There were actually two Hungry Fisherman restaurants in the Memphis area, and each one looked pretty much like the building shown here on their menus. They were supposed to be rambling fishing shacks, each one overlooking a nice lake, but with a seating capacity of 700, they were also this area's largest restaurants.
I keep saying "this area" because both were just outside of the city limits. Operated by Shoney's (did you know that?), the first Hungry Fisherman opened on Munson Road, which was just northeast of the present-day intersection of Shelby Oaks Drive and Sycamore View. The second in the chain came a few years later, on Goodman Road just north of where it crosses over I-55 in Mississippi.
The Memphis Press-Scimitar positively gushed about these nautical-themed restaurants when the first one opened, with one columnist calling it — with its rough boards and low roof, propped up on wooden piers — "an extraordinarily conceived and decorated building, one which is destined to be a talking piece and the object of curiosity for as long as it may exist, and which will then be part of the legend of Memphis."
Okay, "legend" may be a bit too strong, but lots of Memphians remember these places fondly, and I'm one of them. It wasn't so much the "fisherman" theme of the place, but the really good food (I can still remember — and taste — the huge platters of fried shrimp) and the ice-cold pitchers of sangria. Lots of pitchers of sangria.
The place was jam-packed with nautical knicknacks. Oars, navigation lights, a ship's wheel, engine room telegraph, and other seagoing hardware supposedly came from an old World War II freighter, and more than 40 detailed models of ships were mounted on the walls around the large dining room. Salad bars were built in the shape of lifeboats, the menus came on fish-shaped boards (for a while, anyway), bright pennants hung overhead, and the bathrooms were marked for "Gulls" and "Buoys."
Both places closed sometime in the 1980s, but I can't give you a specific date. It's all those pitchers of sangria, I tell you. The Hungry Fisherman near Sycamore View housed a nightclub called Mardi Gras for several years, but it eventually close and was torn down. The big asphalt parking lot and the five-acre lake have survived, if you know where to look for them.
The Goodman Road Hungry Fisherman housed the Mississippi Treasures antique mall for maybe a dozen years. When it closed, the big building was torn down, and the lake filled in. The site is now home to a row of nice motels, part of an office and commercial complex that includes the Baptist Hospital - DeSoto.
The parking lot and lake are all that remain from the Hungry Fisherman near Sycamore View.