Thursday update

All-You-Can-Eat Thursday returns to AutoZone Park tonight, where fans purchasing a specialty ticket get access to a two-hour buffet. This week’s theme is breakfast, and items on the buffet will include scrambled eggs, sausage links, bacon, roasted potatoes, and bagels. Hot dogs will be part of the all-you-can-eat menu as well. $2 select beers around the park for Thirsty Thursday, and college students can get a bluff ticket for $5 with valid ID.

Walrus, an extremely popular Memphis band playing alternative sounds from the ’80s, will headline the Peabody rooftop party this evening along with special guest Logan Henderson. Admission is $15 general and $30 VIP and includes a buffet of mini meatballs and fried ravioli. If you’re in VIP you get an additional buffet of chicken parmesan skewers, mini muffalettas, and grilled Italian sausage. Tonight is Memphis Flyer Night on the rooftop and you can enter to win two tickets to Bonnaroo.

Tomorrow is the first South Main Trolley Night in nearly four years for which the steel-wheeled trolleys will actually be running. The Downtown Memphis Commission will offer free trolley rides for the first 100 guests, and after that rides will be just $1. To celebrate, a special South Main Stage will be set up at the bocce ball court at Main and Talbot, with House in the Mid-South playing 5:30-7:15 and The PRVLG 7:30-9:00. There will be other live music and DJs around the South Main District as well. South Main Association members, your member area will be near the South Main Stage this month, with complimentary food and beverages. Also, you can pick up your SMA membership card at the member area if you don’t already have it. What does the membership card get you? Discounts at

Civil Pour
Grecian Gourmet
Pontotoc Lounge
Silly Goose
Two Girls and a Whip
Walking Pants Curiosities

If you aren’t a member but this sounds like a great deal, inquire at the SMA member area about signing up for a yearly membership only $35. Between the gift card benefits, complimentary food at the monthly meetings, and complimentary food and beverages at the SMA member area at Trolley Night every month, this is a membership that pays for itself.

Last night I walked south to Max’s Sports Bar and made some discoveries. First of all, the new Explore Bike Share station at Main and Talbot is up and running.

The Memphis Daily News has coverage of the Explore Bike Share launch that happened yesterday.

Further down Main, I discovered that the shop that used to be Sache (525 S. Main) is now Bumpus South Main Harley Davidson.

That’s a big change… from custom shirt printing and hair extensions to motorcycles in under two months. Wow.

When I arrived at Max’s Sports Bar I intended to get Purple Drank, but bartender Mike suggested I get Tiger’s Blood Coke instead.

After I got back north I won trivia at Blind Bear. I had two partners, but they were ineligible for the gift card because one is an employee and the other is a troll. The question that won it for us: Name an African country that formerly had a 9-letter name beginning with A. Answer: Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia)

The MBJ has a photo gallery of the progress made in the Central Station redevelopment. The 8-screen Malco Theater is set to open around Thanksgiving, and the hotel in around a year. There will also be a restaurant, a ballroom, and non-restaurant retail space as well as the Amtrak station itself.

High Ground News has coverage of a co-working space at 340 Monroe in The Edge District that will provide a place for artists and creatives to work and collaborate. The space will be by the artists, for the artists, and will be a place that’s ideal for those in between working out of their home and having their own studio or workshop.

In other news about The Edge, Yappy Hour is tonight at 6 in Triangle Park, the off-leash dog park. I have to admit I had no idea where Triangle Park was, and had to pull up Google Maps and put it in satellite view. The park borders Madison, Orleans, and Monroe. Across Monroe there is a parking lot, which Google Maps told me three people had given a 5-star rating. Who rates a parking lot?

The Flying Saucer has a new happy hour. Tuesday-Friday 4-7 PM all of their beers on draft (ALL of them) are $4 each. Those of you looking to get 200 beers to get a plate just got a way to get some of those beers done more cheaply.

My lunch adventure yesterday was a return trip to Neil’s Music Room for one of their specials: chicken fried steak.

Neil’s meat-and-two lunch is very reasonably priced at $6.99. The white beans were the real standout, and the steak, cornbread and the mashed potatoes were very good as well (although my buddy Chicken Fried Steak Rodger will surely have something to say about brown gravy as opposed to white gravy). Check them out if you’re nearby and in the need of a good, wholesome lunch.

That’ll do it for now. Back tomorrow with more news.

