A couple of alternatives to Amateur Night, where to get blackeyed peas tomorrow, and Wednesday news including two new Downtown businesses

New Year’s Eve is a holiday I normally don’t get excited about in the least… that is, until an interesting piece of news came across my Facebook news feed a few days ago. One of the Bardog bartenders posted that Bardog will open at 8 AM New Year’s Day. Oooh, now that has a lot of people-watching potential. There will be service industry people just getting off work, having spent hours cleaning their bars that got trashed by Amateur Night partiers. There will be people just getting out of house parties in the neighborhood that carried on late into the night. The hours of 8 to 10 AM tomorrow could be a FUN time at Bardog. I kind of want to be there to see it.

So, here’s what I’m going to do… I’m going to an early dinner friends are throwing at Van Vleet Flats. When they go out, I will go home, and be in bed by 10, getting a full night’s rest in time to be at Bardog at 8. (I’ll probably be briefly awakened by fireworks/gunshots at midnight.) It doesn’t bother me at all that I won’t be awake and out as the calendar rolls over to 2015.

Now, here’s a tip for those who DO want to be out at midnight. Recently I got asked, “Where’s a place Downtown that’s laid-back New Year’s Eve, where I can just go relax and chill with friends?” At the time the question was asked, I had no answer… every place I go in the Downtown core gets ridiculously packed with amateurs. However, I received a tip last night: Go to the Downtown Blue Monkey. They don’t advertise the place as a New Year’s Eve destination, and it’s far enough away from the entertainment district that it’s off the amateurs’ radars. They have a full bar and don’t upcharge drink prices on New Year’s Eve, and their food menu is very good.

On New Year’s Day tomorrow, the Flying Fish will include a side of blackeyed peas for good luck for every person who dines at the restaurant.

Paleo/primal/whole foods business Bedrock Eats has signed a lease for 327 S. Main in the former Frank’s Market and Deli space. If you’re not familiar with the paleo/primal food concept, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of the smothered chili cheeseburger with fries served at Bedrock Eats’ next door neighbor the Green Beetle. They hope to have the doors open by March.

The owner of a vacant building at 72 Madison hopes to put a coffee shop and roastery on the ground floor, and convert the two upper floors into apartments. That building is right across from the Metro 67 apartments at the corner of Center Lane. I had to look it up on Google StreetView; despite living right around the corner for 12 years I didn’t even know that building existed. With the law school and a hotel right down the street, a coffee shop should do really well there.

Memphis restaurant workers can get free flu shots by taking their pay stubs to any Memphis-area Walgreens. More info here.

If you’re interested in learning more about Start Co.’s small business accelerator programs, they are holding a “Stop Dreaming, Start Building” Q&A session on January 15. Details here.

There are some good sales going on at the Peabody right now. For men, Lansky at the Peabody has 40% off select Robert Graham shirts and select sportcoats, and Lansky 126 has 40-90% off select sportshirts. For women, there is 40-75% off select tops, dresses, denim, and shoes. The stores are open until 6 today and will be open 10-6 tomorrow for New Year’s.

The Memphis Tigers are about to tip off against the Houston Cougars at the FedExForum to kick off the regular conference schedule. Cougars pack a mean punch, as some of us learned all too well in 2014, so the Tigers better bring their A-game.

The office is closing at 3, so I will have time to get in a couple of hours of PBR before I go to my friends’ dinner party. See you in 2015 and if you go out tonight, don’t drive drunk and try not to get puked on by the amateurs.

Tuesday news

Great win for my Arkansas Razorbacks in the Texas Bowl last night. Here’s an ESPN article on Arkansas going in one direction, Texas in the other. I agree, the Hogs are looking like a 9+ win team next year and if they can get that 10th win they will be under consideration for a Big Six bowl.

Congratulations to Texas A&M on winning the Liberty Bowl last night. It has been a pleasure getting to know both Aggie and WVU fans this week. The Liberty Bowl has stepped it up to a new level this year.

If you take Second to Beale and then cut over to Riverside to get to work as I do, you’ll need to take a detour. Beale is closed between Second and Main to set up for the Hard Rock New Year’s Eve guitar drop.

From the MBJ: What you need to know if you take an Uber this New Year’s Eve. Uber prices by demand, which means there is an upcharge on nights like NYE when lots of people are requesting rides. I understand why ride-sharing services, parking garages, and bars and clubs upcharge, but this kind of thing is why I stay home on Amateur Night and go out on the 1st when the pros drink. I’m going to a pre-going-out dinner friends of mine are having tomorrow night, but for me it will be a pre-going-home dinner.

