In the Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference, Health Officer Bruce Randolph announced that bars (limited-service restaurants) will be able to open tomorrow after the new health directive goes into effect at midnight. However, they will have to follow the same rules as full-service restaurants, including
Bar seating must remain closed
Alcohol can only be served to customers also being served food and who are seated at a table
Maximum stay for dine-in service 2 hours
10 PM is still the mandated closing time; restaurants can stay open past 10 for take-out but can’t sell to-go alcohol after 10
In summary, it was the least they could do. The very least.
If Health Directive No. 12 is posted this afternoon, I’ll update this post to include a link.
If you’re looking for a job in the service industry, there’s a chance to become a member of a Memphis restaurant family this week. Aldo’s Pizza Pies Downtown will hold a job fair Wednesday and Thursday of this week, 3 to 7 PM each day. They’re hiring chefs, servers, delivery drivers, managers, and more. If you have experience tossing pies, that’s a plus.
Aldo’s is staffing up at a time of year when things would normally slow down. Perhaps this is another hint that the Health Department may be about to relax the regulations that have strangled Shelby County restaurants and their customers since July.
The folks who run the Saucer think such an announcement will come no later than next week, because they will have a re-opening party September 30 and thereafter will be open Monday-Friday 4-10 and Saturday-Sunday 11-10, with the hope of bringing back weekday lunches soon.
Are the closing times a sign that the Health Department-mandated 10 PM closing time will remain in place? I’d be OK with that. It’s the really stupid regulations (no seating at bar areas, 2-hour window to dine in, must order food to purchase alcohol) that need to go.
I wouldn’t mind seeing them keep contact tracing in place too. That basically requires restaurants to have a doorman at all times, which prevents a lot of idiotic behavior that doesn’t need to be happening during a pandemic.
The owners of The Office @ Uptown are retiring and are planning to sell the business. They hope to find new owners who will keep the restaurant as a neighborhood hub. The Office @ Uptown closed for what they thought would be a week or two when the pandemic hit, so I guess technically they’re on the list of business pandemic casualties. COVID RUINS EVERYTHING.
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra returns with the latest in its Unplugged series Thursday and Friday, October 15 and 16. The concert title will be Amadeus: Inside the Mind of a Genius, exploring childhood prodigy composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. How much of the movie Amadeus was true? How did he compose so much in only 35 years? Rock me, Amadeus! This event will be at the Halloran Centre and of course all that “important policies and procedures” crap will be in place so you don’t catch COVID-19.
Tropical Storm Beta has made landfall on the middle Texas coast. It is expected to turn northeast toward Houston, Shreveport, and Memphis. It will be a rainy rest-of-the-week after today. High tomorrow is unlikely to make it to 70.
I’m scheduled to have an article appear in The Ascent today, although as of the time I’m typing this (7:20 AM) it’s not up yet. At nearly 120,000 followers, The Ascent is larger than the three other Medium publications my work has been in, combined. Life lessons are what The Ascent is all about and it’s described as “A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment.” I’ll try to have a link and an article summary for you tomorrow.
The COVID-19 numbers for Shelby County looked really promising yesterday. 120 new cases were reported out of a total of 2131 tests, for a daily positivity rate of only 5.6%. Now, granted, statistics for one isolated day can be “noisy.” It’s sure better than a one-day rate in the fourteens, though. Can we please have our limited-service restaurants back open now?
As I was reading articles on Medium yesterday, I came across a really neat concept to help serve the needs of those experiencing homelessness: Cloud Covered Streets mobile trailers. The article I read discussed the trailer in Phoenix but they want to expand to other cities too. The trailer has
A full-size shower stall (wheelchair accessible)
A stackable washer and dryer
Wireless laptop where a member of the team can assist in filling out job applications and contacting loved ones
The trailer also employs those experiencing homelessness. Sure would like to see something like this in Memphis!
Last night I got invited to submit an article to Data Driven Investor’s online publication on the Medium.com platform. I’m not making huge money as a writer yet but I’m already acquiring some building blocks for my writing resume! DDI on Medium has about 35,000 followers, about the same size as the Age of Awareness education publication that accepted one of my articles last week.
That’s it. Time to get this week started. Back tomorrow, or sooner if an announcement about the bars is made today.
I saw photos of the beer dinner Bardog had this week and the food looked scrumptious. If you missed out, you’ll soon have another chance at one of their special dinners, although this one won’t feature beer. The chef said yesterday they’re looking at Halloween as the date for the next one. He’s thinking about a seafood theme and each course will be paired with mixed drinks.
