An impassioned plea to the operators of the Oshi pop-up restaurant this past weekend

This past weekend Oshi re-opened on a pop-up basis, for the weekend only, at their location at Main and Barboro Alley. No longer a burger bar, they served Asian fusion cuisine including pho and ramen. Their plan, as I understand it, is to do another pop-up weekend in July, and then if they feel that the concept could be a success in Downtown Memphis, to tweak the menu and open on a permanent basis in August.

I must admit, I didn’t make it to the pop-up restaurant last weekend. BBQ Fest load-in weekend is always a weird one, and also when our friend Tony organized a group dinner my contact info apparently disappeared on his phone. But I want you to know, if we had a restaurant Downtown serving pho and ramen, I would easily eat there at least a couple of times a week.

I love pho but there isn’t a convenient way for me to get it without a car being involved. In all my years Downtown there has never been a place that has served it. The only place kinda sorta near where I work that served pho is no longer there. As for ramen, I had my 2015 birthday party at Robata. That’s another place I would eat a couple of times a week, if I could just walk there.

So, I’d like to make a plea to the people behind Oshi: Please, please, please make this concept happen. It is badly needed and will fill a void in Downtown dining options.

It’s Monday and I’m not in a cubicle! I went home early with Aldo’s Pizza last night, ate and then got in bed. I woke up at 1:52. The good thing about waking up at 1:52 Downtown is that there are 68 drinking minutes left at the bar down the street! I put my T-shirt and shorts back on and made the trek to the Blind Bear. My favorite pair of librarian glasses posed for a photo with Perjorie, my troll:

Earlier in the weekend we had a Panda and Perjorie moment at Bardog.

Anyway, in those 68 minutes (minus probably 5 to get dressed and walk to the bar) I managed to put away 2 PBRs and 3 Fireballs. Not bad for such a late hour!

There will be more troll photos coming this week. I have big plans.

Insider tip for you: There’s an opportunity to steal a cornhole tournament at Memphis Made this Saturday from 2 to 4. Bad Shane and Fireball Joe, normally the odds-on favorites to win any cornhole tournament held in Memphis, will be busy at Tom Lee Park. Someone’s got a chance to swoop in and grab that $50 first-place gift certificate. There are second and third place prizes as well.

Come early to the Redbirds game tonight to see the Shelby County Sheriff’s office play the Memphis Police Department in a softball game. The game will be played in memory of fallen officers, and the first pitch will be dropped from a helicopter and retrieved by a K-9 officer. Following that game the Redbirds play Albuquerque at 6:35.

One more reminder to keep an eye on the news this week. A little over 25 years ago, a racketeering/organized crime statute called RICO sent mob bosses John Gotti, Vincent “Chin” Gigante, and Tony “Ducks” Corallo to prison. We’re going to hear more about RICO in the days and weeks to come.

I’ll tell ya another thing that’s great about Downtown: I live around the corner from a bar that opens at 8 AM on weekdays, with my neighbor bartending on Mondays! On my way to Bardog to drink a little PBR and play the jukebox. Team, if I need to head down to the park, text me. Back tomorrow with more news.

Sunday update

Check out the new statue of legendary Memphis musician Bobby “Blue” Bland. It’s at the northeast corner of South Main and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue.

Got a neat job opportunity to tell you about this morning. Green Girl Produce, a vertical hydroponic farm at 516 Tennessee Street, is looking to hire two part-time (20 hour/week) positions that have the potential to grow into something more. If you have a passion for farming, environmental sustainability, health and nutrition, and eating local, they would like to talk to you. They are hiring a Grow Master and a Farm Liaison. More details and how to apply here.

Here’s the Downtown Flying Saucer’s new burger-centric menu. I talked to Owen, one of the managers there, the other day, and he says that on weekdays the kitchen stays open until midnight. I will definitely be stopping by and getting a burger to go in the weeks to come. The Terlingua sounds like it will be my go-to burger. I love a good burger with chili on top. The Sputnik Monroe sounds like one I will try as well, and the Gobble Me when I am in the mood for a turkey burger.

