Friday update: Virtual Volunteer Day is today

Volunteer Odyssey hosts Virtual Volunteer Day on their Facebook page all day long today. They’ll broadcast live, introducing you to their nonprofit partners (a new one each hour). They’ll have projects you can do from where you are, with materials you already have on hand. Share your experiences on social media using the tag #VolunteerOdyssey. Partners/projects include

  • Wolf River Conservancy and Memphis Transformed
  • Spreading Sunshine
  • Levitt Shell
  • Memphis Botanic Garden
  • Room in the Inn
  • Overton Park
  • Child Advocacy Center
  • MIFA

Virtual Volunteer Day is kid-friendly and you can complete as many of the projects as you want. Those who live outside of Memphis are welcome to join.

The Rendezvous is opening back up at 50% capacity for lunch and dinner. They will open at 11 AM and for the time being will close at 8 PM. They say a later closing time will make more sense once sporting events and concerts return.

Quench Wine & Spirits is offering online ordering, pick-up and curbside delivery during the pandemic. Order on their website and pick up at 99 S. Second Street across from the Peabody.

South Main Sushi is expanding their take-out hours to 4:00-8:30 PM.

Set your DVR to record the June 11 edition of “TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.” B.J. Chester-Tamayo of Alcenia’s will cook with Hoda and Jenna. Those of you reading this blog from out of town, if you want a taste of Memphis, Alcenia’s new online store ships many items nationwide. It has pies, bread pudding and chow-chow, as well as non-food items like a soul food cookbook.

If you like sweets, might want to take a walk around Beale this week. A friend of mine went to Dyer’s yesterday to pick up an order and on the way back, a woman stopped him and gave him a free dozen Insomnia Cookies. I had a S’mores cookie and it was excellent.

No protest was planned for last night, but one broke out anyway following a civil disobedience training class at the National Civil Rights Museum. Organizer Frank Gottie has called for a protest at Poplar and Highland tonight at 6.

New Wing Order has announced their special flavor for the month of June: Tom’s Tiger Wings, which have a sweet orange flavor with a touch of heat.

The Downtown Local is looking for a lead cook/chef and a line cook. Email to apply or come by any day between 4 and 6 PM.

Caught up on the Downtown gossip this week… so tempted to reach out to someone I’ve never officially met and tell them they’re about to make a huge mistake. Naaah I guess I will mind my own bizness and let life lessons be learned the hard way. Meanwhile I’ll just sit here and play with my trolls. I have a whole stable of them y’know.

Speaking of trolls, Socially Distant Perjorie made a new friend yesterday:

Former Secretary of Defense and retired Marine general Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis penned an opinion piece this week, denouncing his former boss Donald Trump. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.” Mattis’s rebuke was praised by Republican senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski as “stunning,” “powerful,” “overdue.” If you agree with Mattis, you have a chance to save democracy on November 3.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow with more news.


Thursday update

Got a lot of news today, but I’ll start off with a trivia question, one I discovered yesterday as I was studying for Blind Bear trivia. Last night had a round titled “Eggcellent Eggs.” The question wasn’t among those asked, but I wanted to share it anyway because the answer was rather surprising.

Chicken eggs can be either white or brown. What is the factor that determines the color of the egg? Answer at the end of this post.

The big news is that the DA in Minneapolis has announced new charges in the George Floyd case. Derek Chauvin, the officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, has had his murder charge upgraded from third-degree to second-degree. The three other officers who were on the scene were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Let’s hear it for the good guys: Downtown Express food mart at Second and Madison opened their doors to the protesters last night and offered free drinks and snacks.

The Daily Memphian has a recap of last night’s protest march. The tone of the marches has changed, and it sounds like they are about people of all races coming together to love and support one another.

Organizer DeVante Hill announced to the group that there will be no protest tonight or tomorrow night, and they will meet up Saturday at the I AM A MAN Plaza at 6:30. There will also be a “family day” protest at 4 PM Sunday and churches are encouraged to bring families and children.

Mayor Strickland announced that city leaders will meet with Hill and fellow organizer Frank Gottie several times over the next few weeks to come up with ways to end structural racism and change police policies.

