Pat O'Brien's closes; Cooper and Lawler plan hotel in its place - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Pat O'Brien's closes; Cooper and Lawler plan hotel in its place

As doors close for the final time at Pat O'Brien's in Downtown Memphis, an investment group is already submitting a proposal to purchase the establishment's building and open Beale Street's first hotel in its place.

"I hate that Memphis is going to loose it," said customer Cathy Fields. "It's a nice place to come hang out."

After six years, Beale Steet fixture Pat O'Brien's is closing for good. A manager said business had declined because of the current economic climate.

Fields says the New Orleans style bar and restaurant, known for it's flaming fountain and "hurricane" cocktails, is her favorite spot in Memphis. "You go in there and it just feels like a local neighborhood place."

Pat O'Brien's is Mandy Pennington's favorite stop, too, whenever she visits from Norfolk, Virginia. "It's always one of the things I look forward to visiting when I come to Memphis."

If two recognizable entrepreneurs get their way, 310 Beale Street will still be a favorite for tourists, only in a different way.

Joe Cooper, who recently made headlines for acting as an FBI operative in the Edmund Ford corruption case, has created an investment group that wants to buy the property to transform it into hotel and restaurant.

"The main thing is to bring tourists to spend money on Beale Street in Memphis, and it would create a lot of jobs," said Cooper.

Cooper envisions a five-story hotel with about 80 rooms, all suites.

"We envision it maybe having the balconies like Bourbon Street, out overlooking the street," said Cooper.

Cooper's investment partner is famed wrestler Jerry "The King" Lawler.

"It's a city full of kings, and I think there's room for one more king on Beale Street," said Lawler.

If the offer is accepted, Cooper hopes to have the restaurant open as early as May.

On Saturday night, folks on Beale were simply trying to enjoy their last bittersweet night at Pat O'Brien's before doors closed for good at 3:00 a.m. Sunday.


Click here to e-mail Lori Brown.

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