Friday update

Yesterday I was thinking about something, and I’m going to wonder out loud on here. The situation with the Downtown parking meters has changed since this time last year. You now have to pay them 8 AM to 10 PM, and the maximum you can pay at one time is 4 hours. How is that going to work during Music Fest? You can’t exactly leave Music Fest and walk a mile to your car to feed the meter. Is everyone who comes to Music Fest going to have to pay to park in a garage this year? Or will the cops be lenient with their meter enforcement that Saturday?

There is sad news about one of the food trucks that regularly participated in the Thursday Court Square food truck rodeos. Last Friday, the owner of the King of Kings BBQ trailer was driving home on I-40 near Watkins. He encountered potholes, causing the trailer to fishtail and eventually flip on its side. The trailer’s roof buckled and there is a hole in its side. Damage is estimated at about $100,000. If there’s any good news in all this, it’s that the owner was not injured, using his experience as a truck driver to prevent his pickup truck flipping along with the trailer.

Tomorrow is opening day at the Memphis Farmers Market, under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson. The Market runs from 8 AM to 1 PM at that location Saturdays through the end of October. Check out the vendor list for the Market’s opening day so you can plan your shopping. Three food trucks, El Mero Taco, Fuel Cafe, and Grub, will be on site to feed you. Live music throughout the day by Jennifer Westwood and Dylan Dunbar, Laramie Renae and Dylan Wheeler, and Pierce Crask. The Cossitt Library will be there with its Reading Corral for kids, with story time, crafts, and more. Downtown Yoga will have a pay-what-you-can class at the Market from 9:45 to 10:45 (bring a mat and water). Student pharmacists will be on site to answer whatever questions you have about immunization. Bring your compostable items to the Market and The Compost Fairy will take them away and turn them into dirt.

Envision Memphis on the top floor of the Cadre Building will hold a Nutrition 101 seminar tomorrow from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Learn about meal planning and nutritious balanced meals, staying hydrated, what to eat before and after workouts, the basics of healthy eating, and daily nutrition reminders. At the end there will be a Q&A. Cost is $20.

Memphis history fans will want to check out Refinement on the River at the Woodruff-Fontaine House tonight from 5 to 8. This bicentennial celebration will feature photos of the early days of Memphis, with looks at the architecture Downtown and along the river. The exhibit will cover the period through the 1950s, when Urban Renewal led to the demise of many of our city’s most beautiful landmarks.

United Way celebrates 95 years in Memphis with a party tonight at The Columns at One Commerce Square.

Play in the 2019 Grizzlies Prep Mini Golf Classic tomorrow and help support the development of young men here in Memphis. Winner gets $300, and funds raised will be used to send Grizzlies Prep students to visit college campuses. The location is 168 Jefferson, with family play noon to 2 and tournament time 4 to 8.

Amazingly, opening day at the Redbirds did not get rained out, and new manager Ben Johnson got his first victory.

Job alert: The Memphis Chamber is hiring an administrative assistant.

The Flyer has a piece on Sweet Magnolia, the new gelato place going in at the 409 South Main food hall.

Check out this Dallas Observer story in which Shannon Wynne, partner in the Flying Saucer chain, thinks brewery taprooms are responsible for putting financial strain on the Flying Saucer locations and other similar bars. In 49 of the 50 states, production breweries can sell beer to go. The one state in which they can’t is Texas, thanks to the lobbying of people like Wynne. Saucer corporate is really, really bad at embracing changes in the beer scene and in the neighborhoods in which their bars are located, and Wynne’s comments are proof of that. If the Saucer chain is losing business, management needs to look in the mirror instead of looking for others to blame.

The brewery taproom thing doesn’t matter that much to me, but I want to go on a rant here for a minute. In 2007 the Memphis Saucer was the Downtown locals’ bar. We all met up there after work, made lasting friendships, gathered a huge team for trivia on Tuesday nights. In the years after that, things started to change. The Saucer had new competition in the form of locals’ bars: Max’s Sports Bar, which opened in 2007; Bardog, which opened in 2008; Silly Goose, which opened in 2009; and Blind Bear, which opened in 2011. The Saucer could have retained us as regulars; we told them what we wanted. We told them:

  • We wanted more interesting Fire Sales, the daily discount beer which is sold for $3.50 ($2.50 back in those days). The Fire Sale rotation was a boring bunch of mostly brown ales, Shiner Bock being the one that comes to mind, along with a blueberry beer that tasted like feet and some other dull choices.
  • We wanted PBR. At least six other Saucers, including Little Rock and Nashville, carry the beer. We were even willing to pay a slight premium. Bars like the Goose and the Bear charge $3 for a 16 ounce can. We would have paid $3.50 for the privilege of drinking PBR at the Saucer.
  • We wanted Fireball. Granted, I sure don’t want it anymore, but several years ago it was the thing to drink in Memphis bars.
  • We wanted management to drop the attitude that employees are expendable and treat their staff, particularly the ones who had built relationships with their regular customers, better.

The GM at the time flat-out refused to carry PBR. He said he didn’t want “that kind of clientele” coming to his bar. That was insulting to a large group of his regulars who he knew very well were PBR drinkers.

The GM was eventually forced by corporate to carry Fireball, but he charged $7 a shot for it as a further insult to the regulars that had requested it. Fireball is typically sold for $4 per shot at locals’ bars Downtown, sometimes on special for $3 (or $2 at one bar when it’s snowing).

One of our favorite long-time Saucer girls was given an ultimatum to choose between the Saucer and her other job. She chose her other job, and when Daniel from the Silly Goose found out she was no longer at the Saucer, he immediately contacted her and offered her a job bartending. Six years later, she’s still there, and I’ll be sitting at her bar in a few hours. No plans to go to the Saucer today or at all this weekend, on the other hand.

Another of our favorite Saucer girls, who had built a loyal base of regulars who came up there to see her, got fired for the stupidest of reasons. She was driving home from Nashville on a Sunday afternoon. Her car broke down on the way, and she called the Saucer to tell them. Their response was “We don’t care what happened, if you’re not here at 5 for your shift, you’re fired.” The Blind Bear hired her and she’s still there. Two other Saucer girls left – one fired for a similar stupid reason and the other saw the writing on the wall and put in her notice –  and they became longtime Blind Bear employees. You know, Daniel and Jeannette really should write thank-you notes to Saucer corporate for providing their bars with such excellent staff and the regulars who followed them to their new workplaces.

As for the Fire Sales, they did improve, but it took years. I do have to admit that local management at the Downtown Saucer is much better than it’s been in the past, and their idea of being a burger bar is a cool one. However, management was so inattentive to their regulars for so long that it’s too late. Many of us have moved on. In my case, I’m comfortable going to the Goose for happy hour and Blind Bear in the evenings, and Bardog Saturdays for brunch and occasionally south to Max’s. It’s not that the Saucer as it stands in 2019 isn’t worthy of the occasional visit, but my dance card is full at this point.

Okay. Rant over, and that’s all the news I have tomorrow. I may take tomorrow off so I can get an early start at the Farmers Market. Back tomorrow or Sunday with more news.