 

Wednesday update

Downtown took a major step forward yesterday: The State Building Commission’s executive committee approved the addition of Mud Island and the riverfront to the city’s Downtown Tourism Zone. This will pave the way for an aquarium to be built on Mud Island, and for the Brooks Museum to move Downtown. Of course, there are many more steps ahead, the next of which is a feasibility study, but the first hurdle has been cleared.

I headed over to Sleep Out Louie’s for their grand opening last night. Pam & Terry had already wrapped up their performance, but good news: They’ll be performing at Sleep Out’s every Friday and Saturday in June from 7 to 10 PM. I’ve already been talking to a couple of the original Sleep Out’s regulars/employees about finding a night to meet up.

Explore Bike Share launches today. You’ll be able to rent a bike by the ride, day, month or year and pick up a bike from one of dozen convenient locations. Here is a station map showing where you can pick up and drop off bikes.

Stone Temple Pilots play the New Daisy tonight. Doors at 7, show at 8.

The Redbirds host Oklahoma City tonight at 6:35. They’ll have a treat for Thursday’s game: Alex Reyes, one of the top Cardinals prospects, will be pitching a rehab game here.

The tickets for Nine Inch Nails: Cold and Black and Infinite Tour that did not sell last Saturday will be put online for sale Thursday at 10 AM.

The Grizz Den, the Grizzlies store in FedExForum, will extend its hours to 7 PM today through Friday, with most merchandise 50% off.

Belle Tavern has Maker’s Mark Cask Strength half off this week through Sunday.

Oshi is adding a bingo night on Sundays at 6 with host Pattie O’Furniture.

Some of the Start Co. tech startups are looking for summer interns. In the past talented high school students have gained valuable experience working for Start Co.’s affiliated startup companies.

2018 BBQ Fest winners have been posted. I forgot to congratulate another of our local BBQ teams in my posts this week. Porkosaurus tied for first in tomato-based sauce. If you didn’t get to try it at BBQ Fest, you can buy it on Amazon.

Interesting wrestling fact I came across today: WCW held Great American Bash 1986, one of its major events of the year, at the Liberty Bowl. The event had all the big names: Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, the Road Warriors, the Midnight Express, the Rock ‘n Roll Express. Yet it drew less than 2000 fans. The reason? No Jerry Lawler and no promotion on Memphis Wrestling TV. Memphis wrestling fans are loyal. Credit to Jim Cornette for tweeting that information.

For yesterday’s lunch I went to Asian Eatery, one of the few Asian places near work I haven’t yet tried. I ordered the Tom Yum soup, also known as Thai gumbo.

This is a soup with thin rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, bell pepper, onion, scallion, tomato, bean sprouts and mushrooms topped with cilantro and jalapeno. “It’s spicy,” the server warned me when I ordered. I ensured her I was fine. It was hot when it came out – not in terms of spice but temperature. I had to stir it for about 5 minutes to let it cool down. Once I finally started eating, I found that the soup was in no way overpoweringly spicy. If you can tolerate spice at all you will be fine. A delicious and filling meal. Asian Eatery is in the same center as West St. Diner on West Street in Germantown.

Going to hit happy hour at Max’s Sports Bar after work, then over to Blind Bear to hear Charvey at 10. Back tomorrow with more news.

Pam & Terry to play Sleep Out Louie’s tonight

They’ve been doing a soft opening for about a week, but today is the Grand Opening of the new Sleep Out Louie’s. The opening will be from 5-til, and very appropriately given the history of the old Sleep Out Louie’s, Pam & Terry will be playing. The new Sleep Out’s is next door to Texas de Brazil on Second Street.

The final two Memphis in May events happen this Saturday.

Great American River Run is a half-marathon and 5K taking place on the banks of the Mississippi and through Downtown Memphis. After the run, there is a post-race party with food, drinks and live music.

901 Fest is a celebration of our great city at Tom Lee Park Saturday afternoon and evening, with local live music, local food for sale, and local vendors. There will also be an air show, fireworks, knockerball and Zorb ball, a creative arts tent, and a cornhole tournament.

Most people have Monday off, and if you’re looking for something fun to do late night Sunday, I have a suggestion: FreeWorld is having a grand celebration for their founding father Dr. Herman Green’s 88th birthday at the Blues City Band Box. The evening will be full of surprises and musical guests honoring Dr. Green. Should be a special night.

