Monday, 24 June 2013

A 1950s colour palette
in Memphis

Just been trying to file the rest of my holiday photos from the epic US road trip we did last month. The filing has been as epic as the trip, as I'd just bought a new camera – new toy and all that. 

Anyway, just came across the photos of the 1950s interior at a cafe we went to in Memphis. The Arcade Cafe is the oldest in the city, so the menu informed us (relatively modern by British standards, it was built in 1919). And seeing the images again, the colour palette really struck me as very lovely.




All that sludgy mustard and terracotta, shot through with worn-in turquoise: it's very retro but not in a shouty way. And the colours aren't a combination I'd naturally have put together – the more obvious 50s nod would probably include yellower yellows, and the terracotta is a surprise. But it's a marvellous mix, don't you think?

And that's probably because the interior features the original 1950s decor, as installed by Harry Zepatos – relative of the current owners and son of the founder, Speros Zepatos  (yes, Elvis was once a regular). Speros refurbed the place drastically six years after acquiring it as a low-rise wooden building, rebuilding and decorating it in his 1925 version of "Greek Revival Style". (I'd have loved to have seen that, sounds insane.)
 
When Speros' son took over, Harry gave the 1920s architecture and stylings the mid-century update that remains today, under the care of third-generation Zepatos, Harry and Karan. I like that they didn't obliterate the previous decorative incarnation entirely – a few details, such as the metalwork you can see below, remain in situ.


Arcade's exterior: the neon signage is the original 1950s stuff.

The Arcade's cinematic claims to fame.

Yep, we gained some hearty holiday weight on our trip (and amazingly, not solely from this meal).

If you recognise the cafe, you might have seen it in films including Great Balls of Fire, Walk the Line and 21 Grams.

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