After spreading a little sunshine at the Farmers Market and Earnestine & Hazel’s yesterday morning, I wandered north to my usual Saturday spot Bardog Tavern. They have locally-distilled Old Dominick at the bar now.

There will be a giant beer pong tournament Thursday, May 25 at Loflin Yard. $20 to enter a two-person team with the money raised benefiting St. Jude. Pint glasses and prizes will be provided, and there will be a Ballast Point Brewing tap takeover.


The Memphis Medical Center District will have its annual meetup at Premiere Palace. 629 Monroe, Tuesday, May 23 6:00-7:30 PM. Hear about accomplishments of the past year and plans for the year ahead. There will be wine, beer by High Cotton, and food by Evelyn and Olive.

Each member of the 2016 Life Champions the Tennessee Vols men’s powder puff football team is receiving two “championship” rings for its miracle 9-4 season. One is for the “Battle of Bristol” win over Virginia Tech, and the other is for their Music City Bowl victory. This is so UT and so perfectly illustrates why Butch Jones is the perfect coach for that band of clowns. I bet UT fans are looking at pictures of those two rings and choking their chicken right about now. (I’m using “choking their chicken” as a metaphor for masturbation, but given UT’s hillbilly fan base, they may literally be choking their chicken as well.)

Bet someone at the Knox County branch of Josten’s is receiving a phat bonus check this week…

I do have to give a tip of the hat to UT fans’ generosity, though. On Sunday, October 30 of last year, they made a donation of hundreds of WE BEAT SOUTH CAROLINA shirts to the local homeless shelter.

Recently re-opened Senses Nightclub may be in trouble for a zoning violation. That area is not currently zoned for a nightclub and since they were closed for more than 365 days, they cannot be considered grandfathered in.

Random Facebook fun from yesterday: One person is really looking forward to her high school reunion!

That’s the news for today. If any of my Moody Ques teammates feel like meeting up, I will be at D-RANKS with B-RAD at Blind Bear at 11 this morning, then mid-afternoon I will walk over to Tom Lee Park to see what needs to be done in the booth. With Monday off tomorrow, I plan on going a little bit late into the night. Back tomorrow with more news.



Saturday update

‘Scuse the brevity and any typos in posts the next eight days. During BBQ Fest week I am always in a time crunch.

There are dragon boat races on the mighty Mississippi today starting at 8:30. The event benefits St. Jude.

There’s a local music festival at Downtown Elementary today from noon to 11 PM presented by Brinson’s and a bunch of other people.

It’s a game-themed night at the Redbirds this evening, with GameTruck Memphis set up so fans can play video games. The band PXLS will play classic video game music at the plaza party prior to the game. As always, fireworks after the game on Saturdays. Gates open at 5, first pitch 6:35.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus LIVE! is at the Halloran Centre tonight.

All right. That’s all the time I have for now. Off to the Farmers Market then over to Earnestine & Hazel’s to spread a little sunshine.

Quick post

Hey everyone, really not much of a post today, sorry. I’ve had my mind on other things besides Downtown news as I prepare to be off a week for BBQ Fest.

I do have one piece of advice for other BBQ teams. People like me who take off the whole week tend to live like we’re on another planet, a planet of staple guns, Visqueen, forklifts, Natty Light, scaffolding, and charcoal. We tend to miss any news that happens.

Don’t do that next week. Next week could be the most significant week in national news in over 40 years. Put some good news sources on your Twitter feed and check it periodically.

I may be taking a week vacation from a company that sanctions a card game… but we could all be playing in notrump pretty soon.

I’m not taking a vacation from this blog though, so check back.

BBQ Fest 2008: It’s always darkest before the dawn

2007 was the first year for The Ques Brothers, the team that was the predecessor to my team The Moody Ques. One of our teammates worked for Terex at the time and arranged a generous sponsorship. We had a large, two story booth wrapped in an image of Terex equipment. There was plenty of food, plenty of booze, everyone had a good time and we all agreed that we wanted there to be a second year.

However, 2008 would have its challenges.

For one thing, our teammate with the Terex connection had moved on to another company. Also, Memphis in May created a new rule that sponsor signs on the outside of booths had to fit certain measurements; as a result, the Terex wrap became illegal. For those reasons, Terex decided not to return as a sponsor. We arranged a small sponsorship with Downtown restaurant Circa by John Bragg, but we could not find a presenting, title sponsor who would put up the several thousands of dollars that Terex did.