Classic film To Kill a Mockingbird will be shown at Cemetery Cinema at Elmwood Cemetery this Friday from 8:30 to 11 PM. The La Guadalupana and MemPoPS food trucks will be on site, and libations will be available for purchase. Children 12 and under are not permitted at Cemetery Cinema, nor are pets.

I hate to post bad stuff about Downtown, but this time it’s necessary: Police are showing photos of a person of interest in a sexual assault investigation. The assault happened in an alley near Front and Vance Sunday, May 6 around 5 AM. That would be Music Fest weekend, a prime weekend for predators looking for victims.

Also, shots were fired at a horse carriage Saturday night of BBQ Fest near Front and Pontotoc.

Some random BBQ Fest musings

One of my most treasured moments in the booth this year was when the family of a team member who passed away came to visit. I realized I taught his sister math at the U of M in the 1990s. His 18-year-old son, planning to major in computer science, asked if I had any advice. “Do some side projects, projects that interest you,” I told him. “That’ll build up a portfolio for you that you can put on your resume, giving you an advantage over other new graduates when you finish school.”

“What if a project I want to work on is not related to my career?” he asked.

“Then ESPECIALLY do it,” was my reply. I know a guy who has been doing a side project for 14 years, and while not related to his career it has brought him much success, happiness, and connectedness to the community. In case you haven’t figured it out, you’re reading that side project right now.

It still makes me laugh that the troll recruited two of our members. It started with a conversation at Bardog on a day when I had forgot to take my troll out of my pocket and set her on the bar. “Where’s the troll?” I was asked, and that led to a conversation about BBQ. (The troll is Deputy Director of Public Relations for the team.)

I’m also very happy that I recruited my friend Mac to join the cooking team, consisting of our members who had previously competed in regionals as Memphis Squeal and our 2015-17 pitmaster Frank. From what I’ve been told, Mac was a fantastic addition to the cook team, and he said he learned a ton from the others because he’d never done shoulder before. “I’m so happy to be back cooking and I can’t wait for 2019,” he told me Saturday after the festival was over.

Thursday night was the best, dancing with teammates and their guests until midnight. Wait, no, make that second best. Nothing beats finding out we had a trophy that wanted to meet us.

I apologize to anyone who I cut a conversation short with Friday night. I was feeling sick and it was a combination of the heat and too many people being around. I left the park around 9 that night.

Back to my East Memphis lunches

Yesterday I tried another new place (new to me) not far from my office, Amerigo Italian Restaurant in East Memphis. I got the Cannelloni al Forno, an egg pasta stuffed with roasted chicken, spinach, ricotta cheese, fresh herbs and Parmesan; topped with mozzarella, tomato and cream sauces.

It came with bread and oil for dipping. My entree was out quick and I was in and out in 40 minutes. I will be back to try other menu items. I like it that they have their full dinner menu available at lunch and not just the lunch menu.

Plans for tonight: Given my commute from Germantown, I don’t get out until around 5:45 these days. Sleep Out Louie’s will probably be packed with ServiceMaster folk around that time, so I will lead off at Blind Bear then head over to hear Pam & Terry 7:00-7:30ish after the place has cleared out a bit. Back tomorrow with more news.

Monday update

A Memphis in May Panel of Grillers will be the presentation at tomorrow night’s monthly Downtown Neighborhood Association at Beale Street Landing (6:00 social, 6:30 program). There will be BBQ catering by Hog Wild BBQ and a wine and beer bar. Free for DNA members, $10 visitors.

The experiment with bike lanes and a pedestrian promenade with seating on Peabody Place is coming to an end. It was an interesting project but it was under-used. The lack of turn lanes clogged traffic turning into garages and parking lots for FedExForum and Orpheum events. Peabody Place will be reverted to its previous striping next month.

The week before BBQ Fest I posted that I visited the new Sleep Out Louie’s, and that it had a great menu and friendly staff but the beer prices ($4 for a PBR 16 oz. can) were a bit high. Last week Sleep Out’s tweeted me that they had reduced PBR prices to $3 per can, very much in line with what surrounding bars charge. At happy hour the PBR is $2.50. I’ll try to get in there for a second visit soon.

I want to give a little link love to local coffee maker Launch Process Coffee. They had a free giveaway at the Blind Bear Saturday to introduce their product – unfortunately, the place was nearly empty due to BBQ Fest. The guy behind Launch Process came up and introduced himself (knew me by name) and offered to make me a cup of gourmet coffee. Trouble was, I am not a coffee drinker. I felt bad that he didn’t have a better launch. BBQ Fest is just a bad week to schedule any kind of event Downtown.

