Tue update: Mudbugs in March/River City Brewers Festival, Jack Daniel’s Master Taster’s dinner, Pastner gets an extension, stiQRd/Kooky Canuck, BBQ Fest

A few days ago I posted that Mudbugs in March will happen this Saturday in Court Square. It struck me as unfortunate that it’s the same day as River City Brewers Festival, but the two events have found a way to work together. Your brew fest ticket gets you free admission to Mudbugs in March (it just gets you in the park, you still have to pay for the crawfish). With the crawfish fest’s hours of 2:30 to 6:30, it’s very possible to go after the afternoon session, which ends at 4, or before the evening session which starts at 6. Kudos to the organizers of both festivals for working together! That’s how we do it Downtown!

The Flyer’s Hungry Memphis blog has a good article about the Jack Daniel’s Master Taster’s Dinner which happens at the Peabody this Thursday. By they way, Hungry Memphis has tweeted a lot of fun facts about the dinner too. Follow the blog at @HungryFlyer.

Josh Pastner has received a 1-year extension to his contract. That will keep him here through the 2016-17 season. Some people have criticized his coaching this year, and in some cases I have to agree, but I think this is a good move by the University. He won more games in his first 3 years than any previous U of M head coach, and he got us to two NCAA tournaments. And he did it without being a douche like his predecessor. Yeah I know, no wins over Top 25 yet, but those will come. Women’s coach McFerrin got a year extension too.

If you go to Kooky Canuck a lot and have a smartphone, you need to download the stiQRd app. This is a loyalty program for restaurants and businesses, based on QR codes that you scan. Kooky Canuck is the latest business to join the stiQRd family. If you go 10 times and scan their code, you’ll receive a $10 gift card for the restaurant.

Getting more and more excited about BBQ Fest. It’s only 7 weeks away. My vacation for that entire week has been approved. I really like what our team did with the bartending situation. Previously, team members would cover the bar at all times, which sucked because it means some people got stuck behind the bar during the two biggest party nights of the festival, Thursday and Friday. This year we’re hiring bartenders so all team members can enjoy themselves. That is definitely a decision I support! Our friends Squeal Street BBQ had the same idea, recruiting a couple of the Saucer’s best. I tend to hang out in my own team’s booth most of the time, but that move pretty much guarantees I’ll wander over to Squeal Street for a few visits.

Planning a BBQ team is not all fun and games though. Team members have to be careful about the guests they invite. If you have someone who has a known history of overimbibing at all-you-can-drink type events and then driving home, that person is a huge liability if you invite them in and serve them alcohol. Our team captain is an attorney so we know this well, but I just want to mention it for the benefit of other teams. Actually, people who plan other types of parties should be aware of this too (it’s not the season, but for some reason Halloween parties come to mind).

Got several responses for places to house our sponsors, and have passed them on to our WordPress guy who works in Memphis for further investigation. Thank you to those who responded!

Plans for tonight: Poker at the Blind Bear at 8. Two more weeks of league play to accumulate points for the final table, where an iPad will be awarded. Looking at the standings, all I need to do is show up this week and next – you get one point just for showing up, more points for a top-three finish – and I should be safely in the finals. Even if you can’t catch up on points, there’s still plenty of reason to come out and play, because $50 Bear Bucks are awarded to each week’s winner. I’ll pre-game with a few beers at the Saucer before heading over.

Sponsor looking to rent 4 BR week of BBQ Fest

My team’s principal sponsor WordPress is looking to rent four bedrooms Downtown the week of BBQ Fest, as close to Tom Lee Park as possible. Ideally they would like to have them in one unit, or if not possible right next to each other, or barring that, nearby.

These are not kids coming down here to party. This is a company with 25 million websites using their software. They just work virtually rather than report to a cubicle every day. More power to them. They are professionals and I have no doubt they will take good care of your home or condo. I thought Internet access would be a big deal, but my local contact has told me they bring their connections with them. They just want someplace they can call home rather than hotel for a week.

Shoot me an email at paul@paulryburn.com if you have a place (or two) or know of one.

