The Original Vision
In December 1990, Joann Johnson (maiden name Finocchiaro) decided Memphis had absolutely nowhere in town to shop for authentic Italian groceries. Joann’s parents immigrated to the US from Sicily and set up stake in “The Hill” district of St. Louis, MO. Joann moved to Memphis and always had trouble finding all of the Italian ingredients she needed to just make a simple Italian dinner. So, she started Fino’s Italian Grocery.
While Fino’s (pronounced FIN-OHS) started out as mostly a grocery store, it quickly evolved into a grocery & deli with the addition of sandwiches and homemade desserts – and, thus, a few tables for dining in. Twenty years later, Fino’s had morphed into a 43-seat deli with about 1/3 of the floor space dedicated to grocery shelves for specialty Italian items available nowhere else in Memphis. In those 20 years, Fino’s grew into what we like to call a “Memphis institution” – a hidden little gem in Midtown that everyone had heard about, but not everyone had tried. Those “in the know” were rewarded with a food addiction caused by the crusty bread, the homemade olive tapenades, our specialty marinated tomato/onion dressing for the sandwiches, and specialty Italian meats imported directly from Volpi on “The Hill” in St. Louis.
After 20 years of building a loyal following, Joann was ready to call it quits, retire, and either sell Fino’s off or just close it. That’s where I come in.
Continuing a classic
In early 2008, Joann decided to retire after eighteen years of serving Memphis. Around that time Jerry Wilson Jr., a loyal customer and long time fan of the Fino’s brand, approached Joann about opening a second Fino’s in East Memphis to serve the customers out east. In 2009 Jerry took ownership of the Fino’s brand and expanded (like he said he would) into East Memphis. All of the staff stayed on board, all of the food stayed the same. For ten years he and his team loyally served the city of Memphis with their signature sandwiches and service. Although customers remained loyal, around the end of 2018 Fino’s decided to close their doors to much of the public’s protest.
A new beginning
In the winter of 2019, Chef and Proprietor Kelly English became interested in purchasing the Fino’s brand. Chef Kelly, already well known in the city for Restaurant Iris and The Second Line, and his Iris Restaurant Group took ownership and began the work of freshening up the Midtown location. Kelly’s brother Todd English will continue the family legacy both within the English name and with the Fino’s brand. This next chapter of Fino’s will introduce new concepts like breakfast items and an expanded pizza menu, while still keeping the recipes and items that made Fino’s what it was to begin with. Fino’s has become a Midtown landmark, and a Memphis institution. We can’t wait to have you in…