A Piece of Memphis History, Hit Hard By COVID-19, Gets Assistance From EDGE

The Four Way Business Owner

The Four Way Restaurant was an important gathering spot throughout the civil rights era


Memphis, Tenn. (June 26, 2020) – Of the 10 businesses that received assistance from EDGE this week, three have been staples in their communities for more than 30 years, including one that has been a go-to for three quarters of a century. 

The Four Way is one of the most iconic restaurants in Memphis. The food has a place in Memphians’ hearts and the restaurant itself has an important place in this city’s history.

Irene and Clint Cleaves opened the Four Way Grill in 1946. The restaurant was an important gathering spot throughout the civil rights era. It was successful for many years, closing in 1996. Today the restaurant is owned by Patrice Thompson, whose father bought it in 2001 with the dream of continuing its legacy. 

“Since COVID-19, we have gone from 27 down to eight employees and we are only open on Fridays right now. We attempted to serve dine in customers with six feet of social distancing, but it was not profitable at all.”

Since having to close the dining room, the restaurant has not been able to pay its suppliers and other bills. The Four Way is working on prepay ordering with curbside pick up and allowing limited dine-in options. The restaurant has also been busy delivering meals to seniors throughout the area.

“This grant means a lot. I couldn't even pay the few employees I have right now. This will help us to pay those employees and our current debt, as well as purchase supplies and safety equipment like plexiglass,” said Thompson. 

Other businesses approved for a NEED Grant today were:

To date, the Committee has awarded $496,000 to 88 businesses throughout Memphis's most vulnerable neighborhoods; 68 of those (77%) are minority and women-owned businesses. 

The Neighborhood Emergency Economic Development (NEED) Grant was created to provide relief to small businesses, located in Memphis’ most vulnerable neighborhoods that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Eligible businesses can apply and find more information at NEEDGrant.org.

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