My recommendations for New Year’s Eve downtown

New Year’s Eve is not normally one of my favorite holidays. Congested downtown streets, parking fees and cover charges that have been jacked up to the moon, long lines to get drinks, crowded bars where there’s no room to move around, drunk assholes who yell and scream and start fights and think that’s what “partying” is all about. Normally I won’t go near Beale Street or any of the surrounding “party bars” on New Year’s Eve.

Well, here are two options for people who want to avoid all that mess, who just want to have a laid-back, chilled-out, fun time with their friends and people who love Downtown Memphis.

First of all, I heard that the Majestic Grille was doing something for New Year’s, and I e-mailed Deni, one of the owners, asking for details. Here’s what she sent in response:

New Year’s Eve at the Majestic Grille

Tired of going to restaurants on New Year’s Eve

and paying too much for the same old food?

Then come to the Majestic Grille where we will

be serving our regular menu at regular prices to

our wonderful regulars!

In addition to our menu, Patrick will be

creating some fantastic specials…just in case

you want to spice things up a little.

Champagne will be flowing, spirits will be

high and the Majestic Grille will welcome

In the New Year in our laid back, classy way!

Come as you are and join us for New Year’s Eve.

Make reservations by calling 901-522-8555

Or visit our website at

In her e-mail to me, she agreed that she and Patrick hate to see restaurant owners overcharge for New Year’s. Therefore, they want to provide a casual but classy environment where you can come as you are, grab a burger and head to Beale, OR dress up, order some specials, a bottle or three of champagne and blow it out. They also gave me a hint as to what they’re thinking for one of the specials… Gorgonzola encrusted Ribeye with a port wine reduction.

Here’s a second party option for that evening. Sleep Out Louie’s is having a NYE party with two bands – Bobby Durango, Crash Kole, and Smokin’ Lemon from 6 to 9, and Pam & Terry from 10 to 2.

Sleep Out’s tends to be a friendly locals’ bar, rather than a tourist/party bar, and it’s far enough removed from Beale that they won’t draw a whole lot of rowdy drunks who stumble upon it by accident. And although Sleep Out’s is more laid back, if you’ve read my posts over the past year, you know that we have a whole lot of fun there. I don’t think there’s a cover but I’m not 100% positive – I’ll check with Josh (aka Smokin’ Lemon) on that.

So come on down and check out Sleep Out’s, or the Majestic, or both on New Year’s Eve. Since New Year’s Eve occurs on a Sunday this year, I’ll probably do a very extended Sunday brunch at SOL, and then wander over to the Majestic at some point during the evening. First New Year’s Eve in several years that I’m looking forward to… should be a good time.

Filling a hole: 100 S. Main

Yesterday in the Commercial Appeal, there was an article about four proposed projects to fill in the big, muddy hole at 100 S. Main, former home of the Cook & Love shoe store and of some abandoned buildings that burned in the late 1990s. The hole was to be filled by a 28-story apartment complex called The Vue, but the project was abandoned when funding could not be secured.

After looking at the four proposals, the one that I think would be best for Downtown Memphis is the 20-story apartment-and-retail building proposed by Riverside Partners. Here are the reasons why, as a long-time Downtown resident, this one looks best to me.

First of all, this development would have the most apartment units (202) of any of the four proposals. The people involved correctly assessed that there are not enough apartment units in the core of downtown, as many of the existing units are being converted to condos. With downtown thriving and more restaurants and entertainment options being added all the time, I have no doubt they would be able to fill those apartment units.

Also, building apartments rather than condos will increase diversity downtown. More and more, downtown is approaching as situation where people can’t afford to live there unless they can purchase a condo for $200K or more, or write a four-digit rent check every month for one of the few remaining apartments. There are a few exceptions, but those apartments are becoming harder and harder to find. I want to have artists and musicians as my neighbors downtown; I want to have people in education as my neighbors; I want the people who work service-industry jobs downtown to be able to live nearby and walk to their jobs. Therefore, I’m happy to see more apartments being planned.

The Riverside Partners proposal also contains more square feet of retail space (about 14,000) than any of the others. There are still plenty of retail opportunities yet to be adequately addressed (GROCERY STORE!!! BOOKSTORE!!! DRUGSTORE THAT STAYS OPEN LATER THAN EIGHT FREAKIN’ P.M.!!!) downtown, and making as much space as possible in the downtown core, on the trolley line, is a good thing. The project does not include any hotel or office space, but several other hotels are currently being built nearby, and as far as I’ve heard there’s no lack of office space in the area.