Tamp & Tap is doing a New Year’s Day hangover brunch from 9 AM to 5 PM Thursday. Here’s the menu.

The Memphis Flyer is hiring a marketing assistant.

The Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs tonight at FedExForum at 7. Here’s a preview.

Former Memphis Tiger Tarik Black’s NBA career is not over after being let go by Houston to clear room for Josh Smith. The L.A. Lakers have claimed Black off waivers. Speaking of the Tigers, they begin conference play vs. Houston at FedExForum at 1 tomorrow.

Good Twitter account I found today: @memphisscanner. It tweets highlights and lowlights (mostly lowlights) from Memphis police and fire scanners.

Lifehacker has an article on how to open champagne that may come in handy tomorrow night.

That’s today’s news. I’ll be playing poker at the 8 PM game at the Blind Bear tonight.

Day drinking news and more

Good news for day drinkers: It’s usually hard to find any bars open in the Downtown core on New Year’s Day. After big blowout celebrations New Year’s Eve, most bars close for the day and open at 5 PM (or stay closed until January 2). However, bartender Brittany posted yesterday that Bardog Tavern will open at 8 AM on New Year’s Day, its normal opening time for a Thursday. That is excellent because there is a lot of good football on during the day – Outback Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Citrus Bowl – and people will want a place to go and watch with friends. Also, there are a lot of people (including me) who would rather day drink on the 1st than go out for Amateur Night on the 31st.

If you’re looking for suggestions for what to do New Year’s Eve, Holly has a guide including plenty of Downtown spots. Be sure to read the comments for even more suggestions.

The Liberty Bowl is today at 1. I met some really nice West Virginia fans yesterday, and they asked me where to go to hear “some real live Memphis music, not tourist trap stuff.” Looking at the Downtown Memphis website’s calendar, my top pick for tonight would be Brad Birkedahl and the Burnin’ Love Band, at the Blues City Cafe’s Band Box on Beale near Second. They take the stage at 9:30.

Be careful walking around. Two pedestrians were hit by a drunk driver at Second and Peabody Place yesterday.

Mexi-beer news: Saturday I stopped by the Flying Saucer for a beer, and bartender Cassie said, “Paul, don’t kill me.” I asked why I would want to, and she said, “They took Dos Equis Lager off tap.” I asked what they put in its place, and she said, “Modelo Especial.” That’s an even better beer than Dos Equis Lager, and it is rarely seen on tap in Memphis, although the Saucer has had it in bottles for years. I like the change.

I was there with a friend who wanted to work on the 200 beers toward his plate, so I decided to work on my plate too. I decided to knock out the beers that no one really wants to drink, but that you have to, in order to get to 200. When you print out tickets for beers, the Saucer includes a description of the beer so you can learn about it: Ingredients used, flavor descriptions, interesting facts about the beer. Look at the description for Miller Lite:

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And for Bud Light:

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The Chicago Sun-Times has launched local sites for many large cities. I can’t say I’m too impressed with their Memphis site. Check out this article on top wine bars in Memphis. They only managed to find two, and there’s no description of either place, just embedded photos captured from social media. I wonder if they even employ a local writer.

My Arkansas Razorbacks play the Texas Longhorns tonight at 8 in the Texas Bowl. Although both teams are 6-6, I’m optimistic about my Hogs’ chances. Arkansas had several close losses to ranked opposition, whereas Texas suffered several blowout losses including one to the Cougars of BYU who recently lost to Memphis in the Miami Beach Bowl.

That’s it for now. Go Hogs!

Stuff going on tonight, have Mongo as your landlord, go to BBQ school and more Friday news

Tip for anyone with tickets to the Grizzlies game versus Houston tonight at 7 at the FedExForum: Get there early. If you’re one of the first 3000 fans in the arena, you will be given a Grizzlies scarf, always one of the most coveted giveaways of the season.

Also tonight is South Main Trolley Night, where many shops and galleries stay open late into the evening, and several have live music. If you’re a beer lover attending Trolley Night, one stop you will want to make is Cafe Pontotoc. Today, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday, the cafe is having a Beer Bottle Blowout. Most bottles are only $3, with a few $4 bottles, one $2.50 bottle, and high-gravity bottles for $6. The cafe is at 314 S. Main between Pontotoc and Vance, on the northern end of the South Main neighborhood.

I got an email from Prince Mongo this morning that there is a rare opening at one of the “Mongominiums” at 487 S. Main. The apartment is 900 square feet with oversized Jacuzzi and shower stall, and all utilities and appliances are included in the rent of $900 a month. The building is very secure and you would have some really cool neighbors; Mongo is hoping to find someone who is a good fit with his other tenants. You can email him at princemongoformayor@yahoo.com if interested, or if you prefer contact me and I will give you Mongo’s phone number. Mongo closed out his email with “Thanks good Spirit and may the PBR and tube tops be plentiful today and everyday!!!”