The second big piece of news today is that Memphis Tigers assistant coach Mike Miller is stepping down. He wants to spend more time with his family. He has two sons in high school who both play basketball. Miller had been a star recruiter for Penny Hardaway, able to flash NBA championship rings to show where playing for Penny can lead you. Geoff Calkins: With Miller gone, pressure increases on Hardaway

The third big piece of news is that the NBA has announced a plan for restarting the season to be submitted to its Board of Governors. Here are key points of the plan:

  • All play would happen in a tightly-controlled environment in Orlando, in an attempt to keep the coronavirus out.
  • 22 teams of the NBA’s 30 would be invited to Orlando, the cutoff being teams that were within 6 games of a playoff spot when the season was suspended in March.
  • Around July 31, teams will play out an 8-game end to the regular season.
  • There could be a play-in series to determine the number 8 seeds, giving the number 9 teams an opportunity to steal the seed from the 8th place team at the end of the regular season.
  • The NBA Finals would likely be in October.

The Grizzlies, currently in 8th place in the West, would be invited under the terms of the plan, but they would have to fight through the 8-game regular season and possibly the play-in games to retain their playoff spot.

Announcements from MATA:

The Memphis Farmers Market Crop Hop 5K is going virtual this year. Run a 5K June 20 or 21, submit your time to the website, and post a selfie of you with hashtag #crophop5k. Registration is $20 and includes a MFM tote bag and a $3 coupon for use at the Market.

Regina’s Cajun Kitchen in the Lincoln-American Tower posted that when you dine in, you get a free five-piece Mango Habanero (wings, I’m assuming) when you spend $10 or more.

Cat’s Ballroom will present a free beginner dance class outside the Downtown Memphis Commission building at Main and Adams Friday, June 12 from 8 to 9 PM. Bring a partner and learn a few steps on a romantic, safe date night. Masks are required and they will space people out.

Cordelia’s Market will host The Giving Grill Saturday from 11 AM to 1 PM. This is a community grill-0ut to benefit 275 Food Project.

117 Prime has re-opened for dinner. Key things to know:

  • 5 PM to 10 PM (but keep in mind there’s a 10 PM to 6 AM curfew currently)
  • Bar will open an hour early, at 4 PM. Happy hour at the bar 4 to 7 PM, with $1 Gulf oysters, $5 cocktails and glasses of wine, and $3 local and domestic beers (last time I was in there they didn’t have PBR).
  • Curbside and to-go menus still available 11 to 3 for lunch and 4 to 9 for dinner.
  • Limited capacity
  • Employees will wear PPE and wash their hands frequently
  • When you enter, a non-invasive temperature check is done and you have to sanitize your hands
  • Masks are not required, but guests are encouraged to wear them anytime not at the table

Speaking of those temperature checks… someone I know went to a restaurant this week and had his temperature taken with one of those forehead thermometers. He was told, “98.6… you just barely made it. Point-4 more and we’d have to ask you to leave.” 99.0 seems like an awfully low threshold. Bodily temperature fluctuates and it’s possible for it to be in the low 99s at times, after exercising for example. 99.6 or 100.0 sound like much more reasonable limits.

Edible Memphis has updated its black-owned restaurants guide. Some of Downtown’s best restaurants are black-owned, including Alcenia’s, Cozy Corner, LUNCHBOXeats, Sage, and many more.

From Lifehacker: The phone settings you need to know before protesting. These settings are especially relevant here in Memphis, where police have been known to violate consent decrees in their tracking of protesters and activists.

Robusto by Havana’s Mix will host a My Father Cigars event Friday, June 19 from 5 to 9 PM. This smokers’ event is the perfect opportunity for you to pick up some cigars for your father for Father’s Day.

A new graphic novel called Pandemica came out this week. At the time it was written, the author had no idea there would be an actual pandemic at the time of the release.

Silly Goose is known for its pizzas, but they have pasta too. Any pizza topping can be a pasta ingredient, but several of my friends have had great success with this formula:

  • Ask to speak to Dylan
  • Tell him what color you prefer (red, white, or green – meaning sauce)
  • Tell him if there’s anything you don’t eat
  • Answer a few questions of his as to what you like

Do this and about 10 minutes later you’ll have delicious pasta in front of you. Dylan is one of those chefs were “make me something good” is a great way to order. He enjoys it and you get to discover new pasta dishes. By Health Department regulations, all food has to be served in disposable containers, so don’t be surprised when your pasta comes out in a foil-lined pizza box rather than a bowl.

Trivia answer: The color of the egg is determined by the color of the hen that lays it. White hens lay white eggs, and red and brown hens lay brown eggs.

