CARES Act Assistance Underway at MIFA

Applications for CARES Act funding through the Memphis City Council Emergency Relief Program (CERP) opened recently on our website. These applications for rent, mortgage, and utility assistance are available online only at Funding is available for Memphis residents who have experienced a layoff, reduction in hours, or workplace restriction or closure due to COVID-19.

We know the need in our community is tremendous and that the pandemic has affected income for households all over Memphis, but we have not yet seen the volume of requests we anticipated. All funds must be spent by December 31. Please help us spread the word that this funding is available.

Households may be eligible for both rent/mortgage and utility assistance. The maximum amount per assistance type is $800, so a household might qualify for $1,600 in CARES Act assistance—an amount that could go a long way in helping to stabilize a family. A cutoff or eviction notice is not required to qualify for this funding, only a current bill showing a balance due.

We want to reach as many people as we can who need this assistance. Please help us spread the word by sharing the link to our application page:

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Texting Announcement System – in Testing Mode

Text jpg

Our texting announcement plan is currently in testing mode.
to (844) 956-4138 to subscribe.
We plan to use this communication about 4 times per month. You can subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. We will use this for short messages or to tell you to check your email or the website for longer announcements from us.

2021-22 MRA Board Elections are now live!

Each membership was sent one email to cast a ballot. Voting is open through the end of day October 31, 2020.

Presidential Candidates

1 President will be elected.

Wight Boggs

Wight Boggs, Hueys

A graduate from the University of Memphis in 1980 with a BA in the College of Communications & Fine Arts, Cum Laude, I began my career as Editor of U. S. Glass Publications and its affiliate publication Architect’s Guide. I owned and operated Fulton’s Restaurant in the late 1980s.

I served as the MRA Executive Director from 1994 until 2007 and as an advisor until 2013. I helped build the membership from 100 members to 450 members, created a print and on-line Memphis Restaurant Guide, and built many community relationships with non-profits in Memphis.

I currently spend my time as an advocate for Memphis and the betterment of its community.

  • The Drug Court Foundation, Board Member
  • The Kindred Place, Board Member
  • Community Foundation, Grant Committee Member
  • Grace St. Luke’s Church Vestry Member

I have also served on the Boards of:

  • Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality
  • Memphis Area Women’s Council
  • Memphis in May International Festival
  • Memphis Restaurant Association
  • Playhouse on the Square
  • Project Green Fork
  • Tennessee Restaurant Association
  • Youth Villages
Mike Miller

Mike Miller, Patricks

  • Owner/operator of Patrick’s for over 15 years and have worked in the industry for over 35 years.
  • Past MRA President and Board member 2007-2012
  • 2015 MRA Restaurateur of the Year
  • 2019 TN State Restaurateur of the Year

As president

  • Hired our first MRA Lobbyist
  • Re-engaged with state Hospitality Assn Implemented term limits for MRA Board
  • Started MRAPAC and began working to build representation with state and local officials as well as influencing industry-related legislation

My Goals

  • Work to rebuild an inclusive membership that shares ideas, communicates, listens, and responds to member needs.
  • Continue to build MRAPAC awareness, understanding, and impact
  • Update MRA By-Laws to address structural and directional changes Build continuity for the future through clear communication, accountability, and implementation of structural expectations

Board Candidates

6 Board Members will be elected.

Shawn Danko, Kooky Canuck

I was born in Montreal Quebec Canada and started working in my uncle’s bar at the age of 12. I began working for the Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto and, over 13 years, was promoted from bouncer to Assistant GM to GM. I moved to Memphis in 2000.

My wife, Lana, and I opened Kooky Canuck in downtown Memphis in 2005. Kooky has been featured on the Irish Travel Channel, Trailer Park Boys, Gas Monkey Garage, You Gotta Eat Here on Food Network Canada, World Food Championships, Black Ink Crew; New York and was the first restaurant filmed for Man v Food in 2008. In 2014 we opened our second location in Cordova.

I have served on the board of directors for Memphis Tourism, Memphis Restaurant Association, Metro Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association, and Hospitality Tennessee.

I’m very active lobbying for the hospitality industry at the local, state, and federal levels and am the Chair of the Memphis Restaurant Association PAC.

Lynde Sumrall-Tackett, Half Shell

For as long as I can remember I have been involved in the restaurant industry. My father and late mother have been successful restauranteurs in the Memphis for the past 40 plus years.