After that conversation, I realized something, not about Halloween at Bardog but about Halloween in general this year. Consider the following:
Halloween is one of the biggest party nights of the year
This year Halloween is on Saturday, the biggest party night of the week
We’re in the middle of a pandemic.
Might as well walk over to the calendar right now and mark down SHITSHOW for October 31, because that’s what it is going to be.
… But wait, there’s more. Even if you’re smart enough to not go out on Halloween night this year, there’s still a high probability you will be around people who did… on ELECTION DAY, after the coronavirus has had three days to incubate.
If ever there were a year to vote early, this is it.
Well damn… it’s 1:28 AM as I type this and there are still a lot of people awake. 14 rooms have their lights on at the Holiday Inn, at least the side of it that faces me, at this hour. Honestly, I’m surprised 14 rooms are even occupied. I guess the pandemic hasn’t completely killed Memphis’ tourist business. Anybody having sex? (Gets out binoculars) Nope, doesn’t look like it.
The Silly Goose has their fall cocktail menu up.
(Photo credit: Brittini who bartends there) You can’t hang out while you drink your cocktail – although hopefully that’ll change soon when Health Directive No. 12 comes out – but you can get it to go. Might as well get one of their wood-fired pizzas to-go too!
It is now mathematically impossible for Memphis 901 FC to make the playoffs this year. The squad lost 4-1 to Louisville City yesterday on the road. They return to AutoZone Park Wednesday night to host North Carolina FC. Playoff hopes or no, the matches are a lot of fun, so come out! Plus, it might be a bit easier to get one of the 1000 or so social distanced tickets now.
The Memphis Tigers football team has canceled Friday’s date with UTSA as the virus continues to rage. However, the Tigers have added a home game with Stephen F. Austin on November 21.
Only September 20 and we’re already on the Greek letters: Tropical Storm Beta is expected to hit the Texas coast Tuesday and could dump some rain on Memphis as a tropical depression Thursday night and Friday.
I wonder what will happen if they run out of Greek letters? There’s still two and a third months left in hurricane season.
Still trying to figure out writing on Medium.com. Thursday and Friday I published 3 new articles on the platform and busted my ass trying to cultivate relationships with other writers. Saturday I went to Bardog for PBR and shots (and calamari, because you have to order food). I made more money Saturday than I did Thursday and Friday combined. Long-term – like on a monthly basis – Medium is a good side hustle once you build up a writing portfolio, but day-to-day there’s more variance than there is at the dog track in West Memphis.
I am better learning how to target an audience, though, and I have an article on intuition I want to get posted, so I’m going to publish this blog post then head over to Medium. No Sunday brunch today although I might get out later if I completely exhaust my creative self. Back tomorrow with more news.
Rest in peace Justice Ginsburg. You were one of the great justices of modern times, a champion of gender and LGBTQ equality. You sacrificed a well-deserved retirement for our country. Thank you.
Perhaps the biggest local news story is not an official story… yet. To provide context, from the Memphis Flying Saucer:
No official announcements yet, but we’re getting close to having some good news for Memphis! In the mean time, if you want to get in on the Vote Glass that has predicted the last three presidential elections, pre-order online!
You remember the week before the COVID-19 task force announced Phase 1, which rolled out May 4? They made it pretty clear to everyone, although they never outright said it, that an announcement about reopening was going to be coming that week.
There was a veiled message to restaurants – which may have been actually said through back channels – to go ahead and hire back your staff, go ahead and place your food service and beverage supplier orders, so you’ll be able to hit the ground running when we officially give you permission to reopen.
There’s a lot of reason to suspect similar messages were sent this week, particularly to the owners of limited-service restaurants. I HAVE NOT CONFIRMED THIS but given posts like the one above from the Saucer, there’s good reason to speculate.
Now, that would all be good and fine…. we miss the bars… except for Mayor Strickland’s weekly update, or as I have taken to call it, Weekly Info from Jimbo from Mempho. If you scroll down to the second graph in Jimbo’s info, you see that for cases through September 7, the replication rate, “R” or “R-nought” as it is often called, has risen to 1.26. That means that right now, each new person who gets the coronavirus will infect on average 1.26 people. The “tripwires” in recent health directives state that R needs to be at or below 1 – the virus therefore being starved of new hosts – before limited-service restaurants are allowed to reopen.
So now the COVID-19 task force would seem to be in a pickle. If they delay the reopening date, the limited-service restaurants’ inventory is left to rot. Employees who were promised jobs to return to have to go back on unemployment – again. This is an industry that has been asked to bear more than their fair share of the economic burden. No one wants to ask them for yet another sacrifice.