Jeannette took reservations for Blind Bear trivia, even bar stools, to enforce the 6-foot rule. She wanted us to come up with team names in advance so she could put them on the reservation signs. I had trouble coming up with anything good, but then my socially distant troll pointed out that we were under house arrest the entire month of April. Therefore, anything that happened that month was fair game to use as a name. I thought back to that time the president of the United States suggested we ingest disinfectants to prevent the coronavirus.

That was good for a $10 gift card for Best Team Name. I must have studied the wrong eggs, though, because we didn’t finish in the top three.

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

Wednesday update: Phase 2 of re-opening extended

Yesterday Mayor Strickland extended Phase 2 of the Back to Business reopening plan by more than a week, to June 16. With 190 new cases reported yesterday, Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph called the numbers “alarming” and said “we don’t want to go back” and that it was up to the public to wear face masks to ensure that we don’t.

Dr. Randolph attributed the rise in cases to “community transmission in general” and not to clustering in areas like jails or to events like Memorial Day. He said that if the increasing trend continues, the health department will consider mandating that everyone wear a mask in public.

Dr. Randolph announced that health-friendly businesses, ones that require all people who enter (employees and customers) to wear a mask,  will be listed on the health department website. Good way to get a little free publicity and let your customers know they’ll be protected against the virus when they come in.

Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick has reopened for dining inside. To ensure everyone’s safety, he has put rules in place, including:

  • You must get your temperature checked upon entering, and if your temperature is 100.4F or higher you will be asked to leave.
  • You have to have a face mask on at all times when you are away from your table – when you come in, when you get up to go smoke or use the restroom.
  • No tables of more than 4, except for two in the lobby set up for 6. Customers are asked not to move tables together. Tables are spaced 6 feet apart.

Memphis Food & Wine Festival is calling off their 2020 festival. The event was scheduled for October 17, but thanks to the coronavirus that date is now Saturday of Music Fest. The food and wine festival will be back “bigger and better than ever” in 2021.

Comma Comedians who perform at restaurants and breweries around town will have a comedy show online on Zoom this evening from 8 to 9.

Memphis River Parks Partnership will hold a Tom Lee Park Engagement Pop-Up tonight to share information about the new design proposal.

Blind Bear trivia is on tonight for a 6 PM curfew-adjusted start time.

Downtown Walgreens now has all its windows boarded up. It is open for business, however.

I hate to sound like an alarmist, and I pray this scenario never comes to pass, but…

What’s your plan, Stan?

Three of the four officers involved in the killing of George Floyd have still not been charged. Worst-case scenario, suppose the DA finds insufficient evidence to charge them with murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. People are going to be angry and there could be riots. If that happens:

  • If you live Downtown and work in another part of the city, what’s your plan to get home?
  • If you have kids in day care, what’s your plan to pick them up and get them to safety?
  • Do you have food in the house to last several days, as well as other essential supplies including the Holy Grail of supplies, toilet paper?
  • If you live in a ground-floor apartment or condo, what’s your plan if rioting comes to your neighborhood?
  • If you own a business, what’s your plan for getting your customers and employees out safely?
  • If you normally park your vehicle on the street, what’s your plan to keep it from being vandalized?

Might be a good idea to download a national news app and enable notifications, so you will know the fate of those cops as soon as it happens.

I’ll end this post with something I saw on social media yesterday that makes a lot of sense. People say

“It’s horrible that black people are being killed, but we must not allow businesses to be vandalized”

When what they need to do is reverse it and say

“It’s horrible that businesses are being vandalized, but we must not allow the killing of black people”

Back tomorrow with more news, or later today possibly.



Tuesday update

Mayor Strickland and Police Director Rallings called a special news conference yesterday afternoon. Because the protests turned violent Sunday night, requiring the use of tear gas, and because there was property damage, Strickland is imposing a 10 PM to 6 AM curfew nightly until further notice. “If you’re out during that time, you can be arrested,” the mayor said.

On my block of Main, the windows of Flight, Walgreens, and Winfield’s (a minority-owned clothing store) were broken out.

The curfew will surely continue at least as long as the nightly protests do. Frank Gottie, one of the organizers of the protests, is that the plan is for them to continue until the three other Minneapolis PD officers in the murder of George Floyd are arrested.

Bar & restaurant hours affected

Keep in mind that the curfew does not mean that bars and restaurants will close at 10. The people who work there have to be at home themselves by that hour.

I was in both the Silly Goose and the Blind Bear yesterday, and both of them had a plan to close their kitchens at 8, do a hard last call at 8:30, and have everyone out and the doors locked by 9.

