Memphis at the Santora, Pioneering Downtown Santa Ana Restaurant, to Close Next Month :-(

Categories: Indigestion

Thumbnail image for memphis1.jpg
The rumors are true: Memphis at the Santora--the downtown SanTana restaurant that was a pioneer in turning OC's county seat into a hipster mecca upon its opening in 2001, which helped to spur OC's cocktail revolution, which fed multiple generations of Weeklings, won more Best Of awards than I can remember, and which served as my watering hole--is closing sometime in February.

WHAT?!

Whenever someone eventually does the history of OC restaurants, Memphis will be up there, not just for what it offered but what it represented for a segment of Orange County during the 2000s. It was a place where cuisine could be something more that greasefests or Newport Beach's hoity toity bullshit. It was a bar that hired talents that went on to bigger and better places (Dave Mau, Johnny Sampson, our own LP Hastings). Along with its fellow Costa Mesa restaurant, The Gypsy Den, Memphis set its flag in downtown SanTana far before the plethora of places--and it's that plethora that chipped away at its business, slowly but surely.

The Memphis Group, the lads who also own the original Memphis Cafe in Costa Mesa (which will stay open) and the Tin Lizzie, aren't done unloading properties. They're also selling off their just-as-iconic Detroit Bar, as equally a WTF?! moment--but you'll have to wait for our Heard Mentality cabrones to post their thoughts on that.

I could have a much-more eloquent eulogy for Memphis at the Santora, but I plead conflict of interest--after all, the place owns my liver. In the meanwhile, check out our 2005 cover story on the Memphis Group, a copy of which continues to hang at Memphis at the Santora. And this line sums it best: "If the mark of any institution is the hole its absence would leave, then it's not only difficult but frightening to picture life--specifically nightlife--without Memphis."

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72 comments
ChittyChittyBang2
ChittyChittyBang2

Their food was ok, but too pricey.


Hated the music and the DJ was a total grandpa, always looked super greasy & completely stoned - pathetic.

Stina Marie
Stina Marie

I saw this the other day! I asked my gpa about it and he didn't no anything.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

They should keep this one and close the one in Costa Mesa instead, which is terrible.

attentiontodetail.20
attentiontodetail.20

It's like a family friend is passing away.

I will make sure to celebrate and get our kicks in before they burn it down.

magicvilas
magicvilas

Bummer...

I used to sit and cocktail while my kid was performing her play at OCSA (after I had already seen it 40 times)

Why is it closing? I didn't see any reason listed.

hiramj66
hiramj66

Hipsters? More like Hitlers, trying to unmexify the place, I'm not telling people to get

Out , just be more humble and smile once in a while , to everybody , not just to white people , ya dicks

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

Never been but I'm from the south and figured this place was doomed. I looked at their menu online and it seemed overpriced. Southern food's appeal is that it's cheap. Also hipsters are the death of any establishment. Noone want's to deal with their smarmy attitudes and listen to crappy independent music when they're trying to enjoy their meatloaf and collard greens.

hiramj66
hiramj66

Not surprised , also the Dead pan(asshole) attitude of the manager/ CEO Dan Bradley and how he treated his employees and die hard patrons does not surprise me either, it couldn't compete with proof or the Crosby drink specials , time for new management and. Prices folks , quicker drink service , at half the cost , just saying , it's either that or ampm a block away , screw your wanna be. Hipster attitude

Nora Gonzales
Nora Gonzales

Jeremy Perez - Don't worry. Playground will lease that spot too.

Steve Manciet
Steve Manciet

It never really worked out down there in SA its still not a nice place to go.........

aladinsane1969
aladinsane1969

This sucks. While the food and service have gotten a bit dicey over the last couple of years, the bar has remained incredibly consistent. Jefferson is a mixocological genius, and I've always dug the DJ (sorry I don't know your name, Dude, but you've done me right for many moons) and the vibe there as well. I shall miss thee, MATS. :-( 

Jim Thornburg
Jim Thornburg

I ate there once. The food was good I think, what I remember was that the tap water was the most disgusting I've ever had. I think they got their water from a well in the back or something. Bleh.

Michael Melzer
Michael Melzer

If you haven't already go before you can't anymore and get the Cobra Chicken Sammie it's too good not too

Amy Lynn Estrada
Amy Lynn Estrada

This is depressing. My husband Vince and I got married at the old court house then jumped over here and got drunk with out families to celebrate.

René Bruce
René Bruce

Bummer, but I just go next door to the Lola Gaspar better food etc in my opinion !

Phuong Ngo
Phuong Ngo

Nooo! Where am I going to get my craft bourbon/whiskey cocktails?! I think I just cried a little :(

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

@vegandawg23 Hipsters?  Not, and they would not be the death of it.  They are a huge part along with people who enjoy great food in a cool restaruant what keeps the restaurants in business and racking up so many 'best of' awards year after year.  Look it up-the restaurants in Downtown are doing very well and their multiple recognitions in the various food review publications prove me right.  Hipsters.  Get over it.


dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

@hiramj66 Stay out of Downtown then.  Your phony story can be shared with your roommates as you stand in line at 7-11 to buy your Keystone beer and pork skins.  


dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Nope! Already leased to a local couple that owns two restaurants in Mexico. High end Mexican restaurant will be moving in! Article was in OC Register.

media32
media32

You are 1,000% incorrect.

media32
media32

If they did get their water from the tap, it is fact that Santa Ana has the best tasting water. Do your research.

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