I heard a rumor yesterday, and posted “can anyone confirm this?” on Facebook and started quite a stir, so I want to discuss it here. I heard through second-hand information that they may have removed the jukebox from Earnestine & Hazel’s. My Facebook post drew more than 20 comments, mostly speculation and feelings of anger and sadness. However, toward the end i got comments that lead me to believe the rumor is NOT TRUE. I will try to get down to South Main today or tomorrow and find out what is going on for myself.
This is a situation in which you really have to consider both sides of the story. Earnestine & Hazel’s, along with Paula & Raiford’s and A. Schwab on Beale, is one of those places that just oozes soul, that makes you feel the Memphis of our great-grandparents’ time. That jukebox with all the soul, Elvis, and country classics…. the soul burgers…. the upstairs which has hardly changed since it was a brothel in the 1980s… none of us want to lose that. I certainly don’t. In my early years as a Downtowner E&H was my go-to place around midnight, 1 AM on weekend nights. In more recent times I’ve enjoyed it during the day. There will never be another place like it.
However, we also have to consider this from an owner’s perspective. E&H sits on what is becoming one of the most desirable corners in Memphis. I would say within 3 years, South Main and G.E. Patterson is going to have the desirability of corners like Madison and Cooper, Poplar and Highland, or Poplar and Ridgeway. However, unlike those corners, E&H’s corner will retain its neighborhood feel. It makes sense to have a business on that corner that draws heavy foot traffic all the time, not just from midnight to 3 AM two days a week.
So, although I hope Earnestine & Hazel’s will retain the character that has made it special all these years, I do understand how an owner would want the business to keep pace with the changing neighborhood. Also, as my friend Tawanda Pirtle pointed out, the owner is still dealing with the recent death of her father, and we need to be considerate of that.
I do have one concern that came out of all the comments on Facebook. One commenter said he was in there recently and had a soul burger with ketchup, mustard, and mayo. Wait, WHAT??? Ketchup on a soul burger? Unless it was specifically ordered that way, that’s a foul. Grilled onions, pickles, mustard, mayo, bun warmed on the grill, side of Golden Flake potato chips… that’s a soul burger as late owner Russell George would have cooked it.
So many great memories there. I used to see Mike Fratello in there all the time when he was the Grizzlies’ head coach. A 2007 visit to Nate’s bar upstairs ended up being a seminal moment in the formation of a local BBQ team (not mine) a few years later. And I’ll make a confession… I can be a bit of a brat sometimes. You know how in the past couple of years, I’ve gone up there and pumped a $5 bill into the jukebox, and then played all disco? I did that so someone couldn’t come in and play her favorite Johnny Cash song.
Wow I’m running out of time if I’m going to make it to Bardog at 11. Let get through the time-sensitive news quickly. Tonight is Grizz’a birthday and he’s celebrating by giving away backpacks to the first 5000 fans in attendance. Tip-off is at 7 PM and the Indiana Pacers are the opponents.
Although the talk has been all about shopping Mike and Marc on the trade market, the sources I follow on Twitter indicate that the two players drawing the most interest from other teams are JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple. They would fit in nicely at the power forward and wing positions for a team with playoff aspirations, and if Memphis could get back young talent, draft picks, and/or expiring contracts to free up cap space this summer, that would be good.
One of the founding members of The Supremes, Mary Wilson, performs at the Halloran Centre tonight.
Evelyn & Olive out in The Edge District posted that they have a special jerk BBQ rib today.
Out of time! The non-time-sensitive news items in my queue will be pushed back until tomorrow, so check back.