I have always had a passion to work in the service industry. I spent a good portion of my youth working in many different roles within the restaurant industry. My father instilled the drive to learn the business from every angle. I have navigated positions from a hostess all through Management. This has given me a broad experience of all the expectations required to be successful in the industry.

If I am elected to the board I would like to implement the following ideas. 

  1. Improve communications with health Dept and other local governing bodies. 
  2. Work with the health department to safely move past current and future pandemics and stop the bleeding in the industry. 
  3. To help ensure that our industry is at the table and not on the table.

Thank you for your consideration for this position.

Eric Vernon, Bar-B-Q Shop

I am the Manager/Owner of The Bar-B-Q Shop, voted #1 ribs in America by the Food Network’s “Top Five Restaurants.” Our family-owned restaurant has been featured on one of Bobby Flay’s shows and written about in Southern Living.

I graduated from the University of Memphis and hold an MBA from there, as well. I currently serve on the Board of both Welcome to Memphis and Memphis Restaurant Association.

Malcolm Jackson, Smoothie King

A graduate of Mississippi State University, I have owned a Smoothie King since 2003 and I currently own the Riverdale location.

Marco Puerto, Cocina Mexicana

I’m the owner of Cocina Mexicana, and have been a Memphis resident since 1996. I came from Honduras at the age of 18 and always wanted to live the American dream. I’ve had many different jobs including construction and landscaping. In the hospitality industry, I worked for Pepsi and Memphis Ice Machine Company. 

In 2013 I opened my 1st restaurant, Dos Amigos on Macon Road, during which time I also worked for Cleaner Solutions. In 2017, I opened the first location of Cocina Mexicana on Millbranch Road; then in July 2020, I opened a 2nd location on Hwy 70 in Bartlett.

I have a passion for people and am dedicated to my businesses and the people around me. I value hard work and determination, knowing that quality customer service, good food, and great employees are what make a restaurant successful. Because of my different jobs in the industry, I’m very familiar with different people and businesses across the Mid-South. My wife and I live in Bartlett and have 3 kids.

Sylvia Leon

Sylvia Leon , Soccer 901

I own Soccer City 901, with my husband, Roberto on Shelby Oaks Dr. One of the goals of our business is to connect the Latinx community with other communities in Memphis.

I currently serve as the President of Latino Entrepreneurs of Memphis.

Roberto Cantu , Soccer 901

Roberto Cantu , Soccer 901

I own Soccer City 901, with my wife, Sylvia, on Shelby Oaks Dr. One of the goals of our business is to connect the Latinx community with other communities in Memphis.

Steve Voss, Huey's

Steve Voss, Huey’s

I am Steve Voss with Huey’s Restaurants. I have been Huey’s for 21 years and now hold the position of V.P. of Operations. My experience in the industry also includes working as Food Broker for Delta Foodservice, General Manager for the Cooker Bar and Grille, and bartending/serving at a few restaurants such as Houston’s, Mortimer’s, and Cuco’s Mexican Restaurant while attending the University of Memphis way back in the day.

The Restaurant business has been in my veins my whole life. I believe I inherited this passion from my grandmother Ola Voss, who was the General Manager of the Old Knickerbocker and Patterson’s Restaurant back in the ’70s.

I served on the MRA Board back in 2006 as Sergeant at Arms.

My goal is to get back involved with the MRA, continue the tradition, and help share ideas, communicate, listen, and respond to all members.

I am willing to serve and actively contribute to the best of my ability.

Terry Trim, Tops

As the recently appointed president of Tops Bar-B-Q, the iconic 67-year-old Memphis franchise, I bring more than 30 years of industry experience and a fresh perspective to my role. With an extensive background in restaurant and management experience, a successful track record in building growth and expansion, employee development, and strategic planning, I am well-prepared to serve the MRA in a new era and have exciting plans for growth.

I am a Shelby County native and alumni of the University of Memphis. I have worked with national brands including Macaroni Grill, TGI Friday’s, Bennigan’s, and Caesars Entertainment, as well as local Memphis favorites The North End and Kooky Canuck. A firm believer in giving back to his community, I have also been active with such organizations like Memphis Downtown Association, and local charities such as St. Jude, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Madonna Learning Center.

Jeff Zepatos, Arcade

Jeff Zepatos, Arcade

My family owns The Arcade in Downtown Memphis. The Arcade has the honor of being Memphis’ oldest restaurant. Speros Zepatos founded the diner in 1919 after immigrating from Cephalonia, Greece.