The Hungry Memphis blog reports that a BBQ preparation class will be coming to Downtown Memphis in January. Troy Black, who is a nationally known pitmaster and cookbook author, will teach the day-and-a-half long class called Real BBQ Know-How. It will cover selecting your meat, seasoning and prepping it, techniques on different kinds of grills and smokers, and more. Tuition for the class is $250.

Texas A&M and West Virginia fans have started to arrive in town for Monday’s Liberty Bowl game. The Liberty Bowl parade will be this Sunday at 3 on Beale Street, with a pep rally in Handy Park to follow at 5.

St. Louis Cardinals legend Ozzie Smith turns 60 today. Wow. How time flies.

@ESPNSteinLine reports that the Houston Rockets have waived former Memphis Tiger Tarik Black to make room to acquire Josh Smith. They were unable to line up a trade for Black that would work. Hopefully another team will claim him off waivers so he won’t be finished in the NBA.

Thanks to my friends the Bartons for inviting me over for Christmas dinner last night. Our friend Mardoqueo from Monclova, Mexico is in town for the holidays and he cooked authentic Mexican paella with shrimp, crab, clams, sausage, chicken, green beans, peppers, and rice. It was nicely paired with a 2000 bottle of red wine from the Riola region of Spain.

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After dinner my buddy Chad and I talked about video games. We’re about the same age so we played the same games growing up, but he told me about one that I somehow missed – M.U.L.E. It’s a game where you cultivate land on an alien planet, and obtain things you need in the open market. It indirectly teaches you a ton about economics. I was too busy playing Qix, Pengo, Pole Position, Zaxxon, and Dig Dug to notice M.U.L.E. when I was a teenager. If I had kids I would absolutely buy this game for them. The Wikipedia page says it’s available for iOS.

Social media tip for bar managers: Post to your Facebook page whether you are going to be open or closed for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if you’re opening what time. I had people texting me all day long asking if I knew anyplace that would be open on Christmas, and I had a rather incomplete list. Posting to Facebook is free and it only takes half a minute or so. You could be missing out on business by not letting your customers know your schedule!

It’s Boxing Day but I hope no one gets punched in the face tonight. No definite plans for the evening but I’ll be out at the usual places after work. It feels like we just had a weekend but it’s time for another one!

Downtown delivery news

All right, folks. Only one piece of news today (I told ya Christmas would be slow) but it’s pretty darn newsworthy. Yesterday afternoon I was at Bardog Tavern, catching up with my buddy Pete. “Have you ever had food from Little Italy on Union?” he asked.

I told him I had not. Little Italy is in Midtown, on Union somewhere around Kimbrough I believe. With so many good places to eat within walking distance of home, there’s little incentive for me to drive to Midtown to get food. “But they deliver down here,” Pete said. “East Parkway to Downtown.”

That’s a delivery option I did not know about. This morning I found the Italian restaurant’s menu and sure enough, free delivery with minimum $13 purchase, East Parkway to Downtown. Something to keep in mind when you want food at home but don’t feel like cooking.

Merry Christmas everyone. If you’re looking to get out this evening and have a Christmas beverage, Bardog and the Blind Bear are two places that will be open at 5 today. I’m heading over to friends’ condo for an authentic Mexican Christmas dinner in a bit, then will ne out tonight.

Christmas Eve update

If you didn’t follow the weather yesterday, Memphis got real lucky. Right before our office Christmas luncheon, I checked MemphisWeather.net radar. A line of strong thunderstorms appeared to be heading right for Memphis. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be driving home in heavy rain and went and got in line for turkey and ham. We finished lunch, the CEO handed out gifts, and then he told us, “When you’re done eating you can get out of here.”

I went to my desk and grabbed my things, and I looked out the window and it wasn’t raining yet. “I’m going to beat the storm home!” I thought, which is good because I have a phobia of driving in bad weather. I made it home without as much as a drop falling, and looked at the radar again. The storm had gone just east of the city, so close that eastern Shelby County got hit with rain. There was extensive damage in east Mississippi. Memphis dodged a bullet.

The Interview is coming to YouTube, Google Play, and Xbox today. Rental is $6.

The Memphis CVB has put together a Liberty Bowl guide for fans. There are many more events than just the bowl itself.

The Orpheum has a buy one get one free deal for tickets to Cirque Dreams Holidaze December 26-27. Go here to purchase tickets and use discount code TMN241.

