A little after 10 yesterday I walked south Earnestine & Hazel’s, making a last-second decision to lead off there rather than the Farmers Market. I didn’t realize it, but E&H opens at 10 on Saturdays in case the Farmers Market crowd and the Arcade breakfast crowd wants to stop in for a beer. While they do have Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, the usual choices, they also appeal to beer drinkers with much more discriminating tastes. They carry the Cadillac of beers, PBR, for $2.50 a 12-ounce bottle. I ordered a Cadillac from Clarence, the bartender, and grabbed a bar stool.
Clarence asked if I had been in South Main Friday night. I told him I hadn’t. “Well, you missed a good time. They had Foghat jamming out back there in 5 Spot.” 5 Spot is a place that is going to have to be on my radar a little more. I have always thought of it as a place to get good food, but now that Bud is involved they really seem to be cranking up the music aspect of the place. In the future, when I make Friday trips to my “home away from home on the south side,” Max’s Sports Bar, I will have to swing by 5 Spot and see what is going on there.
Tad who gives tours in the ’50s Cadillac came in with some tourists and Clarence gave them a history of the place. “Up to 1960 Earnestine and Hazel’s was a drug store, operated by Abe Plough. See those drawers over there?”
“That’s where they kept the pills,” Clarence told the tourists. “Then, from 1960 to ’92 this place was a brothel. See these menus over here?”
“The men would get off the riverboat and come here to get something to eat downstairs, then they would go upstairs and visit the whores,” Clarence said. “Go on up and take a look, they still have the rooms upstairs just like they were when the whores were in them.”
“The upstairs is open right now?” Tad said, a bit shocked. I was a bit shocked too. Previously the upstairs had only been open 9 PM to close on weekend nights, when Nate bartends up there.
“Yeah, go on up,” said Clarence. Smart move by management letting people go upstairs anytime. It is a piece of Memphis history, albeit a rather seedy piece.
11:00 arrived, and I thanked Clarence and tabbed out. Normally I would be at Bardog by this time, but yesterday was an unusual Saturday… Max was having a crawfish boil at his sports bar, and I know better than to miss Max’s crawfish boils. The thing is, I’ve seen crawfish be inconsistent at festivals like Overton Square and Rajun Cajun – one year they are really good and then the next year they suck. Max has never missed the mark on crawfish though. About 12:45 Mike the bartender came over and said, “Crawfish are ready. You want a box?” Of course I did, so Mike rang me up a ticket for me to take to Max’s Big Deck where the crawfish were being cooked.
“These are gonna burn a bit,” the caterer tending the pot told me.
“That’s what I like to hear,” I told him. “By the time I reach the end of the box, if my nose isn’t running and tears aren’t running down my cheeks, you didn’t do your job.”
“Trust me, we did our job,” he replied.
They did their job indeed. For proof that these guys knew what they were doing, look in the upper right corner of this photo. They weighed out two pounds of crawfish and then threw in a piece of corn and a couple of taters, which are pretty common sides. But look what else they threw in – pieces of smoked sausage which had been cooking in the pot with the crawfish and soaking up that boil. THAT’S the good stuff, right there.
While I was eating my crawfish, I checked Facebook. Down at BBQ Fest load-in, members of Squeal Street BBQ came down to the Moody Ques tent. “Do you need any help?” they asked. “We don’t have a 2014 BBQ Fest trophy and a 2015 BBQ Fest trophy and a 2016 Southaven Springfest trophy to haul in like you guys do. All we have to bring in is a thank-you note from a catering gig we did for some condos. So we got finished early with load-in.” We gave them a shovel and they took a photo of themselves with it and posted it to their team Facebook group.
Interesting thing about that photo… it had 10 “Likes” at the time I saw it, but when I moused over the 10 “Likes” I only saw 9 names “… and 1 more.”
About 1:45 I got a text saying “At Bear.” It was from Moody, our former team president and legal counsel. She moved to McAllen, Texas in December to pursue a career with the federal government, and resigned her presidency of the team at that time. She’s back this week for BBQ Fest, and she is excited about experiencing the team as a member, not as an officer with all kinds of responsibilities.
