Bad news for those of you who were looking forward to authentic Russian banya in Downtown Memphis: It ain’t gonna happen. A businessman from Russia named Yuri, who moved here after studying aeronautic engineering at Georgia Tech, had planned to open an authentic Russian bath house, or banya, at the southwest corner of Union and Main (old Smooth Moves location). However, when he had to travel home to visit his sick mother, he encountered problems when he returned to the US. Customs agents in Atlanta told him his visa only allowed him to work as an aeronautic engineer here. He cannot legally open a bath house under his visa. His lawyers have been fighting it for the past week, but today he posted to Facebook and Twitter that his appeals have fallen upon deaf ears. He must go.
Thanks Yuri for trying to bring something different to Downtown Memphis. I wish you well, and hope that one day you get to fulfill your dream of opening a bath house in the city of Elvis Presley.
Yuri posted something interesting to Facebook this morning. He went to visit the property at 85 Union one last time, and there was “a most intelligent gentleman” looking around. Yuri posted, “here is business:” and a link to Thompson, an advertising agency located Downtown. Could Thompson have their eye on that space, now that it’s available? I’ve been familiar with the company for a while, since I judged an employee baking contest there in 2009. Very nice people, and I’ve heard from sources within the company that they have been looking to expand. That location would be ideal for a growing company like Thompson.