made with a crispy fried gouda grits cake. Another dish that’s sure to be a hit is the lunch menu’s Avocado Toasted, which is an “egg-in-the-hole” sandwich with spinach, mozzarella, and mashed avocado.

By The Brewery Grain Bowl
Alex Shansky
Cuban Grain Bowl from By The Brewery

There are salads and soup specials, too. “They’re very hearty, very filling salads. There’s nothing I hate more than a skimpy salad,” Hannah says. I agree. It’s nice to have healthy options, especially in the South Main neighborhood. I tried the Cuban Grain Bowl, which was so healthy and delicious that I’m pretty sure increased my life expectancy. 

By The Brewery Grain Bowl Pastrami
Alex Shansky
The New Yorker sandwich

As for the aforementioned Jewish deli staples, we tried the New Yorker (pastrami on rye), the Reuben, and matzo ball soup. All of them were amazing, especially the soup. My colleague Leah said “It tastes just as good as bubbe’s”. High praise, indeed. 

As promised, the Oreo-stuff brownie. Trust me, you want this:

brownie stuffed with an oreo with cookie and cream filling visible
Holly Whitfield
behold its glory

You can see the full menus here.

Brunch, Patio, and Drinks at By The Brewery

  • They haven’t decided if they will be BYOB or have limited beverages (mimosas and Bloody Marys). They won’t have a full bar.
  • Their regular menu is already brunch appropriate, but they may have specials sometimes on weekends for the brunch crowd. 
  • There’s a grab-and-go cooler with salads and sandwiches for takeout, or you can order to-go. They’ll add online ordering eventually, but won’t have it on opening day. 
  • By The Brewery will also have a few goods for purchase, like J. Brooks ground coffee, Raw Girls pressed juices, house made pickles "not-too-sweet, not-too-spicy", Hannah says), Sweet Miranda jam, and Toby Jo Candle Co candles in scents like “buttered biscuits” and “caramel macchiato”.
  • They have a few tables outside for patio seating. 
  • By The Brewery loves dogs! Tennessee law prevents non-service animals from hanging out inside, but dogs are welcome on the patio and owners are welcome to stop by and grab a dog treat.
By The Brewery Hours (subject to change): 

Tuesday - Friday, breakfast 7 a.m. - tbd; lunch tbd until 2 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday, breakfast 8 a.m. - tbd; lunch tbd until 2 p.m.

There are several vegetarian items, and it looks like several that could be made vegan with minor substitutions. Call ahead to confirm.

As for me, I've been Instagram stalking this restaurant for almost a year and I'm happy to say with what I've tried, it exceeds expectations. (Sorry for messaging you every five minutes to ask for your opening date, Hannah!) I also like that they hosted free tastings for their neighborhood last week. The owners plan to host special tastings or art events or some kind of fun stuff in the evenings, too, but first things first: first breakfast.

By The Brewery Grain Bowl Spread
Alex Shansky
Go There: 

By The Brewery
496 Tennessee Street, Suite. 1 (on the corner)
Memphis, Tenn. 38103

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About the Author

I’m Holly Whitfield! I'm the editor of the I Love Memphis Blog. I love Memphis with a passion, and I'm determined to share that love with the world. 

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