In addition, three of Riverside’s partners (Darrell, Cardell, and Eric) are people I’ve known and worked with in Mpact Memphis for the past five years. They’re people of strong character, and I know that when they propose projects, they’re looking to enrich the community as well as themselves.

Also, this is the only of the four proposals that has 100% minority involvement. In a city like Memphis, that’s extremely important.

They have solid financial backing in place, through a real estate brokerage and finance firm out of Dallas, so it’s unlikely the deal would fall through like the Vue did. They also have a partner on their team who runs the Washington, DC Minority Business Development Center. Sounds like they’ve assembled a capable team.

So, if anyone from the Center City Commission reads this – and I know my blog is read regularly at the CCC – consider this some citizen feedback. I can’t speak for all Downtowners, but this is the project at least one Downtowner would like to see.

Coming tonight: My recommendations for a fun New Year’s Eve downtown, how to have fun without dealing with pushy crowds and high cover charges.

More on Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)

Last week, I posted an article about Best Buy moving to a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) at its corporate offices. Under this system, employees are not required to be at the office during mandatory work hours – they can do their work when and where they choose, and they are measured by their performance, not by their presence. Companies that have adopted ROWE have seen a significant increase in employee performance, as well as a decrease in employee turnover.

CultureRx, a consulting company that helps other companies convert to ROWE, has a presentation on their website explaining how ROWE works (requires Flash). If you’re an entrepreneur or corporate manager, or if you’re an employee who loves your job but hates Cubicle World, I encourage you to check out this site.

Quote from the site: “If Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in 1 hour, would you make him sit at his desk 7 more?”

Great to see companies thinking outside the box. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of cubicle culture.

Drunk post

Thanks to one of my regular blog readers, who shall remain anonymous, who helped me realize that I mis-labeled the flavors emanating from the Lienenkugel (I spelled that drunk, can you believe that) Summer Wheat. It’s not cherry flavored as I first speculated, but blueberry. If you were at Pint Nite tonight you could’ve had it for $2.50 – otherwise it’s $4.

Walking to the Saucer tonight, I saw the following sign in the window of Pancho’s:

That’s right, Downtown Pancho’s has CLOSED. That’s a shock – they’ve been around forever. Granted, their food was pretty awful, but after 5 or 6 or 8 margaritas, who noticed? They were one of the first restaurants downtown – wonder if the rent got too high, especially in the face of competition from Rio Loco and The Happy Mexican.

So anyway, I made it down to the Flying Saucer for Pint Nite. (I wonder if blog reader “Stan” will accuse me of taking payoffs from the Saucer to promote the place. Now that I think about it, as much as I mention them they probably should pay me off.) Hung out with two of my regular blog readers for a while, one of whom is mentioned above at the beginning of this post. She pointed out that if Sunset Wheat does indeed have a blueberry taste, it should be considered a breakfast beer. (“It’s like a blueberry muffin in a glass.”)

She want on to provide a classic Thanksgiving quote (yes I know it’s December and therefore a month past Thanksgiving). “I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce. The only way I eat cranberries is with vodka.” Now that’s a true Downtown Memphis quote if I ever heard one.

Later in the evening I hung out with regular blog readers Kyle and Clonts. By that point it had gotten jam-packed at the Saucer; you could tell college was out for the semester. Here are a couple of pics, taken about 11:30:

Kyle pointed out that one of the regulars’ favorite Saucer beers from Halloween/Thanksgiving, Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, is no longer available at the Saucer, but is on sale for $3.99 a six-pack at the Avenue at Carriage Crossing in East Bumblefuck.

The warm weather continues, and we had a tube top sighting at the Saucer on December 18! Nice!

My regular blog reader from the early evening and I discussed ways to write off our purchases on our taxes. Her take was that you can write off medical expenses, and alcohol (being a drug) qualifies as a medical expense. My take is, part of the money I spend at the Saucer helps deserving college students pay for tuition. It’s just that I choose to support the subset of the college community that wear miniskirts. And serve me beer. Oh, and also, from August to October some of the money I spent at the Saucer went toward the “Feed Romania” project. That’s charitable, isn’t it?