In other news, I played the 10:00 poker game tonight at the Goose. I was thrilled to see owner Daniel at my table. I enjoy playing him. I was not so thrilled when Daniel hit trip Sevens to take out my pair of Kings when my pre-flop AK paired. That’s poker though.

Bonus photo: Here’s Paula Raiford on the Ms. Pac-Man machine.

Mon update: New bar on Beale + police presence, South Main Fever, wings @ Double J, Majestic hiring, roller derby Honky Tonk Stomp, and more

The Memphis Daily News reports that a new concept will move into the former Pat O’Brien’s space at 310 Beale. The building will be renovated into three banquet halls, plus a corner bar called Dancing Jimmy’s that will seat about 40. The business will be operated by two veteran Beale Street property owners. Read more here.

There’s some encouraging news at the bottom of the article – Performa, the company that manages Beale Street, is working with the Memphis Police Department to get a substation opened at Fourth and Beale. That area has seen a lot of problems, due to Club Crave and its predecessors. A permanent police presence would certainly make the block of Beale between Third and Fourth feel much safer.

The Daily News also has a good blog post about South Main Fever. South Main is booming with new businesses, the most recent of which is Grawemeyer’s which opened this past weekend. At the end of the blog post, they mention that a “celebrated name” in Memphis BBQ hopes to open in the coming months, as soon as they get permits worked out. I’ve heard the rumors about this and it’s a HUGE name. Multiple winner of the Memphis Flyer poll, not Corky’s, not Rendezvous. I remember getting dry rub all over my clothes a couple of years ago when I ate hot wings on the patio at one of the restaurant’s existing locations.

Speaking of wings…

I stopped by Double J SmokeHouse and Saloon last night to try their wings. They are smoked and grilled rather than fried, for a lighter meal. You get 8 of them for $9, or 12 for $13. Comes with celery and your choice of ranch or blue cheese.

The Majestic Grille posted this morning that they are hiring experienced servers. Patrick and Deni are great and this is one of the best places to work Downtown. You make good money too, especially on days when there are Orpheum events. If interested, apply in person Monday-Thursday between 2 and 4 PM. No emails or phone calls.

Memphis Roller Derby is hosting the Honky Tonk Stomp on the 31st at the Pipkin Building at Tiger Lane. The Stomp is the annual Tennessee state derby championship tournament, so they’ll have teams from Memphis, Johnson City and Knoxville competing. Tickets are $20 for the day or $12 after 4 p.m. They’ll also have beer and food. More info here.

After I ate at Double J last night, I stopped by Max’s Sports Bar. I ordered a PBR then exclaimed “MICHELEINEEDABOX!!!” when I saw a custom 1-hour Buzztime poker tournament about to start. Didn’t win though, nor the second tournament I played. Good catching up with some of the South Main folks. Wish I could’ve stayed for the entire Grizzlies game.

Earlier in the day, I was at the Saucer. It was “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” with a Bloody Mary bar set up. Odd thing, they didn’t sell one Bloody Mary from noon to 1, then as they were breaking it down at 3 the place got packed and a swarm of people ran up to order one more as they were breaking it down. Maybe they need to keep it going until 5 like the Goose does.

Louisville vs. Kentucky? All Calipari-hate aside, I’m rooting for Louisville. I’m grateful for Pitino’s years of lobbying to get Memphis in the Big East.

Monday. That means I’ll be at Pint Nite at the Saucer. I have yet to decide whether I’ll feel like walking over to the Goose for poker with Poker Jon at 7:30. I’ll be out tonight about 6.

Crawfish festival in Court Square next Saturday

I had no idea this existed until yesterday. HTH did a crawfish festival fly under my radar?

Next Saturday in Court Square, there’s going to be a crawfish festival called Mudbugs in March. It’s put on by BCB Entertainment, Hard Rock Cafe, and Q107.5. The website says it’s “A True, Louisiana-style crawfish boil complete with corn, potatoes, sausage, mushrooms and plenty of spice.” There will be live music by The Patrick Dodd Trio and George McConnell and the Nonchalants. Tickets are $5 general admission (which gets you in the park, crawfish purchase extra) and VIP wristbands are $35. The site says “VIP access includes entrance into Court Square Park and all-you-can eat crawfish and separate beer-tenders for the VIP section. The VIP section will be closer to the band and will have additional entertainment located in the section to play during band breaks.”

