PHOTO: Guests enjoy delicious dinner at Brentwood’s Mere Bulles.

Both Mere Bulles and Green Hills Grille are mini epicenters of the communities they inhabit. One thing they have in common is their owner, Steven Smithing.

Smithing has worked in the restaurant business since he was a teenager. His career began in Memphis as a dishwasher at Mortimer’s on Perkins Road. He then graduated to waiting tables, bartending, and managing.

“I realized I really enjoyed serving people. Some people think that’s not what they want to do… but that’s what I wanted to do.”

With that same sentiment in mind, Smithing went onto buy Mere Bulles in 2007, a restaurant that he had previously been responsible for as area director.

Now owned by Smithing, Mere Bulles is known for their event planning as much as their delicious southern-fare and convenient business luncheon location in Maryland Farms.

“We do everything from rehearsal dinners, to bridal luncheons and business events,” Mere Bulles Wedding Coordinator, Awndria Baker said.

Baker was formerly Maitre d’ at Green Hills Grille when Smithing graciously offered her the position of wedding coordinator at Mere Bulles. “She was our no. 1 front door manager,” Smithing said lightheartedly.

Baker said the most rewarding part of working at Mere Bulles is the familial connection cultivated there.

“It’s great to connect with brides, their parents, the grooms, and everybody and just their whole family and just kind of bring that big event together,” she said.

As far as Green Hills Grille, Smithing’s answer to reopening it was simple: “I live in Green Hills and I missed it. I worked there for 11 and a half years out of college… I was a server there, bartender, general manager.”

He recognized how much of a community restaurant it was and said, “that’s what I tried to recreate there.” He added jokingly, “I’m not trying to win a James Beard award. It was the neighborhood restaurant. We serve authentic, really good food, all made from scratch, but we are really trying to be the nearby go to place to visit between your dining destinations.”

It was no wonder then that in September of 2015, Smithing was gearing up to reopen Green Hills Grille. Now with almost two years under it’s belt, the new and improved location is bustling and adapting to the ever-changing food culture.

“Food comes and goes like rose wine, tastes exactly like my mother’s wine tasted in 1977. Now it’s hot again. So you have to move things around a little bit,” Smithing said.

Some of these additions include tacos and sushi, items that did not previously exist on the menu. Smithing hopes to cultivate new energy and interest in new and old customers alike.

“I asked my dad the other day, ‘What’s the best sushi you’ve ever had?’ He said, ‘I’ve never had any sushi in my life.’ And I thought, ‘That’s hard to believe,” he said jokingly.

Smithing is very proud of his staff at both Mere Bulles and Green Hills Grille. “They care about it, they communicate well, and they understand what their purpose is,” he said.

For Smithing, being a member of the community and being able to fulfill their needs is the most rewarding part of the job.

He said, “My favorite thing to do is hear somebody say they want something and then just bring it to them and hear the people at the table say, ‘you never even told the guy you wanted it.’ That is my love of service.”

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