An Edge Alley server and host who loves food, fashion and fighting for equity
Our #FamiliarFaces are people in the food scene whose faces you might recognize but whose stories you probably don’t know. They are good at what they do, fun to talk to and just seem interesting—people we all want to know more about. So we’re starting the conversation for you!
Photography by Ziggy Mack
A native Memphian who just can’t shake the city, Noah Couch left retail life to serve and host at Edge Alley.
On any given day, you may find Noah volunteering for a presidential campaign, thoughtfully styling the day’s outfit, standing on a local picket line, or waxing eloquent about Edge Alley’s menu and culture.
“I love being part of something bigger than myself,” says Noah.
We think, like us, you’ll find that Noah’s love for Memphis and dedication to making it better for everyone are infectious!
Edible Memphis: Where did you grow up?
Noah Couch: I grew up in Memphis and moved to Indianapolis at 18. I came back because Memphis has a very unique grit to it. With civil rights culture and food history and the music scene, we’ve always put our best foot forward when it comes to promoting our diversity and being proud of it.
How did you get into the restaurant industry, and specifically Edge Alley?
I had done restaurant work on and off as a side gig while I was working at Banana Republic full-time. I saw how a city’s restaurant scene can impact local culture, and I wanted to be part of that. Then I started going to Edge Alley for brunch every weekend and loved it so much that I jumped on. One of the reasons I love Edge Alley is they’re taking a lot of really simple dishes and using fairly sourced ingredients and bringing really good coffee and food and making it accessible at a decent price point to a neighborhood that hasn’t had anything like that.
Does anything in particular stress you out at work?
No. Tim and Lena [Barker, owners of Edge Alley] have worked for the Beauty Shop and other restaurants. They get what it’s like to be a server or a line cook or a barista. They understand what we go through. They treat us like humans. It’s one of the first jobs where I’ve felt full respect from a boss.
What’s something people don’t know about Edge Alley?
We have a little something for everyone. People don’t understand that we’re not just there for breakfast. We can do a business dinner, coffee with friends, date night. Edge Alley is very versatile.
If you weren’t working at Edge Alley, where would you be?
I’d probably still be at Banana doing visual merchandising. That was my first big girl job. I got to style people for big occasions and bring the product to life. I loved it.
We hear you’re working with Elizabeth Warren.
I am one of our LGBTQ community leaders for Elizabeth Warren. I went to a rally of hers in March, and you could tell she was so genuine in what she was saying. There was definitely a big fan girl moment—I cried. I was so glad she came to Memphis to talk about her affordable housing plan. I applied to be a volunteer, and the next day I got a call from her headquarters in Boston asking if I’d like to interview to be a community team leader. Now I lead national LGBTQ policy discussion with volunteers from around the nation.
What’s your dream job?
My dream job would be to be a professional activist and organizer. I really want to help elevate women’s voices throughout the Mid-South and country and bring their issues to the table with legislators and lawmakers. When I retire, I would love to be nominated for Secretary of State.
Do you have a side hustle?
Just the campaign and volunteering when I can with Friends for Life and Planned Parenthood. I’m really passionate about affordable and accessible reproductive and sexual health, and Memphis is one of the top cities for HIV transmission. Publicly lobbying and protesting and helping out at events is really important. Whenever I have a free moment, you can find me on the picket line somewhere.
What’s a typical meal for you at home?
I’m a terrible cook. I haven’t bought groceries since moving into my apartment last September . I basically live off of Huey’s. And I’m a secret fast food connoisseur; the people at Cook Out definitely know my name.
Who do you like to spend your time with?
My partner, Tait. He teaches high school government and civics; that’s a big passion we share together. We spend a lot of evenings going out to dinner, going to brunch when we can. We’re really into cinema. He’s my best friend.
What are you reading, watching or listening to right now?
All I watch right now is a lot of C-SPAN. I watch a lot of the House and Senate floor. And listen to a lot of NPR. Movie-wise, the last thing I watched was The English Patient. My partner and I are watching every best picture nominee from 1990 to present-day. We just finished up 1997.
Have you ever been to Graceland?
No, I’ve never met a Memphian that goes to Graceland.
I love a lazy weekend so I usually don’t wake up in time to go to the farmers market. I do love to look at the fresh flowers and baked bread and produce. If I could wake up early enough, I would exclusively shop at the farmers market.
Ridden a bird?
I have not ridden a Bird. I’m scared I’ll fall flat on my face.
When a friend visits Memphis, where do you take them?
My first stop would be the happy hour and dinner at Catherine & Mary’s. Then Bar DKDC for a beer, a cig and a show. Round it all out with brunch at The Liquor Store.
Personal style philosophy?
I love a good contemporary, classic piece. When I worked at Banana, I learned about the different fabrics, color, fit. Investing in high quality pieces that are more classic is better than buying trendy pieces that will fall apart or that you won’t wear long. I love a simple blouse, tailored blazer, skinny pant, ankle flat. And I think denim is very important—a good piece of broken-in denim.
Who’s your mentor?
My mom. We have totally different paths in life and we don’t necessarily agree on everything, but she has a serious disability and went through hell to make sure she could raise her kids the best she could. Her resilience sticks with me. I look up to and admire her for what she’s done for me as a kid. I take that strength she has and carry it with me. She is one of the b women in my life who have inspired me to fight for equity in our society.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would like to see myself organizing and still fighting for issues that matter—elevating the voices of women, universal pre-K, paid family leave, affordable and accessible health care. I see myself continuing to fight for what I believe in and helping others do the same thing.
If you could have lunch with any Memphian, who would it be? Where would you go?
I’m not a big lunch person. If I could take my bosses, Tim and Lena, to Avenue Coffee, I would love that. They treat us as if we’re part owners in the restaurant. They want to be part of our lives. I admire them and see them as another mentor, almost as family. I’d like to treat them to a really good espresso and thank them for what they’ve done for me.
Manda Gibson is copy editor at Edible Memphis. Most days you can find her running on the streets of Memphis, cooking “real food” meals for her family and silently judging the grammar of everyone she meets.
Ziggy Mack is an internationally published photographer about town. When not immortalizing the movements of ballerinas, circus performers and mermaids, he spends his time finding candid moments involving delectable cuisines and the people that create them. @fomoloop