Tuesday update from “Mr. Load-in”: Flight banquet space, Cafe Keough, Spaghetti Warehouse, restaurant consulting company, Santa Maria found and of course a recap of load-in Monday

Believe it or not, there was a BBQ team assignment today that “Mr. Load-in” turned down. I know that will surprise many of you, who think of me as someone who’s always ready to jump in and get his hands dirty doing work for the team. This morning’s assignment, however, did not appeal to me in the least. They needed people to go pick up food at the nearest Piggly Wiggly, which a location search revealed to be in Olive Branch. Nope. Absolutely no interest in spending even one minute of my vacation in suburbia. I will continue to be available for team assignments at the Flying Saucer or wherever else I am needed.

Let’s get on to today’s news and then maybe we’ll come back and talk BBQ some more. The Flyer has a good article about The Wine Cellar, the downstairs room of Flight that has been renovated into banquet space. The space can fit a small party of 15 to 20 or a large party of 100, and can handle wedding ceremonies or other types of celebration. They have a large wine menu, hors d’oeuvres, and a $59 per person menu from which guests can select from one of three entrees.

norococo has an excellent post about Cafe Keough, with beautiful photos of the food, the drinks, and the space. Check it out here.

If you like to eat at Spaghetti Warehouse, check out this Groupon which will get you $20 worth of food for $12.

Jeff Johnson, owner of Local Gastropub, has teamed up with a designer and a branding expert to start a new restaurant consulting firm.

In the news: The remains of the Santa Maria may have been found. The ship sank in 1492.

The forecast for tomorrow absolutely sucks. After a week in the upper 80s, tomorrow the high will be only 67 according to the MemphisWeather.net forecast. The winds will shift to the northwest and the low will be 50. Ouch. The PBR hoodie may have to come with me to Friends & Family Night tomorrow. The weather this week does not bode well for tube top watching, which is a shame because Tube Top Month starts in 10 days and I have almost no pictures as of yet.

Yesterday I spent most of the day holding down the fort for the BBQ team at the Flying Saucer. My teammate Kao from Monclova, Mexico joined me. Between the two of us we took care of things at the Saucer. What we do for the team is so important that even the team vice-president stopped by briefly to check on us. We determined that we have more plates on the wall than any other BBQ team, a total of 37 combined. Do we get a trophy for that?

Our work wasn’t done when we left the Saucer, though. Every Monday some of the team leaders of Squeal Street BBQ go visit Melissa at Bardog for her happy hour shift. How bad would it look if the Moody Ques did not also send representation? So Kao and I headed that way. I ate a slider on behalf of the BBQ team.

We went back to the Saucer about 6, concerned that something might have come up that we needed to handle while we were away. However, things were in perfect running order, so we walked over to the Silly Goose, where our team vice-president had been hanging out all afternoon. We gave him a full report of our day’s activities.

I did have to handle one thing at the end of the day, though. I walked over to our team sponsor the Blind Bear to see if everything was in order, and discovered that there was way too much PBR in the refrigerator. “Daniel, let me help you get this under control,” I told the bartender. Thanks to my hard work I soon had the number of PBR cans down to an acceptable level. I will keep an eye on things this week and will jump in to help more if needed.

My friends at Squeal Street BBQ posted a photo of many, many cases of beer on the back of a trailer this morning, commenting that it is the most important part of load-in. Nice to see that “well, you know…” will have plenty of beer to drink as he stands at Squeal Street’s bar all day, in everyone’s way, like he did last year. The last thing you need in a 10 x 10 booth is someone who takes up a lot of space and who lacks the self-awareness to get out of the damn way. Come to think of it, that’s also the last thing you need in a 25 x 40 booth.

Right now I’m watching an isolated storm cell on the radar that just crossed into Shelby County. I am using Facebook to inform my teammates at the park of its location. Just another valuable service “Mr. Load-in” provides to the team.

I’m also watching the WWE Network some more to support the BBQ team. My teammate Nick is also on the Network and I want to be able to provide suggestions for shows for him to watch.

All right. Time to go check what the Fire Sale is so I can give the BBQ team a report. Happy Load-in Tuesday everyone!