On April 23 of that year, we had a team meeting at the Flying Saucer. Team captain Chuck told us that we were three grand in the red. It’s one of the few times I have ever raised my voice at a team meeting. “Why didn’t you tell me we were that far in the red?” I told Chuck. “I could have used my blog to recruit sponsors, and more members.” I had no idea our outlook was that bleak.

The team leaders assured me that everything was fine, that we would get through this.

The lack of sponsorship money meant that we couldn’t afford to pay a company to erect scaffolding. That would have meant that a two-story booth was out of the question, which would have been bad news because the river view from the second story was one of the major draws to our booth. We (or at least I) wanted to establish the Ques Brothers as one of the best parties in Tom Lee Park, and it would be very hard to do that on one story.

However, we had an out. You can only erect scaffolding that did not come from a Memphis in May-approved vendor if you own the scaffolding. We had a team member who owned scaffolding. Yay, problem solved!

…Well, until we got to load-in and saw the scaffolding. It was rickety, shitty, and possibly dangerous. It only covered about a third of the length of the booth. It nearly fell over when we had a forklift erect it. But on our limited budget, we would have to make do.

The scaffolding was not raised, so we spent a good portion of the week (into Thursday, the first public day at the time) nailing wooden boards together so we would have something to walk on other than mud. To make our booth look nice for the judges, we laid donated carpet samples of all different sizes and colors over the boards. Instead of a sharp-looking wrap for the outside of our booth, we had fabric. The booth was by no means a palace – and the Valero booth next door with a $30,000 budget made it look even worse by comparison – but we would have to make do.

We got through Friends & Family Night on Wednesday, but overnight storms moved through Downtown Memphis, ripping our fabric decorations to pieces. Our booth was a shambles when we arrived Thursday morning. We spent hours redecorating and sweeping out mud, trying to make our booth look as good as we could – really, trying to make our booth less horrible would be a better way to phrase it. It really looked like Mr. Murphy of Murphy’s Law had visited us in every possible way.

Then amazing things started to happen.

Thursday night we hooked up the iPod to the sound system, shined a spotlight on a disco ball I had donated, and the party began. And before long it became THE place to be in Tom Lee Park. Our teammates were there, our friends were there, and quite a few owners of Downtown businesses paid us a visit. Everyone wanted to get in. There was plenty of beer, and everyone in the booth was dancing. To this day I would rank Thursday night of BBQ Fest ’08 as the best party the Ques Brothers or any of its successor teams ever threw. I looked over at the $30,000 booth next door with the Valero corporate sponsorship and thought, “Beautiful booth… but we’re having more fun than they are.”

Friday night we had a birthday party for one of our team members. It was not as wild as Thursday night, but there was just such a feeling of team unity. We were all in this thing together.

Saturday, of course, was judging day. The shoulder teams always go first, with the judges coming between 11 AM and noon. I prefer not to arrive at the booth until after the judges have left, so I pre-gamed at the Saucer that day, not getting to the park until a little after 2 PM.

I found my teammates standing outside our booth quietly. Inside our team leaders and head cook were presenting to judges. I was confused. “What’s going on?” I asked a teammate. “I didn’t think they ever came this late to shoulder teams.”

“If the judges come back a second time, it means you’ve made the top 10 in your division. If they come back again, you’ve made the top 3. This is the judges’ third visit.”

TOP THREE! We were going on stage! We were getting a trophy! We were getting prize money! Sure enough, about 6:45 this evening, the announcement was made. “Third place in shoulder, the Ques Brothers.” We all went up on stage and collected our trophy.

Thanks to the prize money, along with tips left at the bar and a last-minute recruitment drive, we finished the year with money in the bank, having dug out of that $3000 hole from only three weeks before.

Our head cook at the time, Willie Wagner, took the trophy back to his Chicago restaurant Honky Tonk Barbeque. A month later, Mayor Richard M. Daley came out to the restaurant to issue a proclamation congratulating Willie for representing the Windy City well at the world championships of BBQ.