Yet we have the social media “public health experts” out there – people who post things like “I could even get behind a second lockdown, if we did it properly this time!” If additional reopenings are allowed this coming week, they are going to scream at the top of their lungs that the tripwires were never anything more than a joke.
And they’ll be right.
There is no correct answer. It’s figuring out the least bad of the choices. As someone who has friends who own limited-service restaurants, I want them to reopen, both so my friends won’t lose their life’s investments and so I can go hang out there. But if I feel that way, am I rooting for people to die?
I don’t know, man. I’m so sick of 2020.
Let’s move on to some food porn, what do you say?
Yesterday I had to run to the ATM in the First Horizon building at Madison and B.B. King. Before I left the apartment, I thought, I’m going to walk right past fam, the Asian and sushi restaurant on Madison, why don’t I put in an order? It’s so easy to do online.
It seems like they’ve revised their menu a little since the last time I ordered, and they added a few new rice bowls. One was a spicy beef curry bowl with filet, savory curry sauce, steamed rice, kale, corn, grilled onions, and carrot. I love spicy food, and I’ve been getting bored with chicken and/or shrimp in Asian dishes lately, so this was a welcome change.
Great chefs will tell you the presentation of a dish matters as much as the taste, and look at that beautiful photo! Even having been walked a block home, my bowl was a gorgeous assortment of beef, vegetables, and rice. As for the taste, it was just about perfect. The meat was cooked tender, the curry sauce was tangy and just slightly hot, the veggies were in the right proportions. This is my new go-to at the restaurant.
I was going to get a side of egg rolls, but Perjorie hopped on the laptop’s track pad as I ordered and pressed the button for edamame. Trolls prefer foods that are the same color as their hair.
As much food as I ordered, you’d think there have been leftovers. There weren’t. It was too good to save some for later.
Another death to report: TOM III, the tiger who was the mascot for the University of Memphis, died at age 12. With TOM III dies the university’s tradition of having a live tiger at games.
Bars/limited-service restaurants may have been closed for more than two months, but they’re eligible for grants up to $10,000 under Shelby County’s new Share The Tab program. Glad the program exists but in no way will that grant completely cover the expenses of bars for the amount of time they have been closed.
Mid-South Pride will hold a Regional Pride Event tomorrow, including a parade. Lineup is at 1 PM at Tiger Lane and the parade, 2:00-3:30, will travel
East Parkway to Young
Young to Union (WTF? They mean Young to Cooper to Union?)
Union to Danny Thomas
Danny Thomas to Beale
The parade will end at Front and Beale.
The curse of the avid reader: We pronounce words wrong because we always read them and never hear them on TV. I can so relate to this. I pronounced Kamala Harris’ name wrong for months because I had never heard it spoken properly.
Let’s see what we’ve got going on football-wise… looks like #17 Miami at #18 Louisville (6:30, ABC) is the game of the day. #14 UCF at Georgia Tech (2:30, ABC) should be good too and a chance to scout a key AAC opponent. Over on USA there’s South Florida at #7 Notre Dame at 1:30.
I knocked off work at 8:58 PM, the first day so far on which I published two new articles to Medium. I wanted to go out, grab a seat at the bar, grab 3 beers, catch up with the bartenders and watch whatever sports are on TV, not order food since I already ate, hang out until 11:45 or so and go to bed.
Of course I can’t do that, as per Health Directive No. 11. So sick of all this.
This weekend, a new outdoor dining space will spring up in South Main. Huling has been closed off between Main and Wagner, and a dining area will be installed there, next to Puck Food Hall. It will provide socially distanced seating for Puck diners as well as diners from Grecian Gourmet and the soul food restaurant across the street.
If Makeda’s Cookies were a person, it could legally drink today. Stop by their Downtown location at 488 S. Second today and tell them Cheers to 21 Years!
That’s not the only business birthday we have to celebrate today, either. As your number-one source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my pleasure to inform you that today is Boxlot’s first birthday. Boxlot is the shipping container shopping mall set up the parking lot in the 600 block of Monroe. There will be free giveaways and you can shop Mo’s Bows, Kickspins, and MEMFOLK. 6:30-8:30 PM celebration. Must RSVP here.
That brings me to the COVID-19 Thursday press conference recap, which will be brief because I was having connection problems.
Health Department Director Dr. Haushalter said that we are seeing a spike in cases following Labor Day, as expected. She said that numbers coming in today and over the weekend will be critical. Therefore, no steps toward reopening will be taken until next week.