Read the Nuh-Uh Girl’s new wine blog

nuhuh-photoforblogWhen we last checked in with the Nuh-Uh Girl, she had moved to California to go to school to become a sommelier. Two months later, as a wine student she has started her own blog: Eat Drink and Whine. You can keep up with all her wine adventures there. Not surprisingly, the very first post I read talked about her mooching some sweetbreads from another student. Some people never change.

At the behest of Otto I finally got this blog upgraded to WordPress 3.9. We will be using WordPress’s enhanced photo gallery capabilities for this year’ BBQ Fest photo albums, rather than using Facebook as in years past which presented problems for people not on Facebook. The official team website is also using 3.9 so I will probably do the gallery there except for any NSFW photos which I will save for my own blog.

Productive day yesterday. After writing the BBQ Fest load-in theme song, I had a key meeting with team president Moody at Bardog at 11. Moody lives in my building and we discussed how we both have clothes dryers that squeak. After that I held down the fort at the Saucer for a while, ate some Aldo’s Pizza, took a nap, more holding down the fort at the Saucer, and then our sponsor Blind Bear where I did some more product sampling of this “Fireball” thing which is going to be in our booth.

I did come up with one idea: I think Saturday through Tuesday preceding BBQ Fest should be named “Load-in Fest” and given equal status to that of Music Fest, BBQ Fest and Sunset Symphony. The way I see it, load-in for BBQ Fest is as much fun as BBQ Fest itself. I will propose the idea to one of our sponsors who sits on the Memphis in May board this week.

Big day today. I’m going to represent the Moody Ques at Pint Nite at the Flying Saucer, which kicks off at 11 AM today. Mid-afternoon I plan on giving a live performance of the load-in theme song at the team booth. I’ve been given permission to leave my command center for a few minutes to come to Tom Lee Park. Very excited about that. There may be a nap on this afternoon’s agenda as well.

Time to hit Publish and get going. They don’t call me “Mr. Load-in” for nothing. Much to do.

The BBQ Fest Load-in Theme Song

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With cookers unloading
And the scaffolding
And Natty Light beer…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The carpet we’re laying
For ice we are paying
For warm kegs we fear
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

There’s forklifts and trucks
It may rain, and that sucks
But we have to be here…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Porta-potties are green
Staple guns and Visqueen
Put the fridge in the rear…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Paul “Mr. Load-in” Ryburn, the uncrowned mayor of Tom Lee Park

Yesterday was the first day of load-in for BBQ Fest, when teams erect their tents and scaffolding, move cooking equipment in, and lay down carpet. It is a day I eagerly anticipate, for it is a day when I get much done for the BBQ team. Here is a recap of my activities yesterday. I hope this will be an insightful look at what being a BBQ team member is all about.

I started the morning by watching the WWE Network to conduct some research for the BBQ team. There’s a new character named Adam Rose who debuted on WWE Monday Night Raw on Cinco de Mayo. “Simply put, where Adam Rose goes, the party follows,” reads Rose’s bio on the WWE website. His outlook on life is that it’s a party 24/7 and he advises his entourage “don’t be a lemon, be a rosebud.” I wanted to watch some of his matches, and particularly his ring entrances and interviews, to get ideas on how to bring a similar party atmosphere to the team booth. One of Rose’s followers is a man in a full bunny suit. We need a bunny.

(Fast-forward to about 1:51 to see the bunny)

Meanwhile, our team vice-president Clay was picking up a U-Haul van to go get our new commercial refrigerator. He posted a photo of the van’s interior to Facebook, and in a show of team unity, I “Liked” the photo. Even if I can’t be physically present, I can still be a part of things, thanks to social media. How did we ever even have a BBQ team before Facebook?

While on Facebook, I invited the pig from the GEICO commercials to be our guest at BBQ Fest this year. “We have a special VIP area waiting just for you,” I told him. “And if the lows dip into the 50s on Thursday and Friday, you have nothing to worry about. Where you’ll be, you will be nice and warm. Very very warm.” See, this is one of the contributions I make to the team, getting celebrities to come to our booth.