As your number one source of news and information about The Edge District, I want to link to a couple of articles that seem to have been missed by other sites. High Ground News has a great piece on the transformation of 10 acres in The Edge by Development Services Group (DSG). There will be a mix of office space, residential, and retail, and will adapt existing buildings and add new ones.

Meanwhile, the CA has news on the plan for the Edge Motor Museum at 645 Marshall. The blue streamers at Monroe and Marshall attracted Richard Vining to the neighborhood and helped convince him to buy the building, formerly a guitar workshop. Edge Motor Museum will house vintage cars and have a display on the history of American sports cars.

The Redbirds return to town for a game against Oklahoma City tonight at 6:35 (gates at 5:30). No special promotions tonight, just good baseball to be watched.

High Ground News has information about the Mini Ramp SK8 Jam held by Memphis Athletic Ministries at the Greenlaw Community Center on May 12. This was an all-ages skateboarding competition.

As I typed yesterday’s post about my own team The Moody Ques’ success at BBQ Fest, and in part because I was so tired I could barely put words together, I neglected to mention that my second BBQ family/fellow shoulder team Squeal Street BBQ also enjoyed success, improving from last year’s score in the 20s all the way up to 14th this year (out of 57 teams). They are applying a Memphis style of grit-n-grind to their BBQ strategy that brings incremental improvements every year. There aren’t many increments left before they will jump into the top 10.

That’s it for now. Back on my regular blogging schedule, so I should be back tomorrow with more news and a non-BBQ lunch photo.

7th place in Shoulder

“The Moody Ques are competing in Best Microwave Popcorn this year.”

“Best Booth? So you guys are a decorating team competing in a cooking contest?”

“There are 55 teams competing in Shoulder this year, so somehow the Moody Ques will find a way to finish 56th.”

Those are some of the jokes that have been hurled our way since the Moody Ques formed in 2012. We’ve won non-cooking awards at BBQ Fest, and we’ve won cooking awards at regionals, but up until this year a BBQ Fest cooking trophy has eluded us. Something always seemed to come up and trash our score – cooker not holding temperature, ash not being properly cleaned out. Even something as picky as a serving table not being the right size could cost us points on presentation. We had to look all the way back to 2008, when our predecessor team the Ques Brothers took 3rd in Shoulder, to remember what a BBQ Fest cooking trophy looked like.

About 4:30 yesterday I was standing in our booth when I heard our treasurer Misty scream. A BBQ Fest ambassador had just handed her a letter saying we need to be at the awards ceremony at 6:30, because we were going to receive a trophy. The drought had come to an end!

We threw beer and Jello shots in our cart and headed to the stage. They started the Shoulder awards at number 10. Every time they announced a team and it wasn’t us, we cheered. Movin’ on up like George Jefferson!

Finally it was time for Ron Childers to call our name. “In seventh place in the Shoulder division, The Moody Ques!”

I am so excited. We have finally come up with a winning recipe. When I say that, I don’t mean just the meat. I mean, the overall organization of the team. We had no problem recruiting members, plus we had great sponsors and a lead on another one for 2019. Our T-shirts were on point. We had great music and a great bartender. There was no drama in the booth at all, highly unusual for any BBQ team. Our booth was packed on Thursday and Friday night. People were raving about the food, especially the smoked ham that was served for dinner Friday.

Congratulations to all my teammates on a strong year. I can’t wait for 2019.

Sorry the blog has been lacking in posts this week. I’m just dead tired. I’ll pick it back up the next day or two.

BBQ Fest Day 1: Wednesday

The first public day of BBQ Fest, no longer Friends & Family Night, has come and gone. We already have one achievement of which I am quite proud:

Koozies! I have wanted these for a while. For one thing, I go out to a lot of places selling PBR in cans or bottles. I have been missing out on opportunities to promote the team! I also got tired of seeing our team members carrying around other teams’ koozies. So I got our vice-president to pull the trigger on a koozie order 2 weeks ago. Teammates, find me in the booth to get yours if you haven’t already.

Yesterday was “The Misty Show” for sure as we got the booth in order. Her attention to detail is why the booth was such in good shape by the time guests started arriving at 5. We appreciate all she does for the team and the free entertainment she gives us along the way.

