Lost Memphis: Ray Gammon's Restaurant

I don't mind giving away a secret here: Sometimes yearbooks can be good sources for photographs of long-gone landmarks.

Case in point: Ray Gammon's Restaurant, a popular Memphis eatery for some 25 years. I had known about this establishment for a long time, but had never located a halfway-decent photograph of it until I was leafing through a 1960s yearbook from Southwestern at Memphis (better known today, of course, as Rhodes College) and discovered the photo you see here.

No, I have no idea who all those people are. Get down from the roof, you crazy college kids!

As you can probably tell, it was a rather nondescript — even rustic-looking — two-story brick and wooden place with a big neon sign across the front. Before Gammon moved in, the old building at 3774 Summer had housed an eatery called the Wright Diner and, later, Grisanti's Cafe.

Gammon's served heapin' helpings of catfish, steaks, chicken, "pit-cooked" barbecue, and all sorts of home-cooked meals, and was quite a hangout for students and their families.

Gammon himself was an interesting fellow, well-known around town since he was the former golf pro at Galloway, Cherokee, and the old Alicia golf courses here. At one time, he also operated The Pit, a very popular drive-in at Poplar and Hollywood. Sometime in the early 1950s, he opened Ray Gammon's on Summer, close to Hollywood, running it until poor health forced him to retire in the 1970s.

Gammon died in 1975, and the restaurant closed soon afterwards, I believe. The site is now a Family Dollar store.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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