After our Thursday night party and our Saturday night trip to the stage, scraping together enough money was not an issue in 2009. Many people wanted to join our team, with membership ballooning to about 70. Matt Mullenweg, head honcho of WordPress (the very WordPress used to publish this blog) and a huge BBQ fan, heard about our 3rd place finish and offered a WordPress sponsorship. In addition, Holliday Flowers came on board as booth design sponsor, seeing a unique opportunity to show off what they can do for event design. The professional scaffolding was back, and the booth was beautiful and the floor was raised off the mud. Only one year later, we had a better booth than the ’08 Valero booth.

Just a reminder that things can change quickly at BBQ Fest. Optimistic about 2017!

Thursday update

Last night the Moody Ques met at the Holliday Flowers warehouse and staged bars, tables, chairs, and storage units for BBQ Fest load-in. Deputy Director of Public Relations Perjorie T. Roll was a tremendous help.

Moody Ques news I learned last night: We’re doubling down on the gummy worms soaked in booze this year in the booth. Oh my.

I saw the people returning from the Freewheel bike ride while we were loading equipment. It looks like a fun, relaxing way to get some exercise and meet your neighbors. The next ride is Wednesday, May 17. It will depart from 603 Monroe and will explore Downtown and the Clayborn Temple area. The ride is free and you can reserve one of their bikes if you don’t have one.

Get sweet on Mom is the theme at the Memphis Farmers Market this Saturday. You can buy her flowers at Whitton Farms, Gardens Oy Vey, or Sue’s Flowers. Find her the perfect gift at Erica Bodine Pottery, Cosgrove & Lewis Soaps, Gardens Oy Vey, Studio 1688, or Garden Path Studios. Kids can create a teapot frame for a Mother’s Day gift. Live music by Bashville 8:30-10 and Steve Schad 11-12:30. The market runs from 7 AM to 1 PM every Saturday under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson.

Catch the Navy Band’s Brass Quintet after work! As part of Navy Week, they will perform at the Center for Southern Folklore from 5 to 7 PM today.

After the Navy Band wraps up, you can take a short walk down the street to hear the sounds of Colombia! Memphis in May presents Herencia de Timbiqui at the Orpheum at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $15.

The Redbirds are back in town and they host El Paso tonight at AutoZone Park at 7:05. There will be $2 drafts at select locations throughout the park. There’s a special ticket that gets you all-you-can-eat burgers, hot dogs, and sides. College students can get a left field bluff ticket for $5 with valid ID.

The development of a pedestrian bridge over Front Street, connecting The Pinch with Bass Pro at the Pyramid, has taken a few steps forward. This was part of the original Bass Pro plan but was left on the backburner for years.

Cafe Pontotoc will have returning artist Elayna Scott back for a live art session tonight from 6 to 8 PM.

On The Edge: Cars & Coffee happens the second Saturday of every month from 9 AM to noon… which means it is happening this Saturday, May 13. Auto enthusiasts of the Mid-South come together in The Edge, Memphis’ original automotive row, once a month to display their favorite cars for all to see. It happens in the parking lot next to the old Kudzu’s Bar & Grill. There will be a pop-up tent near the street, you’ll find coffee, donuts, and a sign up sheets if you want event reminders.

In other Edge District news, the Memphis Medical Center District Collaborative will host a Public Art Fund Information Session next Tuesday, May 16, from 5 to 7 PM in Edge Plaza at the corner of Monroe and Marshall. If you have an idea for a public art project in the Memphis Medical Center District, there’s help for your vision through a public art fund. Get funded up to $2500 per project. Learn more

Holly has a good post on everything you need to know about RiverPlay at The Fourth Bluff.

Max’s Sports Bar hosts another crawfish boil Saturday, May 13, with doors opening at 11 AM and the first batch coming off at 12:30 PM. You get two pounds of spicy delicious crawfish along with taters, corn and sausage cooked in the boil. Kind of surprised to see this on the calendar, because Max told me he might wait for May festival season over to bring the boils back. Not disappointed to hear about this one though! Saturday is not a big load-in day for my team, so I may have time to stop by!

