Mon update: Downtown Dining Week starts today, Salty Dogs, Tennessee Parks & Greenways party, Big Wheel Race, Beetle brunch

Breaking BAD news: NBA talks have broken down, players’ union has begun steps to decertify. Most likely there will not be a season. Sucks. :(

Downtown Dining Week begins tonight. Many restaurants will offer 3-course meals for $20.11 tonight through Sunday. I’ll say it one more time: If you plan on dining at these restaurants, make reservations NOW. They will fill up, and it may already be too late if you’re shooting for the “prime time” dinner hour at the more popular places. A few of the restaurants (Bardog, for example) don’t take reservations.

Those in the Salty Dogs runners group: Bardog will need the Underdog space for dinner tonight, so the weekly run will start at Ferraro’s instead at 7 PM. Ferraro’s is at Main and Jackson, just north of the I-40 bridge.

This isn’t a Downtown event, but I was asked to mention it and it’s in support of a good cause. The Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation is hosting “Cocktails and Conversation” at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Friday December 2 from 4:30-7:00 PM. They will introduce their new West Tennessee Parks and Greenways Coordinator at the event, and there will be live music by Kevin Sheahan and friends. Refreshments will be provided, and you’ll be able to learn more about the parks and green spaces in your own backyard. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on the website.

The Beale Street Big Wheel Race scheduled for Saturday, November 26 now has its own Facebook event listing. You can respond “attending” to keep up with the latest news on the race.

The Green Beetle has announced that they will start serving brunch on Sunday. This coming Sunday, November 20, they will have a live feed from RadioMemphis from 12 to 2.

Two big events happening Downtown in the next 24 hours: The Pixies play the Orpheum tonight at 8. Then, tomorrow at 11 AM, the Memphis Tigers play their first regular-season game at the FedExForum, hosting Belmont. Belmont went 30-5 last year and should be a serious challenge for the Tigers. Our nonconference schedule is not as loaded with cream puffs as it was last year.

Sorry for no blog post yesterday… I was experiencing stylesheet problems which apparently happened when I upgraded to OS X Lion/Firefox 8. It only happens on Firefox, so I guess my solution will be to switch to Chrome or Safari.

This should be a good week! My iPhone 4S will be here in a couple of days, my Kindle Fire may arrive (they’re shipping early), and I have Friday off. Lots of new toys, and time to play with them! I’ll be at Pint Nite at the Saucer at 6 tonight. Undecided whether I’ll do poker at the Goose at 10.

Sat update: Free business cards, Shufflegrit, Hog Hat, Stumbling Santa and more

Saturday morning. Time to get chores done, and the list is long this morning. Laundry. Back up the hard drive with Time Machine. Upgrade the MacBook from Snow Leopard to Lion. Print new business cards, because I’ve been out for a few weeks.

Speaking of business cards… I do my own cards, with a logo designed by local artist Shane Paris. If you don’t want to bother printing your own cards, though, one of the best deals on the web is VistaPrint. They’ll give you 250 business cards for free, and they’re not just basic business cards – you can choose from dozens of very professional templates.

Insider tip if you’re in the mood for some real Memphis music tonight: Shufflegrit plays the Center for Southern Folklore tonight at 8. They’re described as “folkabilly,” blending folk and rockabilly influences.

Not attending BarCamp today but am keeping an eye on the #bcmem hashtag for social media, development, and business tips.

The Arkansas Razorbacks host Tennessee at 5 PM today. I’ll be watching the game at the Saucer (it’s on ESPN2) and the Hog Hat will be on! Come join if you’re looking for a place to watch. It’s time to CALL THOSE HOGS!!!

I ended up only making the first two stops of the Snuggie Pub Crawl last night… ended up going back to the Saucer to meet friends and watch the Michigan State-North Carolina game-on-a-ship. There were easily more than 100 Snuggies and a lot of money got raised for LeBonheur, which is great. Here’s a look at the specials pub crawlers enjoyed:

The next Downtown pub crawl is the granddaddy of them all, the combination toy drive and pub crawl known as Stumbling Santa. The organizers are still working out the bars, but they’ve set the date for Saturday, December 3. Visit their event listing on Facebook and click “I’m attending” to keep up with the news about the crawl. You have three weeks to find a Santa suit and a toy!

