They say the location is cursed, but Chef Josh Steiner is not scared! His restaurant, Strano Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, is one of Memphis’ newest hot spots. This Sicilian-style restaurant with a Deep South twist opened in spring 2014, and Chef Josh has already busted any ghosts who may have cursed the half-dozen restaurants that have opened and closed in this location over the last five years. We stopped by to find out how he and his staff are reversing the curse of this Cooper Young restaurant.
Welcome, Chef Josh!
Tell us a bit about Strano.
We are committed to serving the very best local and organic products available. Everything is made fresh daily, in-house, and we feel that this is something our diners appreciate about Strano. You can taste the freshness in our local ingredient-driven salads. The Sicilian/Mediterranean flavors are much more intense and honest than those made from prepackaged lettuces and sauces, for example. You get real food from Strano, as if you were at my Grandma’s table, but with a special artistic twist or interpretation by me.
What are your key strategies for reversing the location curse?
We offer the comfort food that one expects from a Sicilian kitchen, as well as dishes that excite the palate of our more adventurous diners who are looking for inventive, unique menu options. We also strive to surpass the diners’ expectations for service. The food can be the best in the city, but if the expectations for service are not at least met, then the diner will probably not come back. We have hired and trained a wait staff capable of creating this ultimate, complete dining experience.
Has anyone famous come through your doors?
We have had many famous Memphis entertainment and sports celebrities and politicians, as well as local famous chefs come eat at Strano, but the couples and families from our neighborhood are certainly just as special to us.
Do you offer space for special events?
We are honored when diners choose to celebrate their anniversaries, birthdays, wine tastings, foodie clubs and other special occasions with us, and a few wedding proposals have taken place in our dining room, too! We can create a private area in the dining room, and when customers let us know about their special occasion, we are very conscientious about providing the atmosphere.
Strano can also bring the event to you with customized catering for breakfast, lunch or dinner and free delivery for orders over $100. Just call and ask to speak with our manager, Kurt Russel, regarding catering and event planning. We are dedicated to producing a wide range beautiful and personalized events. The holiday season is here so reserve dates for your special occasions now; they are going quickly!
Are there any structural changes you have made to update and enhance this location?
While the location is notably convenient and comfortable, we wanted to be sure our customers enjoy the local charm of our neighborhood. For example, we have built a “people watcher” sitting bar in the west patio area, so our customers can enjoy the Cooper Young action.
Congratulations! You have already received a couple of awards, correct?
Yes, Open Table has voted us as a Top 10 restaurant in Memphis because of our excellent reviews, and Memphis magazine selected our carrot cake as one of the Top 10 Best Foods in Memphis.
Tell us a little more about your menu.
As the summer garden starts to diminish, we are excited about our organic fall garden in Germantown. We are growing a variety of lettuces, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, onions and Brussels sprouts. Our new fall menu rolls out this week, highlighting the fresh Strano Garden fall produce.
What are the current hours at Strano?
We originally planned to open only Tuesday through Saturday, but we had great demand to also be open on Sunday. So we now are open on Sunday, as well. [Strano is open for lunch and dinner.]
What’s next on your ghost-busting strategy list at Strano?
We are very excited about introducing our weekend brunch. Cooper Young is an ideal spot for weekend breakfast. Also, we have just introduced online ordering. The orders online have been mainly from customers who want to pick up pizzas and salads to eat at home. It is catching on nicely, and it is an efficient way to pick up your food and have your at-home meal ready in a hurry. Strano gift cards are also available!
Halloween week is a great benchmark for Strano because you appear to have removed any “ghosts” that may have haunted this storied location. Are there any Halloween-themed happenings this week?
On Friday, Oct. 31, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., customers are invited to dress in their favorite Halloween costumes (no masks, please!) and meet in the cozy Strano bar for special treats. We are offering half-off pizza and happy hour all day, with $3 pints and $4 cocktails. We are also creating specialty Halloween cocktails and desserts!
Thank you, Chef Josh, our local restaurateur/ghostbuster in Cooper Young!
Today’s images are courtesy of Strano.
Connect with SB Memphis.
Daily emails arrive at 5 a.m.