The View, the rooftop bar atop the Residence Inn by Marriott at Main and Monroe will have live music by Shufflegrit today and tomorrow 6-9 PM. They are open Thursday-Saturday starting at 4 PM with happy hour 4-6 each day.

I don’t know if I have any readers who love mac & cheese, but just in case I do, Mac & Cheetos are back at Burger King for round 2.

That’s it for now. I will probably hit the Silly Goose as usual on Thursday after work. Back tomorrow with more.

Wednesday update and important Moody Ques announcement

MOODY QUES ANNOUNCEMENT: Our staging of equipment at the Holliday Flowers warehouse, originally scheduled for tomorrow evening, has been pushed forward to tonight, Wednesday, May 10 at 6 PM due to people’s availability. If you can come help, please do, even if you come late. I am arranging a Lyft carpool out there departing the Silly Goose at 6 PM for anyone in the Downtown core who wants to join. Holliday is at 440 Monroe in the Edge District.

One of my favorite local bands will perform at the Peabody rooftop party tomorrow evening, Thursday, May 11. Aquanet is a cover band performing ’80s hair band hits. If you like the music of Motley Crue, Poison, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Winger, Warrant, and Cinderella, you should come check them out. Doors open at 6 PM, music starts at 7. $10 cover (or $150 season VIP pass), with ladies and hotel guests free before 7. Your admission includes a buffet of Colombian guacamole with lime tortillas and beef empanadas. If you’re in VIP you get an additional buffet of Colombian arroz con pollo, chorizo quesadillas, and chicken tamales. Banana margaritas and cherry zing moonshine will be the drink specials.

Fourth Bluff Fridays returns to Memphis Park on Front Street this Friday, May 12, kicking off an 8-week run. This is a family-friendly pop-up beer garden event with river views, live music, and food trucks. The TapBox will be on hand pouring 10 craft beers. For this Friday’s grand opening, Iron Mic Coalition with DJ Capital A will provide the music 6:30-8:30, and the Fuel food truck will be there as well as MemCity Design.

The MBJ has a slideshow of plans for the interior of Arrive Hotel to open at 477 S. Main, in the building that formerly housed the Memphis College of Art graduate school. They hope to be open by Memphis in May next year. The hotel will house a gastropub and live music venue seating 120, and a high-end 98-seat restaurant offering “Mexican food with a Southern twist.” Interesting…

A new sign has been installed on Beale Street to make it easier to find the Withers Collection Museum on Beale Street. Withers took the iconic “I AM A MAN” photos during the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike.

A music festival this Friday, May 12 called Visible in May will honor the Visible Music College 2017 senior class. There will be three live music stages, food trucks, pop-up shops, local vendors, games, prizes, and a photo booth. 2:30 to 7:30 PM. It will be at Visible Music College, 200 Madison.

VERY, VERY COOL: 15-year-old local entrepreneur Moziah Bridges, founder of Mo’s Bows, maker of custom bow ties and neckties, has struck a deal with the NBA licensing him to make NBA-themed merchandise.

Prediction for BBQ Fest: There will be at least one team whose booth is decorated with sombreros, pinatas, and burros and a sign that says “(team name) honors Columbia.” No it won’t be my team.

That’s it for now. Couple beers at Silly Goose after work then out to Holliday to help with staging.

BBQ Fest: Tips for first-year team members

Back with another one of my posts about BBQ Fest which happens on the river next week. This post is going to be directed at first-year BBQ team members – in particular Moody Ques first-year members, but a lot of what I am about to tell you would apply to any team. These are some tips to help you get the most out of your BBQ team experience.

First of all, get the phone number of at least one teammate who has a “24.” In your team packet, you’ll get a plastic wristband that gets you entry to Tom Lee Park during public park hours Wednesday-Saturday. (I tend to snap mine real loose so I can slip it off at night.) However, you’ll notice that 17 of our members have a different-colored plastic wristband with “24 Hour Access” printed on them. These people can come and go anytime they please, whether during public park hours or not. The cooks need these of course, and many of the team leaders will have them. Not only does a “24” give you the right to be in the park anytime you need to, it lets you bring outside food and alcohol in. So if you’re bringing a side or a dessert or your own beer, and you have a regular public park hours wristband, you’ll need someone with 24-hour access to meet you at the gate.

