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Arcade Restaurant – The Oldest Cafe in Town! Memphis, TN

Posted on: June 22, 2011

As I mentioned during our visit to the Silver Skillet in Atlanta GA, the presence of authentic “boomerang” formica usually means a good meal awaits – as was the case with our breakfast at the Arcade Restaurant in Memphis, TN.

Arcade Restaurant Boomerang Formica(a silly smiling girl in the background doesn’t hurt either!)

Open since 1919 The Arcade is Memphis’ oldest continually operating cafe.

Arcade Restaurant Entrance Memphis TN

Still family owned and third generation operated, the business was remodeled in  1925 as the Arcade Building in a Greek revival style, complete with retail stores – hence  the “Arcade” name. Arcade Restaurant Memphis TN

The version of the restaurant you see today is the results of another remodeling that occurred in the 1950’s. The restaurant was in its heyday at that point, with a bustling community and a steady stream of traffic- both in vehicle form on the streets as well as customers disembarking from the trains at the Memphis Central Station train depot just across the street.
Arcade Restaurant Vintage Memphis Scene
With the decline of passenger rail service in the 1960’s and the exodus of businesses the entire area became a ghost town, but the Arcade still managed to hang on. Now on the National Register of Historic places, the area where the Arcade is is experiencing a renaissance as the South Main Street Historic District. And what could be more historic than actual trolley cars clacking down the tracks right outside the Arcade? Totally like you stepped back in time to see them go by the window as you sit and sip your coffee.

We walked in and were promptly seated in the main area of the restaurant, near the diner-like counter, but there’s an additional room for larger groups as well.

Arcade Restaurant Annex

It was breakfast time so RetroRoadhusband ordered a platter with an omelet, biscuits, hash browns and more. Trying to keep my girlish figure I opted for a dainty breakfast sandwich. Totally hit the spot.

Arcade Restaurant Breakfast

The place was abuzz with customers, locals and vacationers like ourselves.

Arcade Restaurant Customers

In looking at my photos I realized I didn’t get a really good shot of the entire interior, with it’s royal blue ceiling, well worn counters and wrought iron dividers. However, an easy Google Image Search for The Arcade Restaurant in Memphis, TN reveals some shots of the interior, as well as what other folks have dined on there.
View Behind The Counter Arcade Restaurant Memphis TN

Scenes from a number of movies have been shot at The Arcade including Mystery Train, Great Balls of Fire, The Client, The Firm, 21 Grams, Elizabethtown, Walk the Line, and My Blueberry Nights. Because of it’s place in movie history, Pop Pilgrims “A Travel Show For The Pop Culture Enthusiast” from the Onion A.V. Club. Click here to watch the Pop Pilgrim’s take on Memphis: Arcade Restaurant – Set of Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train.

So if you’re in the Memphis area for any reason, grab a slice of culinary history at The Arcade.