At 11 I had a very important meeting with BBQ teammate John D. I hate it that I couldn’t reschedule the meeting and join Clay on the U-Haul, but this is crunch time and you have to work things out the best you can, and accept the fact that it’s not always the ideal situation. In any event, John D’s input as to the direction of the team is most valuable and I could not pass up an opportunity to hear any pearls of wisdom he had to share. We selected the bar at Bardog as our meeting room and spent an hour and a half discussing the team. Of course, since the meeting happened to take place at a bar, I had a couple of PBRs.

The John D meeting wrapped up around 12:30. “Okay, now I can head down to the park and roll up my sleeves and get to work,” I thought. Not so fast. I got on Facebook and saw that another BBQ teammate, AnnMarie, had requested a meeting at the Blind Bear. Now, the thing is, AnnMarie is a relatively new team member, this being only her second year. Not being a grizzled veteran of BBQ Fest like many of us on the team, I was very interested to hear her perspective on how things were going. Also, I’m all about supporting the Blind Bear, which of course is our team sponsor. So I just accepted the fact that I wouldn’t get down to Tom Lee Park for a couple more hours, at least.

When I got to the Bear, my teammates Clay and Jamie were there, having delivered the commercial refrigerator to our team’s spot in the park. “That’s awesome, guys,” I said, giving my teammates a pep talk. “With our core values of HARD WORK and TEAMWORK, there is truly nothing we can’t accomplish.” So much positive energy on this team. It’s wonderful.

While I was waiting on AnnMarie to arrive I did a little product research. We have arranged for a rep for a liquor called “Fireball” to be in our booth. I figured I needed to know what this product was, so that I can give a full report to the team. Fortunately, the Blind Bear carried it.

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As a kid, I remember buying boxes of Atomic Fire Ball candy, which was cinnamon-flavored candy balls that were so hot I could barely keep them in my mouth. Fireball the liquor is a cinnamon whiskey with a taste reminiscent of the candy. It is served chilled, in a shot glass. It is 66 proof, lower in alcohol than most whiskeys. Fireball originated in Canada and I am told it has become wildly popular in the United States in the past two years. Taste was delicious. I would definitely order this product in the future and I think the team has made a good move by inviting the Fireball rep to our booth.

AnnMarie arrived and asked if I had heard of Seco Herrerano, the national alcoholic beverage of Panama, the honored country of Memphis in May in 2014. Indeed I had not. It is a clear, 70-proof liquor that is distilled from sugarcane. It can be consumed straight, or mixed. Many Panamanians mix it with milk or coconut milk. I realized that I should have brought my iPad to the Bear so I could take notes, but I didn’t so AnnMarie wrote it on a napkin. Maybe we can find some and serve it to the judges along with our championship shoulder. Now, see this illustrates that you have to go with the flow during BBQ Fest. If I had stuck to my plan of going straight to the park and working on building the booth, I would not have learned about Seco Herrerano. Flexibility is a necessary trait if you’re going to be on a BBQ team.

Two of AnnMarie’s friends arrived, and they invited me to come to Brewery Untapped with them. This sounded like a fantastic idea for two reasons. For one, the brewery is only about a block away from the team booth in Tom Lee Park. If I can’t be physically in the booth, I reasoned, I can feel a sense of team unity by being near the booth. The only real difference would be that I would be holding a delicious craft beer in my hand instead of a hammer. Secondly, I thought it was important that the Moody Ques have a representative at this awesome community event. With my team T-shirt on, I could serve as team ambassador to Untapped. I’ve always thought I’d make an awesome ambassador. Perhaps I will be appointed U.S. ambassador to Romania someday.

We stayed at Untapped until about sunset, and I enjoyed several Abita Strawberry beers. On the wall there was a board where you could write what you liked best about Untapped.

2014-05-10 18.26.48


I left a response:

2014-05-10 18.27.00


As the sun set I told AnnMarie and her friends, “I’ve really enjoyed it, but I need to get over to the park and do some work.”

“Wait,” they replied, “aren’t you supposed to be holding down the fort at the Flying Saucer?”

