A popular Memphis landmark is celebrating 70 years in business. The Rendezvous, a popular tourist attraction in downtown Memphis, is known for its dry rub ribs and friendly staff.
When people visit Memphis, they make stops at Graceland, The Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street, and of course, the Rendezvous.
Many employees have worked at the Rendezvous for 30 years, some even 50 years. They say it’s an addictive atmosphere and a great place to work. Everybody is treated like family at the Rendezvous.
“48 smoky years,” said Percy Norris. “I didn’t expect to stay here that long.”
Norris is famous in his own right. He’s one of three employees who worked at the Rendezvous for nearly 50 years.
He’s retired, but he’s a part of the restaurant’s 70th anniversary celebration.
“Retirement is just a word but the Rendezvous will always be a part of me,” said Norris.
Norris started out as a bartender making $3 a night. He put a son through college and traveled for the restaurant, including trips to Air Force One feeding past Presidents Rendezvous ribs.
“Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama. I’ve done ‘em all. Al Gore,” said Norris.
“Percy has been our favorite waiter until he quit waiting tables. Now Calvin has taken over as our all-time favorite,” said customer Marianne Cupples.
Cupples has been coming to the Rendezvous since she was a little girl.
“My dad started bringing us to the Rendezvous when we were children,” she said. “He would bring his farm clients over.”
She and her husband Bobby eat at the Rendezvous two to three times every month.
“You can’t ask for nothing no better. The atmosphere is fantastic,” said Bobby Cupples.
The Cupples say the food is phenomenal but employees like Percy Norris complete the trip here.
“When you walk in and they call you by name and say hey we’re glad to see you. You know you can’t beat that. There aren’t many places like that today,” said Marianne Cupples.
Charlie Vergos started it all 70 years ago, selling ham sandwiches and beer in a basement in an alley across from the Peabody Hotel.
His three kids have kept it going and helped it grow into what it is today.
“When my dad started it was just a business to take care of his family. We really never, you always hope and dream that you’re gonna be successful, but we never really thought that we would feed the number of people and be in business. You know Memphis has been very nice to us. We are very fortunate,” said owner John Vergos.