And that’ll do it for this drunk post. After I finish my can of Campbell’s Fajita Chicken soup, I’ll be headed off to bed for almost 6 hours of sleep! And then I get to go sit in a cubicle again! Yay!

New restaurant: Crepe Maker

Saturday as I headed to Beale Street for the Christmas parade, I happened across a new restaurant called Crepe Maker. It’s at the corner of Third and Peabody Place in the Hampton Inn, in the space where Corky’s BBQ used to be and before that Fat City Beignets.

I went back there Sunday and ate and got a copy of their menu. They have about 20 entree crepes ranging in price from $4.95 to $7.45. A few entree crepe examples:

Steak Milanese – Marinated steak, Virginia baked ham, sweet red onions, melted cheddar, vine ripe tomatoes, romaine lettuce, topped with steak sauce – $7.45

Opulence – Marinated chicken breast, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, portabella mushrooms, spinach, fresh basil, melted mozzarella – $7.45

Havana Chicken – Marinated chicken breast, season black beans, sweet red peppers, cheddar and jack cheese, fresh lettuce, vine ripe tomatoes, pesto sauce, and cilantro – $6.75

Mediterranean Tuna – Dolphin safe tuna, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, olives, fresh baby leaf spinach, vine ripe tomatoes, and fresh basil – $7.25

Below is a pic of the Southwest crepe I had for lunch:

It comes in wrapping paper and you pick it up and eat it with your hands, kind of like you would a pita sandwich.

Any entree crepe can also be made as a salad.

They also have about 15 dessert crepes, ranging in price from $4.25 to $6.25. A few examples:

Nutty Caramel Apple – Fire roasted apples, topped with dulce de leche, sprinkled with cinnamon, walnuts and powdered sugar – $4.95

Frankie – Freshly sliced bananas, Nutella chocolaty spread, melted Reese’s pieces, real whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon – $4.95

Bad Girl – Sweet sliced strawberries, dulce de leche, powdered sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and a dash of Grand Marnier – $4.95

They also have a selection of egg crepes, served all day long ($4.50 to $4.95), and crepes a la mode ($5.50 to $5.95).

Crepe Maker has a website, but they didn’t include the most important thing a restaurant should put on its website – a menu. So you’ll have to go by their location at Third and Peabody Place and pick up a menu for yourself. They’re open at 7 AM everyday, close at 7 PM Mon-Thur, 9 PM Fri-Sat, 5 PM Sun.

Note to blog reader “Stan” who e-mailed, accusing me of taking payoffs from EP’s Delta Kitchen in exchange for saying nice things about them on my blog: I guess now you’ll accuse Crepe Maker of paying me off. By the way, that’s a hell of a gig your band has scheduled for New Year’s Eve, congratulations on that.

Coming 02/07

A lot of downtowners have walked by 99 S. Main the past few weeks, seen the image below in the window, and have wondered exactly WHAT is coming in February ’07.

My friends have been getting all excited, hoping for a fun new restaurant, or maybe a grocery store. Well, sorry to disappoint, but it ain’t gonna happen. They updated their window a few days ago, indicating that it will be the office of Main Street Dental.

Beer recommendation

I tried posting this one yesterday from my phone, but the Publish button wouldn’t work on the “new, improved” Blogger interface. Have I mentioned that I hate Blogger?

Yesterday I discovered a new beer at the Flying Saucer that is really, really good – Lienenkugel Sunset Wheat. It’s a wheat beer with fruity flavors – the taste is somewhere between orange and cherry. If you like Blue Moon, you’ll like the Sunset Wheat – in fact, I think it’s even better than Blue Moon. At 4 bucks, it’s relatively inexpensive too (or you can try one tomorrow at Pint Nite for $2.50).

Also, Beer Goddess Amy (waitress Amy, not bartender Mama Amy) invented a new “A-Team” beer mixer: Sunset Wheat and Framboise, topped with an orange slice. Only problem is, the mixture turns out somewhat pink in color, so it’s not a very manly drink.

I’m heading to Sleep Out’s in a little while for an abbreviated version of Sunday brunch (I should be out of there by noon), then I’ll spend all afternoon taking photos for my new website. Coming this week: Another new restaurant that has opened downtown (no it’s not Spindini, but yet another one), more info on the Results-Only Work Environment that eliminates clocks and cubicles, and a book that teaches “nice guys” how to be more successful with the opposite sex. It’s a beautiful Sunday! Get off your computers and go outside!

