Quality food to go, local brands in the center of the 2nd grocery store downtown

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – There will be more grocery options for people who work and live in downtown Memphis.

Next month, Big River Market will open on the corner of Tennessee and GE Patterson inside the historic Emerge Memphis building.

This comes just months after the opening of South Point Grocery a few blocks away on Webster Avenue in the South Main Arts District.

“Just a year ago there were no grocery stores, and now we have two, and I’m sure there will be more in the future,” said Nick Barbian, owner of Big River Market.

Nick Barbian, owner of Big River Market

Nick Barbian has only been in Memphis since 2019 and calls the boutique market his pandemic project.

“I’ve done a lot of music throughout my career, and there wasn’t a lot of music in 2020,” he said.

Barbian, who has worked as a music promoter in Memphis and Austin, Texas, said Big River Market is modeled after the Royal Blue Grocery in Austin.

“It was synonymous with quality, healthy food and options in Austin that you couldn’t find late at night downtown,” Barbian said. “It looked like it would fit in very well with the neighborhood”

Barbian said the 2,200-square-foot market will offer quality food to go, like panini sandwiches, Bain Barbecue and coffee. He said a section of the store would also be dedicated to cheese and wine, and they would carry many grocery staples.

“We will have fresh canned products. The basics of what you would see in a supermarket, but maybe not the full line of twenty peanut butter items,” Barbian said. “We’re definitely on the convenience side of things.”

Barbian said he also plans to focus on locally and regionally made products.

“Especially food entrepreneurs, independents, any type of artisanal or local products. Something really interesting and maybe outside the norm,” Barbian said.

Barbian received a $60,000 grant from the Downtown Memphis Commission to help pay for the $120,000 project. UrbanArch helped design the store.

Barbian lives nearby in the South Bluffs neighborhood and thinks his little corner store will complement what’s already happening in South Main.

“It was really designed for me, but it turned out that my neighbors and friends were looking for the same thing,” he said.

Big River will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. on weekdays and will remain open until midnight on weekends.

David H. Henry