Dr. H said it is critical that if your organization knows of a confirmed case of COVID-19, it needs to be reported to the Health Department immediately, so that quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing can be put in place to slow the additional spread of the virus. She said that although the incubation period of the virus is typically 14 days, those who are hospitalized may require an extra 5 to 10 days.
Dr. H stressed that there is abundant testing, and David Sweat reiterated that there are more than 10,000 slots. If you feel like there is a chance you might have picked up COVID-19, you are encouraged to go get tested even if you have no known link to a confirmed case.
There were some changes to the way that data is reported, involving “de-duplication,” that have driven the positivity rate up slightly. Dr. H said she is less concerned about the rising positivity rate than the rising number of new cases. Shelby County had 293 new cases yesterday which is more than we’ve seen for one day in some time.
A “Better Jefferson” project has emerged from the pandemic. It will focus on changes to the thoroughfare that runs from Riverside Drive through the medical district and out to Cleveland Street in Crosstown. The city’s bike and pedestrian program manager said “some lanes of traffic could be eliminated.”
WHO DAT! Loflin Yard will have a watch party for the Saints vs. Raiders game Monday with a shrimp boil and beer specials.
That’s it for this post. Off to work, then home where I will try to crank out another Medium article. If I get the article done I might consider a Blind Bear trip for dinner. Back tomorrow with more news.
An alarming post on Memphis Reddit was called to my attention yesterday afternoon. Criminals have been going around to parking garages and lots in the Downtown area and cutting catalytic converters off cars. “My car sounded like a drag racer,” said the person who reported the thefts on Reddit. If this happens to you, you should have your car towed to a mechanic immediately. The toxic fumes a car releases without a catalytic converter make it unsafe for you to drive and also are bad for the environment.
From The Balance: What to do if your catalytic converter was stolen. Crooks can cut this part off the underside of your car in under a minute. Vehicles that are parked higher up off the ground are at higher risk. Vehicles parked in the same space for several days are at risk too – which is the case for many cars whose owners both live and work Downtown.
Thanks to one of my neighbors, who pointed out something I missed in the comments – the reported theft happened in “the garage across from Raiford’s” on Second. That would be the garage where most of the car owners who live in my building park. Folks, go check your cars!
The mechanic told the original poster this was the fourth catalytic converter theft he had heard of in recent days. A commenter said that the same thing had happened out in The Edge in the Monroe-Marshall area.
How about taking advantage of that gorgeous weather brunching on a patio? Info from Cocozza, the pop-up Italian American restaurant inside The Majestic Grille:
Brunch is BACK at Main & Peabody Place! Starting THIS Sat & Sun, you’ll be able to enjoy an alfresco brunch on Main once again. Dine in only. Reservations Required. Call 901-523-0523 to book. Sat 11-2, Sun 10-2 Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Italian Sausage, Pepper & Onion Frittata, Florentine Benedict, Meatballs & Polenta, Country fried Steak & Eggs with mushroom gravy to make a few. Enjoy an Antipasti Bloody Mary, a Bellini or even a Majestic Mimosa! #cocozzamemphis #cocozza #majesticgrille #ghostrestaurant #brunch #brunchtime #majesticmimosa #americanitalianfood
Antipasti Bloody Mary? Yuuuummmmm! Note that you must have reservations.
The NCAA Division I Council has set November 25 as the date when men’s and women’s college basketball can start the 2020-2021 season. There will be no games including exhibitions or scrimmages before that date.
The University of Memphis has confirmed 46 COVID-19 cases, with 42 in athletics. The other four are in a cluster connected to the cheer squad. Football head coach Ryan Silverfield denied that all 42 athletics cases are connected to football.
WMC Action News 5 will broadcast an election countdown tonight at 9. They’ll have everything you need to know about the fall election including mail-in voting.
MATA has launched GO901, a new mobile fare website and smartphone app.
There’s a pay-what-you-can Kemetic Yoga class tonight at 6:30 at River Garden. With a sunset at 7:02, that should be beautiful. YOGA!
While reading Medium yesterday, I found three of the best links I’ve ever read about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The book I read last year addressed narcissism on the “doing” level: How do they get away with the things they do? These articles address narcissism on the “being” level: Why are narcissists the way they are?
These links are behind Medium’s paywall, and since they’re not my articles I can’t help you out with special URLs to circumvent it. If you run out of your monthly allotment of free Medium articles and don’t want to pay the $5 fee, try this: Google the term object constancy. Quora, the ask-a-question, get-an-answer website, also has a lot of good stuff.
I’ll even throw in a bonus. Google the narcissistic smirk. It’s one of their tell-tale signs and you can catch it in photos sometimes.