I’ve seen some restaurants that have announced last delivery  orders taken at 7:00 and last seating for dine-in at 7:30 so that they have time to close up shop and get home before the curfew.

Also, patio dining may not be available for a while. Let me explain why…

Early yesterday afternoon, I was sitting at the Silly Goose watching a video activist Hunter Demster had been sent. The person who shot the video said that bricks and concrete slabs were being placed near Downtown businesses, so that people would have convenient weapons to throw through businesses’ windows.

About an hour after that, a car pulled up outside the Silly Goose and a woman came in, very agitated. She repeated the story about bricks being left for use as weapons, and that she and her group were sweeping the area and had found a few left outside and wanted to warn the owner.

Important point here… SHE DIDN’T BRING ONE OF THE BRICKS IN TO SHOW US. That makes me wonder if this was part of a disinformation campaign. However, it concerned management to the point that they moved all the patio furniture inside, and other bar and restaurant owners were texted about the threat and some did the same.

On to the news…

The Blind Bear brought trivia back last week, and it was a complete success, with people remaining socially distanced while having one of their normal weekly activities back. However, trivia start time has traditionally been 7:30, which won’t work if they need to have everyone out at 9. This is not set in stone yet, but Jeannette is considering the idea of moving start time back to 6:00 this Wednesday.

The Blind Bear is getting a 16-foot shuffleboard table. One of the poker tables will have to go to make room, but booths will be added to make up the seating space.

Happy Mexican posted that they are re-opening their Downtown location for dine-in today.

The interior of Royal Furniture is getting cleaned out in preparation for its conversion to a hotel. Even the bedroom set that lights up is gone.

Puck Food Hall will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a cookout on its newly upgraded patio Saturday, June 6 from 2 to 8 PM. Come socially distance while enjoying burgers and sausages with fries. All their vendors plan to be open regular hours Saturday, although I suspect the curfew may affect that a bit.

BBQ egg rolls have returned to the menu at Kooky Canuck.

Things are getting back closer to normal at Ghost River Brewing Co., and they’re expanding their hours:

  • Wednesday 4-9 PM
  • Thursday 4-9 PM
  • Friday 12-9 PM
  • Saturday 12-9 PM
  • Sunday 12-8 PM

The new hours were posted about an hour before the curfew was announced, so the 9 PM closing times may possibly be adjusted to give taproom employees time to get home.

The June 14 River Rat Rounders poker fundraiser for Alive Memphis, scheduled to be held at the Green Beetle, was canceled.

The latest business to fall to the coronavirus is Binghampton’s Caritas Village. The dining and meeting space isn’t closed for good, but will be at least for the summer.

Want to know what it’s like to get tested for COVID-19? Read an account from The Daily Memphian’s Jennifer Biggs. She said it couldn’t have been easier.

Cheers to the Memphis Grizzlies for giving employees paid time off to vote.

Think 2020 isn’t crazy enough already? Let me show you a really ugly picture.

Presidential election scenario…

Trump wins Ohio and Iowa, which are really more reliably red than they are swing states now.

Biden wins Virginia, which is really more reliably blue than a swing state now.

Biden wins Pennsylvania, where RealClearPolitics has him up 6.5%, nearly enough to declare PA “leaning Biden” as opposed to “toss-up.”

Biden wins NE-2, Nebraska’s congressional district containing progressive Omaha.

Biden wins Michigan, which seems very possible given Trump is doing everything he can to look like a raving lunatic in that state.

However, Trump hangs on to win Arizona, a state many thought would flip blue this year. Trump also wins swing states Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

That would give us this map.

Click the map to create your own at


An Electoral College tie would throw the election to the House of Representatives, with each state delegation receiving one vote, 26 needed to win. At this point it wouldn’t matter who won the election – the opposing party would spend the next four years claiming we have a president who wasn’t elected by the people. If this map is the one we get, we might be better off saying this “America” experiment was fun for most of the 244 years it lasted, and asking the Queen if she’d like her 13 colonies back and 37 additional ones.

Some of the chants from the protest last night

“I’ve got my hands above my head!”
“Please don’t shoot me dead!”

“Say his name!”
“George Floyd!”
“Say his name!”
“George Floyd!”
“George Floyd!”

“Hey, hey, ho, ho!”
“Racist cops have got to go!”

“When I can’t breathe, you can’t breathe!”

“Memphis, Light, Gas…”

“Let them go!” (meaning, the arrested protesters)

Apologies for no post yesterday. It just felt appropriate to take a day off.