Lyft has a form you can fill out to contact City Council, which will soon be voting on a plan to secure ridesharing in Memphis.

Stories like this make me sick: Memphis Animal Services euthanized a dog that was guaranteed adoption. The dog was mistakenly put down because when he was brought in, workers failed to document that the woman who brought him said she would claim him if no one else did.

I’ve had people ask me what restaurants Downtown are open tomorrow. In addition to hotel restauarants, you can always count on Yao’s and Westy’s to be open on holidays.

That’ll do it for now. If there’s any Christmas news to report I will be back tomorrow.


Cougars throwing punches, Tigers swinging helmets and more Tuesday news

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I got to work Friday and found a gift bag in my office chair. I looked inside and there were grill skewers made at the Metal Museum. I didn’t find a card so I didn’t know who to thank, but if you read my blog, thank you! What a thoughtful gift.

Might want to re-think that last-minute trip to West Memphis Wal-Mart to shop. The FBI has received an anonymous tip of a plot to blow up one of Memphis’ Mississippi River bridges. I’ve seen both I-40 and I-55 reported. The FBI stresses that there is “no actionable intelligence” that the plot will actually happen at this time.

The Mad Earl is closed until the early months of next year. Now that Clay has left for Hawaii, the owners have decided to take the bar in a different direction. They have big plans for that block of Madison, from what I’ve been told. Kinda sucks that the employees found themselves out of work right before Christmas, though.

There’s a petition you can sign to bring Google Fiber to Memphis.

What a big month in sports this has been for Memphis. Yesterday the Memphis Tigers came back from a 7-point deficit to beat the BYU Cougars in double overtime at the Miami Beach Bowl. The Tigers scored a touchdown in the second OT, then intercepted a Cougar pass to end the game 55-48. Unfortunately there was a wild post-game brawl involving the players. Video here including a Memphis player swinging his helmet and a Cougar sucker-punching a Memphis player. Radio host @JohnMartin929 tweeted an interesting link: Will this brawl be the end of the BYU football program?

Meanwhile, the basketball Tigers take on Western Illinois at FedExForum tonight at 7.

This Groupon for a Lego subscription looks pretty cool.

Been a long time since my last post… there just isn’t much news to report around Christmas. Last week a friend from Venezuela became a U.S. citizen and we had a citizenship party for her Friday night. On Saturday it was good to meet Andrea, one of my blog readers, at Brad’s bar at the Blind Bear. Shoot me an email or hit me up on Facebook if you want to stay in touch. I always meet interesting people at Brad’s bar. On Sunday, I went to Bluefin for sushi, intending to use the gift card I won at Blind Bear poker… and then I forgot to use the gift card and paid cash. Oops.

Taking the night off from Blind Bear poker but I will most definitely be out for some Festivus drinking. Could be a late night, we will see.

Thursday news

For the first time ever, I’m missing the annual Clark’s Christmas Dinner at the Majestic Grille tonight. They show National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the big screen and there are costume contests for best movie character and best ugly sweater. In past years I had been a contest judge. I hate it that I’m missing it but I forgot what day it was, and by the time they asked me I had already committed to go to the Silly Goose Christmas party.

Content for this week’s Memphis Flyer is now online, including cover story What a Burger featuring 15 notable Memphis burgers. I had no idea South of Beale had a Ramen burger. Apparently they are the latest craze in New York. Another Downtown burger was mentioned in the list too: The Tora Toro burger with ground Ahi tuna from Oshi Burger.

Also from the Flyer: Chef Michael Patrick of Rizzo’s Diner takes the Farmer’s Market Challenge.

If you didn’t get to go to any Continental Wrestling Association shows at the Mid-South Coliseum in 1978, you’re in luck: The match that main-evented most of the 1978 shows is being re-created at a Wild Fire Wrestling show at Minglewood Hall tonight. 65-year-old Jerry “The King” Lawler will take on 71-year-old “Superstar” Bill Dundee. For those of you more interested in seeing young, up-and-coming talent, 42-year-old “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher will wrestle 47-year-old “King of the Mountain” Jeff Jarrett.

High Cotton Brewing at 598 Monroe announced a special Tuesday opening of its taproom next week on December 23 for growler and dock sales, merchandise, and pints to sip on.

If you’re a Wikipedia addict like I am, you’ve seen the header at the top of the page recently begging for money: “If everyone who saw this would contribute $3, this fundraiser would be over in an hour.” MakeUseOf asks, Wikipedia has millions in the bank – why ask for more? Expensive travel, conferences, and downtown San Francisco office space are among the reasons.

