To Top

Meet Charles Nwankwo and Rickey Johnson of Sage Memphis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charles Nwankwo and Rickey Johnson. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Sage Memphis initially started off with Charles and a good friend of his—Minh Nguyen— wanting to do marketing and rebranding for Oshi Asian Kitchen. It was quickly decided that the owners of Oshi Asian Kitchen wanted to sell, instead of re-brand, the business.

That very moment is when Charles sought out other business partners Rickey Johnson, Courtney Mims, Christopher Tatum, Oderah Nwankwo, and former business partner Jeremy Toney and as a team, they decided to step in and formulate their own idea of starting a restaurant.

From there, the concept of Sage Memphis was born. The rest is history.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth, what’s that? In all honesty, smooth is not where we are right now. Being a novice to the restaurant industry, we’ve definitely faced many bumps and encounters that have helped us to grow to where we are right now. Some of the challenges we’ve faced early on came from within our local community.

As you know, Memphis can be deemed as very polarizing and there were some people who were not as welcoming to us being in the location that we are. We experienced threats, vandalism, and false accusations during our first year of opening. After getting past that, COVID hit. A new business in the middle of the pandemic, we ended up shutting down as we went into our second year for nearly all of 2020. We re-opened back in November of 2020 and the lack of workforce then negatively impacted us.

Ever since then, the struggle to find consistent staff has been constant, whereas before, the talent pool was limitless. The word sage can refer to an old wise being who speaks positivity, as well as to a green, leafy herb that you burn to take away negativity. Positivity, a positive mindset, a positive aura, just all things positive, has been the driving force in keeping Sage Memphis afloat during these hard times.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Sage is a fusion Soul-American grill restaurant. Our main goal is to Serve A Great Experience (SAGE). That experience comes from the food that you eat, the drinks that you drink, and the service that we provide, which we always hope is excellent. We specialize in feeding and nourishing the soul through great food and drink options.

We want Sage Memphis to be a place of relaxation and a place where people can consider it as a total “vibe”. Our role as owners in the business is to support all needs—whether it’s financial, managerial, or through excellent customer service. We are most proud of the fact that Sage has become a destination spot when people visit Memphis. We have gone viral at least a couple of times on TikTok. What sets us apart from others is our food as well as the ambiance.

We have been told many times that once you’re in Sage, you do not feel like you’re in the city of Memphis. We want readers to know that Sage is here to serve Memphis and all of the wonderful visitors who visit the city of Memphis. We try our best to accommodate all of our customers and if there’s ever a problem, we are the type of owners that are not far from reach.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: @sagememphis
  • Facebook: Sage Memphis

Image Credits

Alison Stukenbork and William Banks

Suggest a Story: VoyageMemphis is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Cathi Johnson

    January 25, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    SAGE Restaurant is super fantastic great! The food and drinks are delicious. The servers are friendly and take and serve your order quickly. The atmosphere is relaxing. My dining experience there was superb.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Local Stories