Sounds like fun. I had no idea this was going on until someone told me they had wristbands they couldn’t use and asked if I wanted them. So now I have a beer festival (River City, in Handy Park) and a crawfish festival to attend next Saturday. There are worse problems to have, I suppose. Since I had a couple of extra wristbands I stopped the elevator a couple of floors early and slipped wristbands under my neighbor the Nuh-Uh Girl’s door. I may pick on her about the free food thing but occasionally I support it as well.

Last night I made it until closing time at the Saucer, then stopped by the Bear for a PBR. Since I’m posting this at 11:25 AM, obviously I didn’t make it to brunch at the Majestic. I’ll be out about noon. I may try to make it to the Grizzlies-Lakers party at Max’s Sports Bar at 8 tonight.

Thanks for your feedback for the name for the poker table. Most of you who responded had thoughts exactly in line with my own. I think I’ve come up with a name.

Blind Bear wants to name a poker table after me

This will be listed on their online reservation site. They gave me my choice of all the poker or blackjack tables. Obviously I went with poker. I took the near table to the front door. I have ideas what to call it but would be interested in hearing yours. Send ’em to paul@paulryburn.com. They told me there’s no rush but I’d like to submit the final idea when I play poker Tuesday.

I feel like I’ve hit the big time. My buddy John D has a breakfast named after him at the Majestic. Now I’ve evened the score with a poker table. It’s a dining table rather than a poker table every time except Tuesday between 7:30 and about 10.

Fri update: Blind Bear website, Visible School pancake breakfast, apply for free retail space at Power House, Jack Daniel’s Master Tasters dinner, Facebook fights back against employer invasions of privacy

The Blind Bear has rolled out its website, and it looks fantastic! Very few bars or restaurants have websites that capture the essence of the venue as well as the Bear’s does. You can view their menu online, as well as their “Juice List” and “Giggle Water” menus. Being a speakeasy, they don’t have wine or mixed drink menus (wink wink). There’s also a form where you can reserve one of their 2 private rooms or 8 dining areas.

By the way, I mentioned that we might bring one more sponsor on board with our BBQ team. Now I’ve been granted permission to make the announcement: Our newest sponsor is none other than the Blind Bear! They will be doing our paper products, I’m told. So we’ve got WordPress, Holliday Flowers, Double J SmokeHouse and Saloon, and the Blind Bear. There is no team in all of BBQ Fest that can claim to have sponsors as good as ours.

If you want to give some aspiring musicians a hand, come to Elliott’s restaurant on Second Street tomorrow and eat some pancakes. From 8:30 to 10:30 they will have a pancake breakfast, with all proceeds going to the Visible Music College’s Music Business department’s annual trip to Nashville. $7 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under. There will be bacon and fruit served with the pancakes.

Entrepreneurs: Would you like a retail space to sell your goods, rent-free, for up to 3 months? The Downtown Memphis Commission is seeking retail concepts for a pop-up market in the Power House art gallery. The project is intended to bring more unique retail to the South Main shopping and art district. To download the Request for Proposal and Application, go to DowntownMemphisCommission.com.

The Peabody has announced a Jack Daniel’s “Meet the Master Taster” Dinner and Whiskey Tasting with Jeff Norman, which will take place Thursday, March 29, 2012, at 6 p.m. in Capriccio Grill. The event will include a 4-course tasting of Jack Daniel’s whiskeys led by Norman, followed by a 4-course dinner of Jack Daniel’s-infused recipes created by Chef Ana Gonzalez. The event is $65 per person (plus tax and gratuity, includes valet parking). Reservations can be made by calling 901-529-4199. Menu:

Tennessee Whiskey Tasting:
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Black Label
Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, specially selected for The Peabody
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey

Dinner Menu:

1st Course
Jack Daniel’s Sweet Hot Glazed Shrimp

2nd Course
Early Spring Greens, Yellow Beet, Vidalia Onion
Served with Hog Jowl Dressing, Topped with Jack Daniel’s Candied Pecans