All right, Time Machine has finished the backup, so it’s time to hit Publish and start the upgrade from Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Lion. I am MacBook, hear me roar!

Veterans’ Day

It’s Veterans’ Day. Thanks to those of you reading this who serve, or who have served in the past.

It’s also 11/11/11. Spaghetti Warehouse is doing a “Buy 1, get the second for $0.11” special for their lasagne and Original Spaghetti Recipe entrees. Go to their Facebook page to get the coupon.

Busy night tonight. Big events Downtown are the Snuggie Pub Crawl, the U of M vs. CBU men’s basketball at the FedExForum, the 11-11-11 party with tapping of special beers at the Flying Saucer, and the Maximums Elevenus Spinal Tap celebration at the Warehouse. I’ll be doing the Snuggie Pub Crawl. If you want to join, come to Kooky Canuck wearing a Snuggie between 6 and 7 PM. $20 at the door, in support of LeBonheur. We’ll be crawling to five Beale Street bars after we leave Kooky.

11-11-11 party and restaurant news

Tomorrow is 11-11-11 and there are two parties happening Downtown to celebrate the date. The Flying Saucer will have a party tomorrow, tapping three rare beers. Details below:

Meanwhile, down at the Warehouse on G.E. Patterson, there will be a “Maximus Elevenus – This is Spinal Tap” party. Live music by Eldorado and the Ruckus; DJ spinning tunes from Memphis movies; Guitar Hero battle with prizes; Celebrity Karaoke/Air Guitar; Rock Star photos; “Spontaneous Human Combustion” and “The Stonehenge” drinks; showing of This is Spinal Tap on the back patio and more. Get tickets here or at the door.

New restaurant news: I heard last night from a very credible source that construction is about to begin on Aldo’s Pizza Pies. They’re hoping to have the pizzeria, on the Main Street Mall on the ground floor of Barboro Flats, open in March. This time I think they mean it and it’s not another BS opening date that they’ll miss.

There’s also a new restaurant coming down South. The Memphis Daily News reports that Grawemeyer’s will open at 520 S. Main. The space is said to be a “retreat” for Downtowners, with bakery items and a bar in addition to being a full-service restaurant. Grawemeyer’s will be smoke-free (yay!) and will be designed for locals and tourists alike. I’ve heard from another source that the place will be Wi-Fi friendly as well. They hope to be open next month.

My final piece of news is not about a new Downtown restaurant, but rather about one that you may not know existed. Seth Agranov reviewed Roxie’s Grocery at 520 N. Third on his excellent Best Memphis Burger blog. He had the Uptown Burger with two patties and three kinds of cheese. Man that thing looks good! I looked it up on Google Maps, and Roxie’s appears to be located at Third and Mill, only 1 block north of A. W. Willis Avenue. I am definitely going to have to check this place out soon, even if it means (shudder) getting in the car and driving. Follow Seth on Twitter at @MemphisSeth to keep up with all his burger reviews.

And that’s the news for today. Time to turn my attention to the Frosty I just brought back from Wendy’s.

Final table

About 7:15 I was hanging out at the Flying Saucer, and the text notification went off on my phone. “You’re at the final table,” it said.

It was from Poker Jon, who runs the poker league at the Silly Goose and Bardog. Nightly prizes are awarded for the Goose game (10:00 Monday) and the Bardog game (7:30 Wednesday), but points are also awarded depending on how far you advance on any given night. Every 10 weeks the top 9 point earners advance to the “final table” for the chance to win a big cumulative prize. This time it was a seat to a major tournament in Tunica later this month.

Jon had told me Monday that I made the final table, but given the amount of beers I’d had by that point he could’ve told me I won a pet rhinoceros and I wouldn’t have remembered. I’m glad he texted. I tabbed out at the Saucer and ran over to Bardog and claimed my seat. The final table is a deeper-stacked tournament than Jon’s weekly games, with players starting with stacks of 15,000 chips rather than the usual 2500. I came in 4th, not good enough to claim a prize, but I was at least pleased that I outlasted several players who I highly respect.