All right. Time to go to work, then after that, writing on Medium. I am really mad at myself for not publishing anything on that platform yesterday and am going to try to double up today. As usual, I’ll play the noon COVID-19 press conference by ear: It there’s news about the bars and restaurants, I’ll be back this afternoon with a report. Otherwise, the recap will be in tomorrow’s update.
In case you missed it, yesterday the Shelby County COVID-19 task force strongly implied that limited-service restaurants might be allowed to reopen, albeit with restrictions, next week. Keep scrolling past the end of this post for my task force press conference recap.
Shelby County Schools have postponed all sports for the fall because COVID RUINS EVERYTHING. Students and parents plan a peaceful protest at 10 this morning. Denied the opportunity for scouts to come to watch their games, some local high school seniors could miss out on athletic scholarships next year.
The Memphis hospitality industry set up an empty event in Tom Lee Park to highlight the financial suffering that sector of the job market is experiencing during the pandemic.
Jerk Chicken and Festival returns to Evelyn & Olive restaurant in The Edge today from 4 to 8. That is not a typo. “Get you a flavorful leg quarter with festival for only $4,” the Facebook event listing reads. I have never heard “festival” as a side dish before. It’s a Caribbean thing I guess?
The Orpheum will show 2002 film Bend it Like Beckham on the big screen Friday night at 7. The daughter of orthodox Sikhs rebels against her parents’ traditionalism and joins a soccer team. Rated PG-13. There will be social distancing and all that crap.
The NBA named its All-Rookie first team yesterday, and not surprisingly, Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke made the list. It’s the first time the Grizzlies have had two players named to the squad since 2002 (Pau Gasol, Shane Battier), and the first time the Grizzlies have had All-Rookie first teamers back-to-back (2019: Jaren Jackson Jr.).
Couple of pieces of Blind Bear news: Now that they’ve gone non-smoking, they’re all ages 7 AM to 3 PM, so bring the kids in for breakfast or lunch. They’ll start previewing the new menu Friday and fully roll it out next week.
For my readers not into pro wrestling, you’re dismissed, and if the COVID-19 task force press conference recap from yesterday is of interest, keep scrolling. Back tomorrow with more news.
Okay. Couple of comments about WWE Monday Night Raw.
First of all, did anyone else get the feeling that Mickie James may have been under the influence during her match with Asuka? Several times in the match, her legs looked wobbly, and it seemed like she didn’t know where she was. It reminded me of the 2011 Jeff Hardy-Sting match a good bit.
Second – at the end of Raw, Retribution came out and attacked Drew McIntyre and Keith Lee during their match. The Hurt Business came out and starting fighting Retribution outside the ring. McIntyre and Lee came flying over the top rope and took out everyone. The show closed with McIntyre and Lee standing there over the fallen, looking at each other like a couple of idiots.
WHY DIDN’T MCINTYRE AND LEE UNMASK RETRIBUTION????
Just a gaping storyline hole in my opinion.
Also, if The Hurt Business keeps kicking ass, they are going to have to be turned face out of necessity. See the Road Warriors ’85-’86 and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin ’96-’97 for the precedent. It’ll be another six to eight months, but it’ll have to happen.
Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Officer, provided a glimmer of hope for local businesses in today’s COVID-19 press conference.
He said that due to 7- and 14-day downward trends, he anticipates revisions to the health directive next week. There will still be restrictions, but “we will allow some things to be open.”
When pressed by a reporter, Dr. Randolph said he had received numerous calls from limited service restaurants. “I hear you,” he said, and “we will address that in some form or fashion.”
Randolph continued by saying that all restaurants – full-service and limited-service – will likely be held to the same standards in regard to safety measures and how they operate. He said that increased enforcement would be critical in the reopening, and that a team “will evaluate and assess your establishment according to safety measures in the health directive.” He said it is very important for establishments to have a copy of the directive to make sure they understand the measures.
Of course, the degree to which re-opening is allowed depends on data still coming in this week, reflecting results from Labor Day weekend.
The SCHD’s David Sweat noted that the reproductive rate of the virus has crept back up to 0.94, and that it rising above 1 again would be cause for concern. However, he noted, it rose to 0.94, 0.95 recently and then went back down.
Sweat also noted the health department is working with the University of Memphis investigating 36 COVID-19 cases on campus, including two clusters. One has been verified to be the football team. The second cluster is “not a residence but a group that share activities and training together.” He could not comment on how many infections were students and how many were staff.
The future sounds promising for Max’s Sports Bar, Silly Goose, and other Memphis limited-service restaurants, but let’s keep wearing those masks and social distancing to ensure they get back open. Back tomorrow with more news.