3rd Course
Oven BBQ Tennessee Pork Tenderloin served with Butternut Squash Risotto
Lynchburg Candied Apple Demi Glace, Creole Red and Green Beans


8 oz Filet with Jimmy’s Jack Fancy Mushroom and Pearl Onion Sauce
Mashed Potatoes Au Gratin and Creole Red and Green Beans

4th Course
Jack Daniel’s Honey Banana Pudding with Glazed Pecans

There’s been a controversy this week about employers asking applicants for their Facebook username and password. That lets interviewers log in as the applicant, look around and get a better sense of who the applicant is. Facebook has announced its intention to fight this practice. The company says that asking for usernames and passwords is a violation of its Terms of Service, and they will take legal action if necessary. I haven’t agreed with everything the social network has done, but I have to say “Go Facebook!” on this one. If I were interviewing for a job and someone asked me for my Facebook login info, I would get up and walk out. That is a flat-out invasion of privacy and we as a society need to stand together and say it will not be tolerated.

Hashtag I saw this morning: #FindYourInnerTebow. That makes me want to delete my Twitter account.

Plans for tonight: I’ve pretty much ruled out the 7:00 performance of Sesame Street Live at the FedExForum, but other than that, plans are pretty much still open. I’ll be out somewhere enjoying the nice spring weather.

Thur update: Max’s golf scramble, Persian New Year, Sesame Street Live, Segway tours, Moscow Mule, and the next iPhone

Max’s Sports Bar is sponsoring a golf scramble to benefit St. Jude on Saturday, April 21 at 2 PM. Entry is $100 per person which includes green fees, a polo with the “3 Club Max” logo, donation to St Jude, and beer back at Max’s. Each participant will only be allowed a 6 iron, wedge, and putter in their bag. The winning team gets 4-$50 gift certificates to Max’s, and the winning and losing teams get trophies. Deadline for entry is April 8.

I get the weekly emails from the Downtown Memphis Commission listing what’s going on in the coming week (sign up at DowntownMemphis.com). In this morning’s email I noticed a very cool event if you’re into different cultures of the world. Saturday there will be a celebration of the Persian New Year at 477 N. Fifth. There will be traditional Persian food and Nowruz ceremonies and dances. The email says to contact iraniansinmemphis@gmail.com for more info.

Sesame Street Live will be at the FedExForum tomorrow and Saturday. 10:30 AM and 7 PM performances tomorrow. 10:30 AM, 2 PM and 5:30 PM shows Saturday. Title of the show is “Elmo’s Super Heroes.”

Segway Experience of Memphis is now officially operating tours of Downtown on Segways, starting from the Peabody. Call 901-529-4108 to book a tour. Follow the tour company on Twitter at @SegwayMemphis.

Here’s a Huffington Post article on the Moscow Mule. This is the light, refreshing drink made with vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. The article fails to mention that the cocktail should be served in a copper mug. You can get a Moscow Mule at the Flying Saucer.

Reuters reports that the next iPhone will have a bigger 4.6 inch display. It will be a retina display, similar to what is used on the new iPad.

Plans for tonight: Undecided as of yet. Hmmm… it is poker night at Max’s Sports Bar though…

New restaurant to open in former Leonard’s BBQ space

This morning I got a treat – I got to walk to work. I volunteered at the bridge tournament at the Convention Center. As I walked up the Main Street Mall, I noticed that a new restaurant is about to open in the old Leonard’s BBQ space in the Claridge. It’s a meat-and-two place called Willie Moore’s Family Restaurant. I took a pic of the menu and am attaching it to this post (click to view larger size). Hours will be 11-6 Monday-Friday, 11-5 Sunday.


