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STREETSEEN  | Suhair “Sue” Lauck

Photo by Steve Roberts

Suhair “Sue” Lauck: Owner of The Little Tea Shop

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Suhair “Sue” Lauck's path to her place in Downtown Memphis began on the western bank of Jordan in what is now known as Palestine. That is where her cooking experience began. Growing up, Sue said that her parents and her grandparents were all good cooks

“We lived to eat,” said Sue. “But I’m a cook, not a chef. I didn’t go to culinary school and earn that title. In fact, I went to school to be a fashion designer, but I always loved cooking.”

Sue came to Memphis, in 1967 when she married a man from the Bluff City.

“Hallelujah — In 1967 I became an American, and a Memphian,” exclaimed Sue. 

True to her training, Sue’s first job in Memphis was doing alterations for the Frances Wright dress shop on Union. Later Sue decided to go back to Palestine. When she returned to Memphis she was asked if she would help out a day or two a week at La Baguette. She did that for five years. Along the way she divorced in the mid-1970s, then met James Lauck at La Baguette. He came in to purchase some pastries for a meeting. The couple married seven years after first meeting. When the building that housed the Little Tea shop went up for sale, James purchased it. James asked Sue if she had any interest in running it for him. In July 1982, and she became the cook and the manager.

“Since July 1, 1982, we have owned The Little Tea Shop at 69 Monroe,” explained Sue. “I’m the cook, the hostess and the cashier (but my best title is grandmother). We’re open five days a week, Monday - Friday, for lunch. We do what we do best — healthy, home-style cooking, with special entrees every day, vegetables, salads and desserts. Our top-selling dish is turnip greens, and we’re known for our peach and apple cobblers, and our frozen pecan balls.”

Something else that stands out about Sue’s cooking are the spices that she uses. 

“When I started cooking at The Little Tea Shop, all they used were salt, pepper and paprika. I changed the way they cooked, but I tried to be smart and not make changes immediately. I let my style evolve and won people over with my healthy dishes that had great flavor. I have so many spices in my kitchen and like to use them freshly ground. I use herbs like mint, parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and spices like cumin and cardamon. Oddly enough, I love to use coriander, but can’t stand cilantro.” 

As for her clientele, Sue’s restaurant is filled daily with a “Who’s Who of Memphis.” 

“This is the place for a power lunch in Downtown,” said Sue. “Bankers, lawyers, judges, and people from the cotton industry sit in the same room with well-known individuals from the Memphis music scene and sports icons. Some of those folks eat with me every day.”

“But, I have seen ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,’ since opening in 1982. There was a time when we were the only restaurant on the block. The next closest eatery was The Rendezvous, then Bon Ton moved in. Before that, it could be kind of scary opening in the early morning.”

Sue has not only worked Downtown for almost the last four decades, she has also been a resident since 1987, living above her restaurant.

“The best thing that has ever happened since I’ve been living Downtown is that young people are moving back into the area,” said Sue. “With the old Post Office converted to the University of Memphis Law School, there are people here all the time. It really is a case of ‘the more the merrier.’  I love living Downtown. I feel very safe and can walk to my doctor, my dentist and a pharmacy. There’s also a park nearby, and a number of sports teams, as well as fabulous entertainment options at The Orpheum and The Cannon Center. Everything is so convenient that I sold my car last year and only leave Downtown once a week to shop at a large grocery store.” 


STREETSEEN | Charvey mac

Photo by Steve Roberts

Charvey Mac: A One-Man Band

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Born in Chicago, Charvey Mac grew up in Joliet, Illinois. He said his interest in music started when he was 7 years old.

“During the summer, I would go to a YMCA Day Camp,” said Charvey. “There was old piano in one of the recreation rooms. One day, my mother stopped by the camp and she started playing, “Bobcat Boogie.” That made me want to play, too. She taught me the classic duet, “Heart and Soul” — and I was hooked. When I was 8, I asked for a piano for Christmas. I took lessons from the organist at our church and stayed with it until we moved to Memphis.”

The family’s move occurred when Charvey was 14 years old. His interest in performing music held constant and he started to expand into playing other instruments.

“My mother’s college roommate gave her a guitar to pass along to me,” explained Charvey. “It stayed on top of our china cabinet until I was ready to give it a try. I started trying to teach myself how to play, but soon realized that I needed lessons. I met Theo Reed at Advent Presbyterian and he gave me a few lessons. Once I mastered the basic fingering and the frets, I went on to take a series of lessons at Lane Music. Ultimately I became a member of the Praise and Worship Band at Advent Presbyterian.”

At age 15, Charvey tried to learn songs by musicians that he heard on the radio, such as the Dave Matthews Band and Nirvana. He also tried to form a few bands with friends. It was during those jam sessions that Charvey realized that he truly loved performing. As the years went by, Charvey attended Christian Brothers High School and then started college at Christian Brothers University.

“I went to CBU for a year, then transferred to the University of Memphis to study music performance,” recalled Charvey. “I concentrated on playing guitar and piano. But ultimately, I got my undergraduate degree in computer network engineering from Southeast College of Technology (now Remington College).”

However, Charvey stuck with his music and in 2001 began performing with Kevin and Bethany Page at Lindenwood Christian Church. 

“That was a huge turning point for me,” said Charvey. “Working in their band I really learned about showmanship and technical proficiency. I played with them for several years. Then, in 2007, I started playing weekly Sunday night gigs at T. J. Mulligan’s on Houston Levee.”

Charvey’s style is best described as soulful pop. It was during one of those weekly sets that a manager for Superior Bar (now Jerry Lee’s) on Beale Street saw Charvey and offered him a gig to play six days a week.  

“I started to get a loop station, the ability to record and to play over the music I just recorded,” said Charvey. “It really added to my overall performance, having it sound like there were more guitars. It was an idea that I got from Matt Tutor who performed at Rum Boogie and Alfred’s. That was the springboard for me into the world of performing as a one-man band.”

Charvey continued to perform at T. J. Mulligan’s, in a band called Six String Lovers, that he formed with Vanessa Sudbury. Simultaneously, he also performed about six solo shows a week on Beale Street. The work was enough to sustain him and over the years, Charvey has expanded his venues to include places such as Brookhaven Pub & Grill and Let It Fly sports bar, as well as performing as musical entertainment at various nonprofit galas. And later this year, Charvey is planning an Extended Play record release of some of his original songs.

“This city is a very unique, loving place,” said Charvey. “Memphis supports live music in all parts of town and I’m blessed to be able to do what I love for a living.”

To follow Charvey Mac and his music, visit his website, charveymac.com, or his page on Facebook, Charvey Mac Memphis.