(Side note: I myself don’t wear a “24.” I am offered one every year but turn it down. As Director of Public Relations, there’s really nothing that will be going on in the park at 3 AM that I need to report about.)

Next up: Let’s talk about guest wristbands. For the busy nights (Thursday and Friday) team members get a number of guest wristbands so their friends can come to the booth and visit. These paper wristbands do not get your invited guests in the park, so they will still need to pay for a ticket at the gate. What the guest wristband does is let our off-duty MPD security at the door know that your guests were invited to our booth by a team member.

First piece of advice: Unless you are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT certain your guests will come, do not hand out any guest wristbands in advance. Wait until guests are physically in the park and are calling and texting you that they have arrived. The reason is that a high number of wristbands handed out in advance never get used. People have stuff come up and decide not to go to BBQ Fest. Or they visit so many teams in the Ribs division that they never make it south to Shoulder. Those guest wristbands are like gold at BBQ Fest for people not on teams, so treat them that way.

The advice in the paragraph above is doubly true if the people you’re inviting are in the service industry. Nothing against service industry folks whatsoever, but a lot of times they will pick up shifts at the last minute so their co-workers can go to BBQ Fest. Wait until they are in the park.

Don’t give out a guest wristband to someone who a considerable number of your teammates know equally well as you do. They will get in the booth one way or the other, so don’t worry about it. Save your guest wristbands for people who would not get in without knowing you.

If you’re not going to use your guest wristbands, let one of the team leaders know. There is always a need for extras.

If you feel it is appropriate to ask, encourage your invited guests who are not team members to feed the pig (leave a tip). Team members are not expected to feed their own pig. However, if you visit other booths and enjoy other BBQ teams’ hospitality, it makes the Moody Ques look good if you feed their pig.

It is very possible that you will ruin a pair of shoes at BBQ Fest. If we get even one good rain in the week preceding BBQ Fest, the sidewalks will be covered in mud. Run to the shoe store and get a pair of shoes you don’t mind throwing away at the end of the weekend. If the weather is nice and the shoes survive, bonus.

If you’re outside the booth and the ice truck rolls by, stick your head in the door and shout “DO WE NEED ICE?” We usually do.

If you look at the river bluff, every so often there are signs with numbers on them. I think these are for riverboat navigation, but they can be extremely useful for giving invited guests an approximate idea where your booth is in the park. Look and see which numbered sign is closest to your booth. Houses are also good for approximating location (“we’re across from the white house with balconies on all three stories”). By the way, this advice applies to meeting up with people at Music Fest and 901 Fest as well.

On Thursday and Friday nights we have an off-duty MPD officer working the door, if you aren’t busy, he’d appreciate it a lot if you ask him if he needs anything. It will likely be hot in the evening so he might appreciate a bottle of water. Or he might need someone to watch the door for a couple of minutes while he sweeps the booth to make sure there are no problems.

Around the park there are vendors selling fresh-squeezed lemonade. If you’ve hit the booze a bit hard and are starting to feel tired and dehydrated with hours left to go in the day, one of those lemonades and maybe an hour or two break from alcohol can do wonders for helping you catch your second wind.

Judging happens from 11 AM to noon Saturday for shoulder teams. During that time only the presenting team members and the cooks will be allowed in the booth. Team members are invited to come stand outside (if possible wear your team shirts) to politely applaud the judges as they leave. We can pull a keg outside so team members can have beer. The park opens at 10 that morning and it would be nice if we could have a few volunteers to come get the booth in pristine condition for the judges.

For those who would prefer to wait until the judges have left, I will organize a team meetup at a nearby location where we can grab a few beers and then walk over to the park together. Details to follow.

If we’re told the judges are coming back and we have to get out of the booth again… don’t feel inconvenienced, because that is great news! It means the judges are trying to figure out the top 10, and we’ve made it. Trust me, in that case the party we’ll have Saturday evening will more than make up for the extra time standing outside in the afternoon.

I hope these tips helped… if you have any questions, please ask. Back at lunchtime with Wednesday news.