Tue update #2: Peabody rooftop parties, Beale Street Landing, Mexico earthquake, getting TN unemployment benefits about to become harder, poker at Blind Bear

The Peabody has announced its lineup for Thursday night rooftop parties for the first part of the 2012 season. Here’s the list:

April 19: FreeSol with Chris Rene
April 26: Dr. Zarrís Amazing Funk Monster
May 3: Party Planet
May 10: Kevin & Bethany Paige
May 17: Lord T & Eloise
May 24: G3: The Garry Goin Group
May 31: Mudflap King

Admission will be $10 and includes one drink, except for the April 19 party which will be $15. Ladies free until 7. VIP Passes for the entire 2012 season are available for purchase at the door. The passes include admission to all 18 parties with event valet parking, a 20% discount on Peabody logo merchandise in Peabody Deli & Dessert, and a 10% discount in Capriccio Grill and Chez Philippe throughout the 2012 Rooftop Party season – a $500 value – for just $100. VIPs will be treated to food and beverage tastings from the Peabody Chefs and Budweiser in the Stella Artois themed VIP Lounge. (Just make sure you get to the food tastings early, before the Nuh-Uh Girl eats it all.)

The Memphis Daily News has a good article about Beale Street Landing, which will open on April 27 as the American Queen steamboat arrives in port. The article has details on the restaurant in the landing, which will open in July. Because the landing takes up part of Tom Lee Park, Music Fest and BBQ Fest (assuming it remains on the river) will be slightly more cramped this year.

There was a magnitude 7+ earthquake in Mexico today. Hope all my Mexican friends who read this blog are safe, although most of them live in the Monterrey area which is safely far away. I wasn’t able to find anything about the cause of the earthquake on the University of Memphis’ Center for Earthquake Research Institute site, but fortunately pro wrestler The Iron Sheik explained what happened on Twitter: “Earthquake in mexico because the tito santana take shit that look like king kong bundy ass.” Well all righty then.

The Memphis Business Journal reports that it’s about to get harder to receive unemployment benefits in Tennessee. Recipients may be required to submit documentation of two weekly work searches to continue to get benefits. Also, they’ll be required to participate in case management sessions including skills assessments and remedial education.

Poker at the Blind Bear has been moved back a half hour to 8:30 tonight, because Jamie’s custom poker chips are ready and he has to go pick them up. Fine with me – gives me an extra half hour to drink beer at the Saucer before I walk over there! I’ve been running hot at the poker tables lately, and hopefully I’ll bring home the $50 Bear Bucks first-place prize.

Tue update: Good music in the South Main district tonight, happy birthday to Mr. Lansky, Urban Dare Adventure Race

If you want to hear some Memphis music in two very comfortable venues, the South Main district of Downtown is the place to be tonight.

At 7 PM, Brad Birkedahl takes the stage for an acoustic set at Double J SmokeHouse and Saloon. When he played his initial gig last week, it was described as “country with some 50s and 60s thrown in.” Having heard him play in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear covers from artists like George Jones, Jerry Reed, and Johnny Cash, and it’s totally possible he’ll throw a little Elvis in too.

Then at 9, Dynaflow takes the stage down the street at Earnestine & Hazel’s. Good old fashioned rock and roll, played through vintage amps. There are few places in Memphis that have as much soul as E&H, a former brothel turned into a bar. If you’re hungry, try one of their Soul Burgers. Check out the memorabilia on the walls. If you look around you can even see daily lunch menus from the early ’80s, when E&H was still half bar, half brothel.

To get to both venues, take the Main Street Trolley all the way south to the end of the line. You’ll see Earnestine & Hazel’s on the corner, at G.E. Patterson. Double J is a half block walk east down G.E. Patterson.

Happy 85th birthday to Elvis’ clothier, Bernard J. Lansky. You can visit his clothing store in the Peabody and wish him a happy birthday in person. By the way, in coming weeks I’ll have details of a trunk show and designer appearance by Robert Stock, chief creative officer of the Robert Graham clothing line.

There’s a Groupon today for a team entry into the Urban Dare Adventure Race for $45, a $90 value. Teams of two people decipher clues, perform playful stunts, and navigate the city while raising money for breast cancer research. The race is on Saturday, April 7 and the starting point is the Flying Saucer.

I finished 3rd out of 17 in poker at the Silly Goose last night. I’ll give it a try again tonight in Jamie’s game at the Blind Bear at 8.