The guest blogging continues! Thanks to Andria for demystifying a little slice of East Memphis.
5885 Ridgeway Center Parkway
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I do, sort of, work for Lisa’s Lunchbox. I discovered the restaurant a year ago, just after starting a new job in East Memphis. My biggest concern about my office location was that I wouldn’t be able to walk anywhere for lunch. During my first week, I pulled up a Google map of my work address and searched for “restaurants,” just to see what was closest. I was shocked and thrilled to see a listing that was just across the (shortest crosswalk-light ever) road, so I walked over.
What I found inside a non-descript, un-signaged office building was a little lunchtime oasis. With a staff of three – Lisa Clay, Lauren Gray and Laura Leike – the converted office space held an open kitchen, seating for about 30, and most importantly for me, a non-stop stream of friendly chatter. Still feeling awkward and unfamiliar in my new job, I entered a place where I instantly felt welcome. They took my name the first time I ordered, and when I came back a couple days later, they remembered it. Oh, and the food? It was really, really good. I was hooked.
So hooked, in fact, that when I couldn’t find their menu online to show a friend, I offered to create and keep up their website on a contract basis (the terms of our agreement are complex, but I can tell you that they involve at least one chocolate-peanut butter chess bar a month). But I swear to you that this review is not just another online marketing effort. Hey, did I mention the delicious chess bars? And that Laura is now managing their second location, conveniently located at 775 Ridge Lake Blvd?
So anyway, where were we? Ah yes, summer break. Miss M was home at the Compound while I was at work, so one day, Kristy generously and ingeniously offered to bring her over to my office so we could have a mother-daughter lunch. Although Lisa’s is frequented almost exclusively by the corporate crowd, I thought almost-6-year-old Miss M could handle herself well enough to get us through the meal without any askance glances.
I deliberately picked a post-rush lunchtime of 12:45, and most of the executives were heading back to their lairs as we came in. Lauren immediately asked Miss M’s name and said they’d be happy to make anything she wanted. This may sound like an extra accommodation for the company webslinger, but they offer the same service to every customer. If they have the parts to put it together, they’ll make it. Miss M’s tastes are pretty simple, though, so she went for a basic grilled cheese and I got my usual Baby Blues salad, which is a huge spinach salad loaded with grilled chicken, strawberries, oranges, bleu cheese, and seasoned pecans that I would happily eat all by themselves. I let Miss M pick the table, so of course we ended up at the one with the Spongebob Squarepants lunchbox.
After drinking most of the giant bottle of orange juice she picked from the drink cooler, Miss M wasn’t all that hungry when her panini-pressed grilled cheese came out. While she was checking out the room, however, she noticed the big stack of home-made sweets on the counter and started asking for cake. While I’d hoped we’d have some time to discuss the urgent issues of the day – the mayor’s resignation, health care reform, the nihilist vs. existentialist struggle displayed in the story arc of High School Musicals 1-3 – once she saw the dessert pile, there was really nothing to talk about except whether she could have some cake and how much real food she would have to eat in order to do so.
Because it was a special occasion, and because I didn’t want my eldest child to make a huge off-putting scene around people who regularly touch my food, I acquiesced after she ate one half of her grilled cheese. Okay, really, Lisa told her to help herself, but I’d already decided it was okay! As I expected, Miss M was able to eat about two bites of the giant treat (it was actually a big gooey brownie, not cake) before saying she was full, so we packed up the other half of her sandwich and 7/8ths of her dessert and headed on our way. (As evidence of how big the salads are, I offer Exhibit A: brownie leftovers.)
All in all, we had a delicious and mostly-pleasant lunch, and the ladies at Lisa’s did everything to make us happy, but I do feel the need to make a monkey caveat. When you walk into Lisa’s Lunchbox, you won’t see any high chairs or booster seats. You won’t see a changing table in the bathroom; in fact, there is no bathroom, not unless you go out into the office building itself. So although I won’t say it’s a kid-unfriendly place (the jars of free candy on the counter exist specifically to lure orthodontia patients), it certainly isn’t designed for children, especially small ones. I’ve been there with my baby and with my big kid, and felt welcome both times, but I also was a little wary of the suited masses and how they might feel if a sticky face passed too closely by their tables. If this doesn’t worry you, or you happen to be one of those masses yourself, dig out the Google map and come on over.