After I got eliminated: Heads up action with Jon dealing
Final table winner Josh

Josh (pictured above) completely ran over the final table and ended up with all the chips. Congratulations and good luck in Tunica!

Wed update: Snuggie Pub Crawl, Downtown Dining Week, COGIC convention, WWII on Twitter

The annual Snuggie Pub Crawl is only two days away. The crawl will stop at Kooky Canuck, BB King’s, Club 152, Silky’s, Rum Boogie, and Alfred’s. I’ve done this the past two years, and it is a great way to be creative and meet new friends. It’s also a fundraiser for LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. Participants must be 21 and wearing a Snuggie. (I’m going to have my Arkansas Razorbacks Snuggie on.) Tickets are $15 in advance (advance sales cut off tomorrow), $20 at the door. Check their Facebook page for more info. Buy tickets here.

Downtown Dining Week starts Sunday, and a number of restaurants will offer 3-course menus for $20.11. Jennifer Biggs has a guide to navigating DDW in her Whining & Dining blog. I’m pleased to see more restaurants have been added since I last posted. I’m going to make a recommendation: Go to Rizzo’s Diner and have Chef Michael Patrick’s cheeseburger soup, chorizo meatloaf, and whichever dessert appeals to you. I promise you, that’s a meal you can’t go wrong with. Remember, these restaurants will fill up, so make reservations as early as possible.

Biggs also raises a good point: Please take good care of your servers. They will be pushed to the max as they serve full restaurants for seven days. Please recognize their hard work by tipping generously. 15% of $20.11 is $3, but $3 is really a pretty lousy tip when you’re really eating $35 worth of food. If I go to any of the DDW nights, my tip will be more toward the $6 range, plus extra if I order any booze. And let’s face it, you know I will order booze.

The full Downtown Dining Week restaurant list can be viewed here.

In other news, COGIC announced that their annual convention will remain in St. Louis through 2013. Who’da thunk I’d ever mention lousy tipping and COGIC in the same blog post?

Really, really cool Twitter account I learned about this morning: An account that will live-tweet the events of World War II over a six-year period. They’re at the beginning in 1939, right now. What a neat way for history fans to get deep into the events of the Second World War. Follow the account at @RealTimeWWII.

Plans for tonight: I’m going to play a game called Beer with Friends. No, it’s not a smartphone app. I’ll be at the Saucer around 6 PM. Right now, it’s time to go munch some Chinese food.

Tue update: China Restaurant closes, alternate names for Bleu, SMA meeting tonight, Shaq Goodwin

The Memphis Daily News blog reported that China Restaurant has gone out of business. The restaurant was open for 16 years on Jefferson, just east of Second next door to the Hospitality Hub. When I worked Downtown, I ate there now and then, and appreciated the restaurant’s very affordable prices. My favorite was the Singapore Fried Rice which was a daily special (on Thursday I think). Sad to see the place go. Maybe they faced increasing competition from Thai Bistro a couple of blocks south.

The Daily News blog also posted a list of possible names that were considered for Bleu, the new restaurant in the Westin. Names that were rejected included Cara, The Gin, Amuse, and Celebrities. I’m not a big fan of focus groups usually, but they did a good job picking Bleu. Most of the other proposed names absolutely suck.

If you’re an SMA member, don’t forget that the monthly meeting is tonight at the Green Beetle. They’re electing officers for 2012 and I have a feeling this will be a rather interesting meeting.

Huge congratulations to Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers. High school senior power forward Shaq Goodwin, one of the top prospects in the nation, announced his decision this morning to play for the U of M.

That’s all for now… time for a Taco Bell run then back to work for the afternoon. Researching the new Google+ pages for businesses today.

Mon update: Big Wheel race on Beale, Peabody Foursquare specials, Memphis wrestling DVD

Sorry there was no lunchtime post. Meetings made my lunchtime schedule rather awkward, so didn’t have a chance to write anything.