I was stunned. I had completely forgotten my core team responsibility. As I have explained before, it is paramount that during load-in, one member of the team stays behind at the Flying Saucer to handle anything that comes up there. Here it was after 8 PM and I hadn’t made it to the Saucer yet. I rushed up there. Good luck smiled upon me and nothing had come up there that required my presence. Still, I felt like I had let the team down. I will try to do better today.

Plans for today: I woke up raring to go at 5 in the morning, unable to sleep because I was so excited about getting down to the park and helping. But my dreams were shattered: The team won’t be ready to do load-in until early afternoon. Since I have several hours of free time, I’m going to work on a project that I’ve been bouncing around in the back of my head for a while: I’m going to write a Moody Ques load-in theme song. If I can just get the lyrics on paper, perhaps I can get a well-known singer to record it. I’m thinking maybe Kermit the Frog.

That’ll wrap it up for this post. As Tony Allen would say, time to grind.

BBQ Fest load-in begins: There is no “I” in “team”

Today was supposed to be my favorite day of the year, BBQ team load-in day at Tom Lee Park. However, plans have changed. The scaffolding company erecting our booth needs today to put the floor in. So, tomorrow we will lay the carpet and pick up supplies from the team’s storage locker. Monday we will do the main load-in.

The only real work today is that the team needed a few people to ride out to Dexter Road and pick up our new commercial refrigerator. Of course, as soon as I found out about that opportunity, I raised my hand, only to have my request denied.

“Oh, come on,” I protested. “I never get to have any fun. Lifting a heavy refrigerator into the bed of a pickup truck sounds like an ideal way to spend my Saturday. And you know how much I love Cordova!”

“Absolutely not,” replied the team leaders. “Your contributions to the team are way too valuable for us to let you leave Downtown on Saturday. What if some urgent team business comes up Downtown, and you’re not at the Flying Saucer holding down the fort, where you can deal with it immediately?”

I see their point, I guess. But I really would have liked to get my hands on that refrigerator. And I have to admit I had a hidden agenda: Since we would be in Cordova, I was hoping we could stop by Applebee’s before or after the pickup. Their new Taste of Summer menu sounds absolutely divine!

Seriously, though, I have done valuable work for the team already. Yesterday an email went out about the revised load-in schedule. Curious if anyone new had joined at the last minute, I expanded the To: field in Gmail to see who the recipients were. I discovered that they had used an old list, and that about 10 people who I knew were on the team had not received the email. I texted those whose phone numbers I had, and notified the team leaders, who corrected the problem. At least one person told me she would have been pissed if she’d gone to the park at 7:30 this morning and there was nothing to do. This kind of valuable attention to detail that I provide is part of the reason the team can’t risk me leaving Downtown this morning.

My BBQ Fest vacation has begun, and I will not be back at work until a week from Monday. There will still be plenty of blog posts but they will be on a “here and there when I get to it” basis than a schedule. Thursday through Sunday there will be BBQ Fest recaps.

In the news, the Redbirds are back in town with a 6:05 game tonight followed by fireworks. Former Cardinal Tommy Herr will be on hand to sign autographs. I remember seeing him play with the AA Arkansas Travelers when I was a little kid. Tomorrow there will be a Mother’s Day brunch at the ballpark where you can get brunch and a club-level ticket for $42. Visit the team website for more information. This week’s homestand is absolutely loaded with giveaways and promotions.

The Daily News reports that work has begun on the Blues Hall of Fame at 421 South Main.

More South Main news from the Flyer: Marisol tributes appear on South Main

Don’t forget about the Tunes for Tupelo Relief concert tonight at the Green Beetle. 6:30 start time.

Tube top mama nearly six feet tall, she is the fox of the shopping mall.

All right, time to publish this and let my day of HARD WORK for the BBQ team begin. The phone is already ringing off the hook with team members needing me to take care of stuff Downtown, people asking for guest wristbands, people on other teams asking for advice. I have got to get out of this apartment by 11 though because I have to do some research on a product that will be handed out in our booth. The team can expect a full report tomorrow.

New restaurant serving nachos and bi bim bop, and tons more news

Finally, there’s a restaurant Downtown that serves bi bim bop, the Korean dish in a bowl that is topped with a fried egg. I was walking through the lobby of my building and I noticed a menu for a new restaurant called Nacho’s, at 150 Jefferson. I believe that would be the old China Restaurant location, about a quarter block east of Second.