It’s December 16 and I have shorts on

Dear Santa,

It’s supposed to go to 68 degrees here today and 73 tomorrow. All I want for Christmas is to keep this weather all winter long. Oh, and the ability to snap my fingers and have an order of the crawfish nachos from EP’s Delta Kitchen’s late night menu instantly appear.


For those of you coming downtown for the Christmas parade at 4, you might want to stick around after it’s over and head toward the river… there will be a Holiday Boat Parade presented by the Memphis Yacht Club on the river at 6:30. From what I’ve read, it sounds like the Riverside Drive walkway across from the foot of Mud Island will be the best place to see the boats. For those of you participating in the parade, be careful not to hit the mana… oh, wait, he’s already dead, nevermind.

Speaking of EP’s… Dani will be singing there Tuesday night. I remember hearing her at one of the 2005 Court Square concerts, and she has an amazing voice. Maybe I’ll head down there and catch part of her show after trivia at the Saucer.

Also, EP’s has their special New Year’s Eve dinner menu on their site. They have a 3-course and a 4-course option. If you go to their main page, you’ll see a banner you can click to pull up the menu. Grilled venison tenderloin is one of the options on the 4-course dinner… yum!

Just discovered that Abyssinia, the Ethopian restaurant on Poplar that I keep meaning to go visit but for some reason never get there, has their menu online. They have a lunch buffet on the weekdays, and that place is like a 2-minute drive from where I work. Dude, I am so there one day next week!

I’m heading out to take some photos of Downtown for my new website, and to catch the parade. I’ve been wearing a Santa hat every day this week, but I won’t be able to wear it today… you see, I’m meeting some friends at Swig for drinks tonight, and they have their incredibly stupid “Gentlemen, please remove your hats” rule. I guess I could wear the hat all day and take it off when I enter Swig, but then I’d be walking around with hat-hair, which is not good. So I guess I’ll leave the Santa hat at home. Anyway, I’m outta here, see you later!

Downtown’s best burgers

If you visit Downtown Memphis and ask, “Where can I go to get a good burger?”, you’ll most likely be told to go to Huey’s. Huey’s has won every “Best of Memphis” poll in the Best Burger category for years and years. They’re a local institution. And they deserve it – they make a fine burger.

However, if you were to ask me where to get the best burger downtown, I can think of at least six places that make burgers that are even better than Huey’s. Here they are, in no particular order:

Elliott’s – this is a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant on Second between Madison and Monroe. You can order a hamburger or cheeseburger and then dress it the way you want on their fixins’ bar/salad bar.

Big Foot Lodge – their Four Cheese Burger is my current addiction. I like to spend 50 cents extra and get it topped with mushrooms. Alternately, you could top it with bacon. Definitely not recommended by the American Heart Association as a healthy dining choice, but who cares? It’s so good. Big Foot is located on Second, in the row of restaurants across from the Peabody.

The Majestic Grille – what really pushes the Majestic’s burger into the land of hamburger superstardom is the parmesan shoestring fries that come with it. The Majestic is on Main just north of Peabody Place, perfectly located for dining before or after a show at the Orpheum or a Grizzlies game.

Dyer’s – the Double-Double is about as close to perfection as a hamburger can come. Their patties are very, very thin, so a Double-Double (double meat, double cheese) is about right for normal-sized appetites. If you’re hungry, get a Triple-Triple. Dyer’s is located on Beale between Third and Fourth, and is one of the best values for the money on the street.

Zanzibar – you wouldn’t expect the hamburger to be one of the standouts on their eclectic, arty menu, but stand out it does. The “Z-Burger” is one of the best I’ve had downtown. Zanzibar is in the South Main Arts District near the intersection of Main and Huling.

Earnestine & Hazel’s – you ain’t been to Memphis until you’ve had a “Soul Burger,” the lone item on E&H’s menu. My recommendation for a perfect Saturday night: Hit E&H about 11 for a Soul Burger, a cold beer, and some tunes on their legendary jukebox; then cruise about four blocks north on Main and turn right on Vance for dancing and a cold 40 at Raiford’s. E&H is at the corner of Main and G.E. Patterson in the South Main arts district.

Did I miss any downtown restaurants that have turned the burger into a culinary masterpiece? Shoot me an e-mail and let me know.