There will be a new event on Beale Street later this month. On Saturday, November 26, the Beale Street Merchants Association will present the first ever Big Wheel Race on Beale from 1 to 4 PM. Teams of 4 can enter for a fee of $80; fee includes pre-party, T-shirts, gift bag, and prizes. All proceeds benefit the Angel Tree Foundation of Memphis. Big Wheels will be provided. Space is limited, so if you want to enter, sign up here.

The Peabody has introduced two new checkin specials on Foursquare, the location-based smartphone app that lets you earn badges, mayorships, and discounts when you check in. For Capriccio: “Show your Check-In and receive 25% off your bill. Excludes alcohol, tax, and gratuity. $25 maximum savings. Can not be used in conjunction with any other deal, promotion or event.”

For Corner Bar: “Spend $20 and receive a free Dessert Shooter upon showing your Check-In. Excludes alcohol, tax, and gratuity.” Both specials are unlocked every time you check in.

If you’re a Memphis wrestling fan, you can now buy the DVD of Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’. It’s sold at Shangri-la Records, Booksellers of Laurelwood, ValleĆ­s Italian Rebel, Goner Records, and Tater Red’s. Four hours of vintage wrestling footage from the ’50s through the ’80s.

It’s Monday night, and my plans are the usual: Pint Nite at the Saucer, then poker at the Silly Goose at 10. Heading out now…

Funny Hat Day

One of the more unique events on the Downtown calendar happens today. Come to the window of the Flying Saucer between 1:30 and 4:30 today for Funny Hat Day.

Funny Hat Day is a leftover from the years when the annual COGIC convention was in Memphis. During the first week in November, the streets of Memphis would be filled with ladies wearing big, fluffy, feathery, sequined hats. The Downtowners decided they wanted to join in the fun, and so the first Sunday in November, they’d wear funny hats and gather in the Saucer window. Although the COGIC “saints” received some negative press when they were here, I have to admit they had a great sense of humor about Funny Hat Day. They’d stop to pose for pictures, and at least one Funny Hat Day participant got to go for a ride in a COGIC courtesy car.

The COGIC convention moved to St. Louis in 2010, but Funny Hat Day lives on. Expect to see a colorful array of hats in the window this afternoon. One change for 2011: The Saucer has dropped their 21+ restriction and is now an all-ages venue. So, children are welcome at Funny Hat Day. In particular, be sure to introduce your kids to Robo (third from left in the photo above, in the black hat). He loves children!

For me it will be business as usual this morning. Brunch at the Majestic at 11, then on to the Saucer at 12. I’m conducting an informal poll on Facebook as to which hat I should wear. These are the options:

What a fantastic day yesterday. Watched football at the Saucer and caught up with several old friends, who all happened to be in town the same weekend. My Hogs looked like a Top 10 team for the first time in three weeks, handing #9 South Carolina a loss. Meanwhile, LSU vs. Bama was a defensive showdown. When it went to overtime, I turned to my friend Air Traffic Mike and predicted four overtimes. ATM replied, “No. LSU in one.” He turned out to be right. LSU remains undefeated, and I hope they stay that way until November 25, when they’ve got the Razorbacks. What will happen if the SEC West finishes with three teams in the Top 5, each with one loss to another Top 5 team? Could happen.

Arkansas, by the way, has Tennessee next week. I may have to bring out the Hog Hat for that one.

(And no, the Hog Hat is not an option for Funny Hat Day. That would be blasphemy.)

So anyway, I hung out at the Saucer last night until about 1 AM, then realized Cockadoos was open. (They open at midnight Friday and Saturday.) I chatted with Cherise and enjoyed a Mason jar of Mountain Dew and hashbrowns with ham, cheese, onions, and peppers. When I paid my tab it was coming up on 2 AM. Time to go home, right?


The clock fell back to 1 AM as the time change occurred! So I went back to the Saucer for more beer. The bartenders were THRILLED to get to work the extra hour (it’s hard to communicate sarcasm in a blog post). Finally, at the second 2 AM of the night, I made it home to bed.

All right, time to hit Publish and make a run to City Market. Come out and enjoy Funny Hat Day with us!