In addition to bi bim bop, Nacho’s serves (not surprisingly) several forms of nachos, as well as sandwiches, wraps, dips, salads, and a quesadilla. For breakfast they have build-your-own sandwiches as well as several plates including a Korean omelet plate. The hours were not listed on the menu, but from looking at it, the restaurant appears to be open for breakfast and lunch only. With little residential within a block walk, and off the beaten path for tourists, opening for dinner would be a stretch.

Brewery Untapped has re-opened for the weekend at the Tennessee Brewery. There’s free parking in the grassy lot across the street, while it lasts. Live music this weekend includes Den of Strings Friday at 5 PM and Jeff Hulett and Brad Davis at 6 PM. Performances will be on the courtyard stage, moved into the bar room if it rains. The Bikesmith Truck will offer bike repair and bike valet service Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7. As always, there will be food trucks, local and regional beer, and a game room.

Want to be a model for the Memphis Flyer’s annual fashion issue? There will be a casting call for the issue at tonight’s Peabody rooftop party. The Super 5 will provide the live music. $10 admission, with ladies and hotel guests free until 7 PM. Admission includes a buffet of grilled cheese, potato chips and dill pickle. Those in VIP will have a second buffet of turkey panini sandwiches, Rotel dip, mozzarella bocconcini, and grape tomato skewers.

Also tonight, don’t forget that there’s poker at Cafe Keough tonight at 8. Free to play. Great sandwiches.

Belly Dancers will perform at the Rumba Room tomorrow, May 10, which is World Belly Dance Day, from 7 to 9 PM. This is a ticketed performance to raise money for the Family Safety Center. Tickets are $18 at the door or $12 if purchased in advance at memphisbellydance.com.

There’s exciting news about our BBQ team sponsor Start Co. Mara Lewis, who started her first business while in college, and who has launched three successful startups in San Francisco, has been named managing director of Start Co. She started out there as entrepreneur-in-residence, and then became director of Upstart, an accelerator for woman-owned businesses. She’s said to be excited about all the innovation going on in the city, particularly with regard to women and minorities. Mara, I hope to meet you in the Moody Ques team booth next week!

Speaking of the BBQ team: We are set for load-in at 7:30 AM Saturday at Tom Lee Park, although that time may vary a little due to weather and scaffolding. All team members who have not been given an alternate assignment on Saturday are asked to be there, to help with things like furniture, carpet, and decor. Food and drinks will be provided. As usual, I have been assigned to hold down the fort at the Flying Saucer and handle anything that comes up there while the team is in the park constructing the booth.

More BBQ team news: We have a team of very accomplished artists who will be painting the facade of the team booth this year. You’ll have to wait until BBQ Fest to see it, but like last year, it’s a concept that representatives from the host country will immediately recognize.

Also, representatives from Fireball will be in our booth handing out samples of the product. They’ll be handing out samples throughout the park, but have asked to use our booth as a home base of sorts. OK with us!

Over in Arkansas, traffic was stopped on I-30 by a massive pig. I wonder if the pig was trying to hitch a ride to BBQ Fest.

Only an afternoon and a day stand between me and my BBQ Fest vacation. Can’t wait. Time to knock out some work and then enjoy some $1.50 happy hour PBRs at the Silly Goose. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wed update: MemMobile, 1960s British Invasion band in Court Square, Robert Graham trunk show, Beale Street Landing, MATA security guard arrested, truck hits bridge

A new program will celebrate the launch of mobile retail business in Memphis tomorrow. It will be called MemMobile and it will happen on the Civic Center plaza. Among the mobile businesses will be Sache T-Shirt Truck, Henny Penny, Thigh High Jeans, BIKE Truck, and K’Presha: A Haul of Fashion. Food trucks A Square Meal on Wheels and Mark’s Grill will be on hand too.

1960s British Invasion cover band Jeffrey and the Pacemakers will play Court Square Friday, May 9 from 11:30 AM to 1 PM. These guys are very accomplished musicians and their performances are filled with not only music but stories about the era. Worth checking out if you work Downtown.