Back tomorrow.

Sunday update

Pre-orders are now being taken for the Memphis Flyer Coloring Book. This gives you something to do safe at home, and supports local journalism and art. Proceeds will be split 50/50 between the Flyer and the artists.

The Starbucks at the corner of Main and Monroe will re-open for to-go orders starting tomorrow.

Last week a video went viral showing a massive pool party at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, the crowd totally ignoring warnings to socially distance and wear masks. We all knew this was going to happen… someone who attended the pool parties has tested positive for COVID-19. Doctors believe the virus was incubating at the time of the parties, meaning the person posed a danger of infecting others.

COGIC has canceled its annual convention in St. Louis, the last one planned to be held there before returning to Memphis in 2021.

I went to Hung Over Like a Bear brunch at Blind Bear yesterday. New bartender Jay-Zee told me an inside secret: Get okra with a side of ranch, and mix a little sriracha into the ranch. Knowing that Socially Distant Perjorie would be excited about the okra (she likes foods that are the same color as her hair), I put in an order.

It was yummy, although I’m not sure what the best ranch-to-sriracha ratio is.

It was a day of extremes at the Bear… the morning started out with an infomercial for a product to treat enlarged prostates on TV. I looked over to see if the people at the corner table were watching… “wait, wrong bar,” I then thought.

The Pandora station of the day was playing, and the bartenders were surprised and impressed I knew the words to “My Neck, My Back, My Pussy and My Crack.” We need to add that to our 2020 BBQ team playlist.

Still later in the day, one of the other bar regulars told me what happened at the Peabody during the house arrest. With the lobby bar closed, the ducks got adventurous and started to wander. One time they got all the way to the back door, triggered the motion sensor, and nearly got away.

However, every day around 4:30, they would get out of the fountain, walk over to the elevators, and wait for the door to open. Like humans, ducks are always up for a reason to cut out of work a few minutes early.

Mayor Strickland wants to ramp up COVID-19 testing to 30,000 a day to boost confidence for people returning to work and sending their kids to school. The city would work with employers to provide the tests, which would be less invasive than the ones currently being used.

Local ag-tech company Indigo Ag helps farmers efficiently grow rice that is sold to make beer. Anheuser-Busch’s rice mill is in Jonesboro and most of the 29 farms participating in the rice program are within 70 miles.

Back tomorrow or maybe Tuesday with more news.

Saturday update: Goodbye Yao’s and welcome back Slider Inn

Yesterday as I walked down the Main Street Mall, I saw kitchen equipment being hauled out of Yao’s China Bistro at Main and Gayoso. I saw a range, a Coca-Cola refrigerator, and a vent-a-hood. Yesterday I speculated on Facebook that they could be closing, and a nearby business owner just confirmed it and said she bought some stuff from them.

The Downtown Slider Inn is back today!

Guess what? We’re #BackDowntown. 🙌

The Slider Inn fam is so excited to welcome you back tomorrow (Saturday, 5/30)! Obviously, re-opening comes with necessary adjustments. The grassy Slider Out lot will function as the main bar (with a shaded seating area), and the inside dining room, Courtyard, and Garage Bar will remain closed. Important info:

– Bar/TapBox hours: 10am-10pm daily
– Kitchen hours: 11am-9pm daily
– Social distancing protocol will be enforced (>6ft, you know the drill)

Atomic Rose posted this yesterday:

We can’t wait to see you all very soon! We are still closed as dance clubs in the city of Memphis are not allowed to open yet! Stay tuned and we will see you soon for a big grand re-opening!

Central BBQ got a mention on the TODAY show this week. The show looked at 11 restaurant meal kits you can make at home, and Central’s ribs & pulled pork dinner for 4 made the list. I surprised my mom with this kit for her birthday in 2015, and she loved it. It comes with your choice of dry rub and your choice of sauce.

Seen on Facebook yesterday: A T-shirt that said “Flush the Turd November Third”

For those of you who need some good news in your lives, check out this site: Beautiful News Daily

In case I have any Karens who read this blog: How to complain and get results

Kind of a short post today. That’s it for now, back tomorrow.

Friday update: Downtown food delivery just got better

Downtown has a new food delivery service built by a local entrepreneur along with the restaurants from whom food will be ordered. was developed by restaurants, for restaurants, to provide online ordering of food and safe delivery to the 38103 zip code. Delivery is available from

  • Kooky Canuck
  • Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick
  • Pontotoc Lounge
  • Silly Goose
  • Blind Bear
  • Wok’n in Memphis
  • Maciel’s
  • Primas Bakery + Boutique
  • Curry N Jerk

Dine-in is back open at 3rd and Court Diner:

Last month I reported that Desiree Robinson of Cozy Corner was a finalist for the National BBQ Hall of Fame. This week it became official: She’s in.