As an IT guy I’m fascinated by the story of the SONY hack and the pulling of The Interview from theaters. Security expert Marc Rogers believes North Korea is not behind the attacks and I am inclined to agree. I am also flabbergasted that SONY used plaintext password files. No no no no no. Never. You always encrypt those. SONY made itself an easy target.

The Memphis Tigers football team has departed for Miami Beach, where they will play the BYU Cougars at 1 PM Monday. I wonder if there are any cougar bars in Provo, Utah, home of the Cougars? You know, a place where a 40something Mormon woman can put on makeup and a low-cut tank top and try to meet a 25ish Mormon man with the hope of becoming his third wife.

That 3OT win against the Spurs last night may be the best Grizzlies game I have ever watched. Grizzly Bear Blues has a recap of the game and Bleacher Report explains why this year may be different for the Grizzlies.

Time to hit Publish, work for a few more hours, then head to the Silly Goose for happy hour followed by its Christmas party. I guess this is a chance to put on my Santa hat probably for the only time in 2014. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday news including good news for those who like Cuban cigars

In case you haven’t been following the news today, the U.S. is taking steps to normalize its relationship with Cuba. What this means to you and me is that travelers to Cuba will be able to bring back rum and cigars.

Photo Dec 17, 12 03 37 AMLast night I went to Clay from the Mad Earl’s going-away party. After two years running the Mad Earl, Clay has accepted a dream job in Maui. Congratulations Clay on getting to live your dream, and thanks for the PBRs last night.

I got there late and missed the Master Chef Junior watch party (won by local Memphis kid Logan Guleff), but I did get there in time for Burlesque Bingo – well, minus the “bingo” part of it because there just wasn’t enough room to run it. Now that I’ve seen what happens, though, believe me, Burlesque Bingo is a must-see. It happens every Thursday at the Earl at 8 PM.

If you feel like watching Shaq Goodwin sit on a bench in foul trouble for most of 40 minutes, you’re in for a treat tonight: The Memphis Tigers host USC Upstate at the FedExForum at 7.

Meanwhile, over at the Flying Saucer, the annual “Yule Fuel” glass goes on sale tonight, also at 7. Santa has a big package for you!

Speaking of dirty Santas, Santa will make an appearance at the Silly Goose Christmas party tomorrow night. Breaking Jazz will kick it off at 9 and DJ Cody starts spinning the tunes at 11. The flyer for the party says “dress to impress.” Jerry Lawler wore a T-shirt with a Christmas sweater and tie printed on it at a recent TV appearance. I need that shirt for tomorrow’s party.

The Blind Bear is having its third birthday party on Sunday. Party will begin at 6. There will be poker as usual, with the Michael Brothers playing live music after poker. There will be drink specials as well.

Buy local for Christmas: MemphisWeather.net is now selling its 2015 calendar. With the purchase comes a free MWN iPhone or iPad app.

That’s it for now. Out at the usual spots after work.

Big Grizzlies game tonight, plus Tuesday news

In case you missed my evening post last night, there’s a Festivus celebration tonight at the Mad Earl that will also include Clay’s goodbye party, Master Chef Junior watch party, and Burlesque Bingo with a ukulele performance. Last night I ran into the burlesque dancer who performs during bingo and she said the bingo portion of the evening will not begin until after 10. Also, Clay messaged me this morning that they’re going to do poker at 10 as well.

The Grizzlies play a huge home game tonight, against the team with the best record in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. The game starts at 7 and will be nationally televised by ESPN. Prior to the game, there will be live music in the lobby by Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith.

Wiseacre Brewery on Broad Avenue is having a rare Tuesday opening of its taproom which will be a game-watching party on their new projector. The taproom will open at 4 and close when the game ends.

Yes, there really are people this stupid: Airline passenger uses emergency slide to “get off the plane quicker.” He said he didn’t pay attention during the pre-flight briefing on emergency procedures, and therefore didn’t know the side door/slide was for emergencies only. It cost $16,000 to reset the slide.

Trace Adkins performs his 2014 Christmas show tonight at the Orpheum at 8.

Confirmed: IKEA is coming to Memphis. It will create 225 jobs and the store will hire 500 for the construction phase.

The 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have been announced, and my “DAWG” John D will not be happy that The Smiths got snubbed.

Tickets are on sale for the 2015 Memphis Brewfest at AutoZone Park.

Most likely I will take a night off from Blind Bear poker (although I will stop by for a little while) and check out the Mad Earl event. Clay told me “I’ll buy you a few¬†PBRs” which is music to my ears. Besides, I’ve never been to a Festivus celebration before. This has the potential to be an interesting event. See you tonight if you’re going.