There will be a Robert Graham trunk show Saturday from 11 to 5 at Lansky at the Peabody. You’ll be able to shop the Spring 2014 line and preview the Fall 2014 line. Spend $250 in-store and you’ll get a free pair of Robert Graham jeans, while supplies last. You’ll also be entered to win an autographed shirt from designer Robert Stock.

WREG has an article, Beale Street Landing: Where the Money Went. The landing has taken 10 years to build and still isn’t done. It has cost $43 million, way over the original budget. When I read “where the money went” I hear a flushing sound.

In case you missed it: A MATA security guard was arrested for aggravated assault after allegedly pushing a 68-year-old man. Fabulous publicity for one of the worst large-city public transportation systems in the United States.

WREG has pics of a Yuengling truck that hit the bridge at Front and Nettleton. Trucks that are too tall hit this bridge all the time, despite its height being posted.

We had a great time handing out BBQ team bags on the patio of our sponsor the Blind Bear yesterday evening. About 12 of us showed up and enjoyed drinks on the patio and caught up on prep for BBQ Fest next week. Things are starting to get very exciting.

That’ll do it for now. Will be back tomorrow (or possibly this evening) with more news.

Tue update: Moody Ques news, pop-up vacation, Greek Fest Groupon, Grizzlies save Iowa basketball

The last remaining element of our BBQ team packets came in yesterday. I ran into the team president on the Main Street Mall and she handed me a rubber team wristband, used to show the doorman that you are indeed a team member:

Photo May 05, 7 03 06 PM

The team bags are now ready for members to pick them up. They will be at our sponsor the Blind Bear beginning at 5 PM today. The Bear is open 5 PM-3 AM Monday-Friday, 12 noon-3 AM Friday and Saturday.

There are pics of the Tennessee Brewery and Schweinehaus on the Memphis Que blog. Schweinehaus is being opened on Overton Square by Chef David Scott Walker, pitmaster of our BBQ team, and his family.

There will be a pop-up vacation in Court Square tomorrow from 11 AM to 2:30 PM. You’ll be able to experience a mini-vacation during your lunch break, with a putting green, a Metal Museum forge, mascots from local sports teams, an Elvis tribute artist, and more. The Peabody will fill the square’s fountain with hundreds of rubber ducks. The event is designed to show the importance of travel and tourism on jobs in Memphis.

This isn’t a Downtown event, but a lot of Downtowners like to visit the Greek festival that happens in Memphis this weekend. There’s a Groupon for discounted tickets going on right now.

The Grizzlies have saved basketball in Des Moines by signing an affiliation with the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League. Four teams were interested in an affiliation with the Energy, but only the Grizzlies wanted to keep the team in Iowa.

I’m going to change things up and lead off at Blind Bear tonight and hang out with whichever BBQ teammates show up. There’s poker there at 8 but I am going to take a hiatus playing until after BBQ Fest. Three more work days until vacation time!

Mon update: Couple of Saturday events, couple of Cinco de Mayo specials, fake Prince Harry

Before I head out to Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to do a quick post about a couple of events that are happening this coming Saturday, May 10.

There will be a firefighter appreciation cookout to celebrate our local firefighters that day from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. It will be at the South Main fire station, at the corner of Butler. It will be a family-friendly event. Of course, you could always come to South Main a little early and hit the Memphis Farmers Market first.

Later that day, there will be a Tunes for Tupelo tornado relief concert at the Green Beetle. Live music acts will include Bryan Hayes and the Retrievers, Rice Drewry, Chelsea Chandler, The Sojourners, and Shelley Brown. A $10 donation is suggested, with $7 of that going to CREATE, Northeast Mississippi’s community foundation, to help victims of last week’s tornadoes in Tupelo, Mississippi.

From Inside Edition: Fake Price Harry dupes and entire city

All right, on my way out for Cinco de Mayo. I haven’t been paying real close attention but I have heard about two Downtown specials: Silly Goose will have $3 margaritas, $5 tacos, and $7 Mexican flatbread pizza. Local will have $2 margaritas and $2 tacos. As for me, I’m going to lead off at Bardog for Monday with Melissa, Possibly a margarita at the Goose later.