A couple of weeks ago we had a taco bar at work for Cinco de Mayo. Well, last night was Sesenta de Mayo for the Moody Ques.

Tortillas and chips. Shout out to the cook team for having both flour and corn tortillas.

Pork shoulder

Pico de gallo

“Redneck caviar”

Aaron’s banana pudding. I didn’t get a photo of Laura’s chocolate chip brownies but they were delicious as well.

Team shirts for this year

Special thanks to DSV for coming on board as our main sponsor. Great to have you with us!

Putting the finishing touches on our Prague astronomical clock booth design

In the background you can see the 30-foot air conditioned rig our cook team is using this year.

Back to the park for BBQ Fest Thursday. This tends to be the most fun day because our cook team isn’t preparing the championship meat yet and the amateurs wait until Friday to come. One note: We have 55 team members and our booth capacity is 120 (70 down, 50 up). We will hit capacity at the peak times and the fire marshal will order us to stop letting people in. If I can’t let you in immediately I promise you it is nothing personal.

Quick stop at Bardog then back to the park.

A look at the 409 S. Main South Main Market food hall

Last Sunday I had brunch at Pontotoc Lounge at what the locals call D-RANKS with B-RAD. I had the pleasure of meeting Pedro Velazquez of the Memphis Latin Porkers, a hog team at BBQ Fest. Pedro is also one of the people renovating 64 S. Main into a one-stop health shop and restaurant. After Pontotoc several of us headed south to the food hall at 409 S. Main where I took some photos.

Check out the food hall if you haven’t already. Excited to see this concept come to Memphis.

Back to D-RANKS with B-RAD this morning to show him my new team T-shirt. I don’t have team bag pickup duty today so I may walk down to Tom Lee Park and see what’s going on at our booth.

Saturday update

I’ll start off this post with the funniest question I have been asked in a bar at a while. This happened a couple of weeks ago. A guy came up to me and said, “So I guess you’re a huge Star Wars fan, aren’t you?”

“Well, I’ve seen all the movies, and most of them were really good,” I replied. “But I don’t know if I would call myself a huge fan. Why do you ask?”

He said, “Well, isn’t that Yoda you have standing on the bar?”

The Memphis River Parks Partnership will not re-open the restaurant in Beale Street Landing this year. Instead, the restaurant area will be used as a community gathering space.

Speaking of which, the monthly Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting will be at Beale Street Landing on Tuesday, May 22. Free for members, $10 non-members. Complimentary wine and beer bar. 6:00 social, 6:30 presentation by a panel of Memphis grillers. Hey DNA, if you’re looking to fill spots on the panel, I can send the Deputy Director of Public Relations of my BBQ team (pictured above) over.

Tonight is Grit ‘n Good Luck Night at AutoZone Park. The Redbirds are in the NBA draft lottery spirit and have partnered with the Memphis Grizzlies for several promotions tonight. First 5000 fans in the gate (gates at 5 PM, first pitch 6:35) will get a magnet. Postgame there will be launch-a-ball for the chance to win a meet-and-greet with the Grizzlies’ draft pick (just think – YOU could win the chance to meet the Hasheem Thabeet of this decade!) Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff will throw the first pitch and there will be performances by Grizzlies entertainment groups. There’s a Grit ‘n Good Luck ticket package that gets you into tonight’s game, the annual Grit ‘n Grind Night on August 17, and a ticket to the Grizzlies 2018-19 season home opener.

The Center for Southern Folklore hosts An Evening with Zeke Johnson tonight. Come hear Zeke play the blues and tell blues stories. It’s a free show but donations are accepted.

Info for my vegetarian readers:

The silent disco phenomenon comes to Club 152 tonight as Hush Silent International Party takes over the third floor. DJ Dnyce, DJ Rice and DJ Static will battle for your attention. “Come vibe to one of the most diverse crowd that you’ll ever come across while jamming to Afro-beats, Dancehall, Hip-Hop, Salsa, Soca, Reggae, Zouk & Habesha not forgetting old school classicals for our 70’s and 80’s fans in the house.”

Moody Ques teammates: Those peanut butter cookies from the bakery in Kennett, Missouri will be back Friday. Even if you are a “I don’t eat sweets” kind of person, this is cause to make an exception.

Off for a day of BBQ team work. Got to check with our Thursday-Friday bartender to make sure she has everything she needs, then I’m off to do team bag handout duty. Posts will be erratic the next 8 days, but I will try to be back tomorrow with more news.