In these uncertain times, many businesses are adopting protocols to keep employees and customers safe. To that end, IKEA is asking that customers please not masturbate in its stores.

The Blind Bear has added tater tots to their menu, with their famous Bear Rub as seasoning. Jeannette recommends asking for pepper jack cheese sauce.

Beer fans, pick up a 6-pack of Memphis Made Kitten Nap IPA this weekend at Kroger to support a good cause. Kitten Nap is their spring seasonal IPA, brewed with Calypso and Lemondrop hops for a fruity taste. With an ABV of 4.8%, it’s an IPA you can drink all day. A portion of all Kitten Nap sales at Kroger through July will go to a fund set up by Edible Memphis to provide relief to food workers affected by the pandemic.

May I suggest a place to drink that Kitten Nap, or PBR, or whatever your beer of choice is this weekend? OUTSIDE!!! Beginning tonight, the forecast has us at a 0% chance of rain for the next five and a half days. Tomorrow: 80/60, clear sky, less humid with a north wind. Sunday: Near 80/near 60, sunny sky. Hmmm maybe I’ll take a trip south and go to the Memphis Farmers Market and then Max’s Sports Bar tomorrow.

South Main Book Juggler made a recommendation yesterday: Amelia Thorn, a novel by local author Richard J. Alley. It was just published this month. Pick up a copy at the shop at 548 S. Main.

Another book by a local author was also published this month: Secret Memphis, by my fellow blogger Holly Whitfield. Discover Memphis places you never knew existed, and the hidden stories behind the places everyone knows about. It’s a guide to the weird, wonderful, and obscure. First 100 orders get a free Secret Memphis sticker.

New bar stools at Silly Goose:

They’re comfortable, heavy, and they don’t make noise when you move them.

The Goose is taking extra precautions to keep their customers safe. They’ve added signage asking people to stay in their seats and not migrate from one part of the bar to another. The bartender tells me they are going to have “triple security” at the door this weekend to enforce a strict one-in, one-out once the place reaches its Phase 2 capacity. If you plan on coming there tonight or tomorrow night, my recommendation is that you get there an hour or two earlier than normal to avoid waiting.

Shelby County had an 8.6% positive rate for COVID-19 tests yesterday. That is not good, given that most days have seen positives in the 3-7% range. I wish they would report where those tests occurred. If a lot of the tests happened in clustered locations like correctional facilities and care facilities, than the high number could be explained. However, if those tests were of the general public, that could cause the Health Department to hit the brakes on moving to Phase 3 if that number is sustained over several days.

In other local COVID-19 news, Mayor Strickland announced that the city is partnering with the YMCA to convert eight community centers to provide free child care for essential workers.

In somewhat related news, I’ll pass on a tip I got from my hair stylist this week: If you sing one verse of “YMCA” by the Village People while you wash your hands, it approximates 20 seconds, the recommended hand-washing time by the CDC.

Ducks live better than most Memphians:

In news about a drake of a different feather, former DJ Drake Hall has set up his website. You can become an insider to get access to exclusive content.

Check out this video in which Kendall Haney, president of the South Main Association, talks with Jennifer Oswalt, DMC president, and Penelope Huston, vice-president of marketing and communications, about the re-opening of Downtown.

SugaShack will host an online Soulful Watch Party tonight at 7.

That’s it for today. Back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

Big festival news the past 24 hours: Cooper-Young Fest, normally held the second or third weekend of September, has been rescheduled to October 31 out of concerns over COVID-19. That festival draws a huge crowd and I don’t see how they could enforce any kind of distancing. Perhaps they think holding it on Halloween will hold down the crowd size.

The DM reports that Rhodes College is planning around the fall pandemic with a condensed schedule. Classes will start on August 26 and will go straight through to Thanksgiving break, with classes on Labor Day and only a one-day fall break to discourage students from traveling and potentially bringing the coronavirus back to campus. After Thanksgiving, the last few days of classes and exams will be held online.

Huey’s Downtown opened its dining room yesterday.

New local business that is worth your support: Mane St. Provisions. They offer fine sauces, meats, pickles, and more, all made with local ingredients.