I graduated from Ole Miss and am the Treasurer of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. I have served on the Memphis Restaurant Association Board for 2 years.

Schuyler O’Brien, Hog Wild & A Moveable Feast Catering

I graduated from the University of Memphis and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Florida. I recently completed my Masters in Hospitality Management from the University of Memphis. I am currently a part-time Chef Instructor at Kemmons Wilson Culinary Institute.

I have worked at Capriccio Grill at The Peabody, Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, and Catherine & Mary’s, where I was sous chef. I am currently Chef de Cuisine at Hog Wild-Real Memphis Barbeque – A Moveable Feast.

I have served one year on the Memphis Restaurant Association Board. 

Shelby County Health Directive 13 – October 6

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says the new directive will be in effect at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 7.


  • Alcohol may only be served with food and to customers who are seated at a table.
  • Foodservice at a table for each customer/group should not exceed two hours.


  • All establishments shall close at 12 midnight. This means that any guests who are already receiving service at 12 midnight may remain there until 12:30 am to complete payment arrangements but may not be served food or beverages after 12 midnight. (Previously 10pm.)
  • Groups no larger than eight (8) may be allowed to enter together and act as a “family unit” so long as each group maintains a distance of six (6) feet from all other groups. (Previously 6.)


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MRA Private Facebook Group for Restaurant Members

Facebook Group
Facebook Group

We have created a MRA Private Facebook Group that is private and for restaurant members only. This came out of feedback from our members and requests for a more collaborative community.

A text alert system is almost completed.

Please let us know if you would also be interested in a GroupMe or WhatsApp group as another form of group discussion.

We envision the Facebook group as a community for restaurant owners and operators to collaborate, ask questions, and help each other out.

You must be a paid member to be in the group.

Record a Video for More Relief Now

Restaurant ACT

Expanded outdoor dining is an essential lifeline for many restaurants during the ongoing pandemic.  Our most recent survey indicates outdoor dining represents about 44% of revenue for full-service establishments currently.

But the onset of cold weather will require operators to make substantial investments in equipment or risk shutting down outdoor dining.  We are calling on local lawmakers to help restaurant operators in prolonging the outdoor dining season this fall and winter.

We’re asking YOU – restaurant operators and employees – to tell your story of how vital outdoor dining is to your restaurant. Are you worried about the impact cold weather will have on your restaurant’s ability to survive?

By telling your story, we hope to encourage local officials to replicate recent efforts seen in cities such as in the District of Columbia where Mayor Muriel Bowser has allocated $4 million in grants for outdoor dining. 

Upload a quick video HERE, on Restaurants Act.

Thank you for your continued effort on behalf of the industry.

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Thomas Boggs

Thomas Boggs

Thomas Boggs
Thomas Boggs

Thomas Boggs: A Tribute

Read more about Thomas Boggs here (Memphis Flyer article) and here (Wiki) and here (obit) and here (Memphis Daily News tribute).

Thomas Boggs, CEO of Huey’s, a partner in the Half Shell, Tsunami, and Folk’s Folly and tireless community activist, died in May 2008. He was 63.

He was a past president of the Memphis Restaurant Association and was awarded the association’s highest honor, the Newt Hardin Award for outstanding service.

Boggs was known for his civic contributions: board member and former president of the Memphis Zoological Society; advisory board member of the Memphis Food Bank; Chairman and board member of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau; and chairman and board member of Memphis In May.

We honor him annually by remembering his legacy at our golf tournament. You can sign up for the 2020 golf tournament here.

Free webinars


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Courtesy of Menus4All

Monday, May 11 at 4pm
Learn all about contactless menus (menus that diners can view on their phone).
Register here.

Courtesy of US Foods

All of USF’s previously recorded webinars are here! Watch on-demand!

View upcoming webinars here.

Courtesy of Sysco

All of SYSCO’s previously recorded webinars are here! Watch on-demand!

View upcoming webinars here.

Courtesy of Memphis Business Journal

Straight Talk: A series on how businesses are navigating the unknown and adjusting operations to survive
Chuck Pinkowski, owner, Pinkowski & Company
Wayne Tabor, president & CEO, Metropolitan Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association
McLean Wilson, principal, Kemmons Wilson Companies

US Foods
Recording from May 3 here

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