When I arrived at the Bear, it was time to step into my Director of Public Relations role. Ian, our Canadian member, was at the bar. Moody called a quick board meeting and made a motion that Ian be appointed Canadian Ambassador for the team, since Canada is the honored country. I seconded the motion. Technically, with only two board members there, we didn’t have a quorum to approve team business, but we decided our buddy Chad, sitting on the other side of me, deserved to have a vote since he had been appointed Head Bartender Friday night. We also decided our favorite pair of librarian glasses behind the bar deserved a vote because she was doing such a good job pouring us Fireball. The four of us unanimously agreed that Ian is our Canadian Ambassador, and I updated the website to reflect the new title.
Chad and I then discussed the bar. I’m not going to post how much we received in the tip jar last year, but I know there is another team of similar size (booth size and number of members) that did at least three times in tips what we did. So this year, Chad and I are going to train people who volunteer to bartend on how to nicely suggest dropping a little somethin’ in the tip jar without being pushy about it. If we can get an extra grand in tips over the course of the weekend, our books will be close to balanced which will make our treasurer very happy.
Chad is also going to buy some devices that fit on bottles that measure a perfect one ounce pour. (These have a name but I can’t remember it.) A problem at the bar in previous years is that we had people back there with no bartending experience free-pouring. Without realizing it (or maybe they did) they poured doubles and triples all day long. That bled the team horribly on liquor costs. Now, there are certain people we don’t mind getting doubles and triples (team members, sponsors, guests who tip big, hot girls) but the average guest needs to be getting a 1-ounce pour. That could potentially save us a grand, which along with better tip jar management should put us into the black.
Chad, Moody and I also agreed on another point: Under no circumstances will a non-team member be allowed to bartend. That includes girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, brothers, sisters, cousins, BFFs, what have you. If you don’t have a 2016 red and white Moody Ques rubber wristband, you aren’t going behind the bar. I will work a bar shift myself if I have to before I will let a non-member work one.
Following taking care of business for the team, I got a huarache and some bean nachos from Maciel’s and went home to munch. After that I took a halftime nap, fully intending to go back out and stay out til 3 as I like to do when I am on vacation. About 10 I popped back up out of bed, put my clothes on, brushed my teeth, and walked over to the Blind Bear. I found that I knew absolutely NO ONE there. I hate Saturday night when East Memphis invades Downtown, but that’s when they make their money. There was a birthday party over at Silly Goose but I wasn’t dressed for it; during my BBQ Fest vacation, T-shirts and shorts are the only things I will wear. By 10:45 I was thinking, “there is absolutely no point in my being here” sitting there by myself sipping on beer. My service industry friends would come in eventually, but not until around 1:30 and I didn’t feel like waiting that long. So I called it a surprisingly early night.
For those of you on the Moody Ques wondering when we are going to send up an announcement about picking up team bags with T-shirts, Wednesday night tickets, and park hours or 24 hour wristbands… good question, I’m wondering that myself! I sure hope it will be today but I don’t have the official word yet. Note to fellow board members: The bar opens at 11 so I am not responsible for typos or other content of emails or posts I am asked to send out after that point.
D-RANKS with B-RAD will be my lead-off stop today at Blind Bear. I will say it once again – if you meet B-RAD at BBQ Fest, feel free to ask him ANYTHING AT ALL about me. I have no secrets, I have nothing to hide, and the only chickens I have coming home to roost will be covered in Moody Ques BBQ sauce.
Okay, after trudging through 15 or 20 paragraphs of this crap, let’s get to some actual news. The big news of course is that Dave Joerger has been let go as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. Mike Conley was said to be a factor in this, as in we were more likely to re-sign our starting point guard if Joerger wasn’t around. I don’t think the guys ever had the respect for him that they did for Lionel. Not that I’m saying bringing Lionel back is the correct move.
When couples you thought for sure were together forever split up… this time it’s Ozzy and Sharon. The Osbournes are parting ways after 33 years of marriage.
Canadian play When it Rains closes out its weekend run at the Orpheum today at 2.
If you’re off work all week for BBQ Fest like I am and are wondering what to do Monday and Tuesday, here’s something: Historian Jimmy Ogle will give a free South Main tour lunchtime on Tuesday. Meet at the Orpheum at 11:45.
I’m going to try to get down to Tom Lee Park this afternoon to take some pictures of how the build is going. I will be putting on my cheap $15 Payless sandals for the first time, which I bought so I wouldn’t have to ruin my good sandals at BBQ Fest. That’ll do it for now. If you’re a team member keep an eye on email and the Moody Ques website for news.