The Daily Memphian has coverage of saxophonist Dr. Herman Green’s 90th birthday parade which happened yesterday.

Sandwiches have been brought back to the menu at Aldo’s Pizza Pies.

Cossitt Library will host a virtual “ANY” book club tonight on Zoom from 6 to 7. Bring the book you’ve been reading, or one you recently finished, and tell the group about it. Register here

River Time Market & Deli on the south side of Court Square recently updated its menu boards. Let’s have a look:

I found out how the salad bar at Texas de Brazil works post-quarantine. They give you a list of everything on it, and you check off the items you want and they retrieve it for you. This avoids mass handling of serving utensils.

This is your last chance to order from Edge Alley for a little while. Owner Tim Barker plans to close the restaurant for the month of June, providing time to spruce it up in anticipation of a July 1 reopening. (h/t Edible Memphis for the info)

That’s the news for today. I plan on watching the COVID-19 task force press conference before heading out. I’ll be back with details from that and more news tomorrow.

Wednesday update

I didn’t watch the Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference but I have read recaps. Geoff Calkins wrote (subscribers only) that Dr. Randolph, Shelby County Health Officer, was “hopeful and optimistic” about re-opening, and that health department director Dr. Haushalter was cutting the press conferences back to twice a week, no longer feeling it’s necessary to give daily updates. That’s a good sign!

Also, Dr. Randolph sort of expected for his phone to be ringing off the hook with complaints of violations of his Health Order 4, which is the legal document behind Back-to-Business Phase 2. He didn’t get them. He also said that a 78-team youth baseball tournament out in Cordova at GameDay went very well.

However, Dr. Haushalter recommends that any Shelby County residents who traveled to COVID-19 “hotspots” over the Memorial Day weekend self-quarantine. This map will help give you an idea where the hotspots are. New York City, obviously, would be one, as well as New Jersey and probably New Orleans.

Dr. McCullers on the task force said that Memphians need to work on wearing masks in public, a point reinforced by Mayor Strickland’s COVID-19 update. The more people the health officials see wearing masks in public, the more likely they are to agree to a move to Phase 3 on June 8.

A Fox 13 news story on what Memphians did over Memorial Day weekend features Downtown’s own Tawanda Pirtle, of Jack Pirtle’s Fried Chicken, with a cameo by Bloomers from Bardog.

Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick closed at 6 last night so they could give the restaurant a thorough sanitizing prior to the restaurant interior’s re-opening to the public next week. It’s just one of the precautions Chef is taking to keep employees and guests safe. The restaurant will re-open with outside dining and to-go today at noon.

Sabor Caribe out in The Edge is having some construction work done on its front door, and asks that you go to the back entrance on N. Orleans St. to pick up your orders.

The Midtown location of Aldo’s Pizza Pies is hiring servers, expos, and cooks. Email or apply in person.

Chris Herrington offers his best guess on what will become of the remainder of the Grizzlies’ NBA season. The league is considering a single-site location in Orlando. There’s talk of a late July starting point, and there are options for bringing in all 30 teams to finish the season, or just the top 8 teams in the conferences and going straight to the playoffs. There is considerable distance in the standings between the 8 seeds in the East and West (Memphis in Orlando) and the 9th place teams, so there’s a good argument to go straight to the playoffs, reducing the number of personnel brought to the site by almost half.

Don’t throw that unmarked envelope containing a prepaid debit card away! It may be a stimulus payment from the IRS. Look for an envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services,” with VISA on the front of the card and MetaBank®, N.A. on the back.

Memphis River Parks Partnership will host a Tom Lee Park Engagement Pop-Up event tonight 5:30-7:30 and every Wednesday through the end of June. You’ll be able to chat with the staff and see the park’s updated designs.

Also, the park has its own website now.

Attention Central Gardens residents:

A street racer was charged after he nearly hit an undercover officer cracking down on the racing. His Camaro just missed the officer and hit a police cruiser and a Jeep.

That’s the news for today. Back tomorrow.

Tuesday update

Yesterday I went online and made an appointment to get my first post-house arrest haircut at my usual place, Rachel’s Day Salon and Spa. Usually I try to get a haircut every 3 to 4 months. However, I am known to procrastinate, so my thinking was, “It’s been almost 6 months, I need to make an appointment soon” when the house arrest/Safer at Home order was put in place in mid-to-late March. So now I’m at 8. I was going to wait a few weeks after their re-opening date to give the ladies time to get their appointments in, but yesterday I happened to be sitting directly across from a mirror. “I can’t take this anymore,” I thought.

I have to say, I am very impressed with the list of rules Rachel’s has put in place to keep their customers and employees safe. Some of it you might expect: Customers have to wear a mask, they have to wait outside until their stylist is ready to see them, and they are asked not to bring anyone with them. Some of their other regulations, though, illustrate that they are really going the extra mile to keep everyone who comes in their shop safe. For example:

  • They’re not offering shampoos prior to haircuts at this time; customers are asked to arrive with clean, dry hair, washed 2-3 hours prior if possible
  • Everyone gets their temperature taken before their appointment, and anyone with a fever is sent home
  • Stations are stationed 8 feet apart. Why 8, when the recommendation for social distancing is 6? Probably because the stylists often stand to the left or the right of the chair, taking another foot off the distance. (By the way, many restaurants have been getting this wrong, spacing the tables 6 feet apart, rather than the chairs.)
  • Blow-dry services will not be offered at this time, to lessen the spread of particles through the air
  • They ask customers to download an app for contactless payment, although they will accept cash and credit cards too

The Daily Memphian’s Jennifer Biggs visited Mississippi Terrace, the new outdoor restaurant and bar at Bass Pro overlooking the Mississippi River, on its opening weekend. She went there to write about the food, but there are other important observations. She noticed that the outdoor restaurant was operating at well above the 50% capacity which is the limit for Back to Business Phase 2 – several people guessed it at 75%.

So here we have one of the very few restaurants in Memphis opening so soon after the house arrest was lifted. It’s a restaurant with views of the Mississippi River, and it’s a restaurant that is part of one of the city’s most prominent businesses, Bass Pro – a business city officials spent years recruiting here. How in the world did management not realize the media was going to show up on their opening weekend? And they should have realized that any food reviews would include a review of how well COVID-19 regulations are being enforced – Jennifer Biggs has done that pretty consistently since things started to re-open.

I betcha dollars to donuts that someone will send a link to that article to the city’s COVID-19 email hotline, and Code Enforcement will be out at Mississippi Terrace sometime this coming weekend. I hope management is ready.

Got a recommendation for managers of restaurants and bars where customers seat themselves: Look up the capacity on your permit and divide it by 2. Anytime you think capacity could be at or above that number during a typical, pre-COVID-19 week, have a doorman. Anytime you have reason to believe the media might come in your place, have a doorman. Give them a clicker to count up and down, and stop letting people in when the clicker is at half capacity.

Most customers won’t police themselves. They won’t look around the room and say, “There are too many people here.” They for the most part have been following rules all week… be at your desk at 8 or we’ll write you up, wear business casual, don’t get caught surfing Facebook on your phone during the pointless weekly meeting. They’re not going to voluntarily look for more rules to follow on their own time.  (Later in the post I’ll tell you a rule of thumb I’ve developed for figuring out when to depart my favorite watering holes because they’re about to get crowded.)

It’s not reasonable to expect bartenders and servers to police the crowd. If 75% of the place is full, they’re going to earn 50% more tips than if the place is 50% full. People do what’s in their best interest.

I mentioned that there are people who have been going out, taking photos of bar and restaurant crowds that violate the Back-to-Business rules. I know with one hundred percent certainty that those people were out this past weekend. You may see them as tattletales, but they see themselves as protectors. They’re protecting the clerk at the grocery store, the cashier at Walgreens, the nursing home attendant who will come in contact with the people who were at the crowded restaurant. Whether you agree with them or not, you need to be aware that they’re out there.

One more thing about that article about Mississippi Terrace… zoom in on that photo and notice how many customers have masks on. That is very consistent with my outings to restaurants and bars the past three weeks.

All right, now I’ll circle back around and share a rule of thumb I have developed. It will only work during the months of May through September. I have learned that anytime I go to a bar and hear a particular phrase spoken by customers (staff don’t count) for the third time, it’s time to tab out and leave because it will get crowded within the next hour.

The phrase? “Pool party.” I know that sounds ridiculous but try it out for yourself.

Are you guys as sick of reading about COVID-19 as I am writing about it? I would much rather by writing about the Cinderella story of the 8-seed who made it to the NBA Finals, led by a pair of 20-year-olds. I would much rather be telling you that the BBQ team took home a second top 10 trophy in shoulder in three years. I would much rather report that East Memphis is gearing up for Italian Fest this weekend.

Back tomorrow, and I’ll try to scrounge up some news that’s not related to this stupid virus.