Monday update: SMA meeting and Cafe Pontotoc reopening tomorrow, Old Dominick sneak preview and more

The South Main Association will have its first meeting of the year tomorrow, Tuesday, January 10 at Makeda’s Cookies, 488 S. Second. Representatives from MATA will speak, including Chief Communications Officer Nicole Lacey and Chief Administrative Officer Gary Rosenfeld. Cookies, milk, coffee, savory finger foods and beverages will be served. Social at 6, meeting at 6:30. I wonder if anyone will ask when (or if) the trolleys will be back?

Also tomorrow, Cafe Pontotoc reopens. They’ve been closed since before Christmas remodeling and it will be interesting to see what they’ve done with the place. Based on recent conversations with friends, this is a place I believe I should be spending more time.

Want a chance to check out Old Dominick Distillery at 305 S. Front Street before it’s open to the public? The Memphis Flyer is having their annual party to celebrate this year’s 20 Under 30 there Wednesday evening. There will be classic Memphis tunes, giveaways, and complimentary beverages. If I have any readers who are mac & cheese fans, they might be interested to know there will be a mac & cheese bar provided by Iris Etc. Catering. The event is 6:30-8:30 PM and is free and open to the public.

This isn’t a Downtown event, but it sounds like it might be worth a drive out to the Memphis Botanic Garden on January 21: Oshii Japan, a celebration of Japanese traditional home cooking, ramen, dessert, and sake. You can purchase a book of tickets to sample food: $10 (tasting) or $20 (hungry).

The panel of judges has been announced for the Tennessee Equality Project’s annual gumbo cook-off, to be held on February 19.

Keurig and Anheuser-Busch are going to team up to build an in-home booze brewer.

If you’re looking for a job, Downtown agency RedRover has several positions open. Great place to work, especially if you are a dog owner.

Did you know that there is a Little Rock to Memphis bicycle tour? It uses back roads, to avoid heavy traffic.

I had no idea there was a pet store Downtown! (But then, I don’t own any pets.) Taming the Wild is on Harbor Town Square.

That’s it for now. Probably I will hit Melissa Monday happy hour at Bardog after work.

80 minutes: Adulting Paul Ryburn style

When I was a child I dreamed of Saturdays as an adult. I dreamed I would sit down in my cardigan sweater to a fine dinner of ham, green beans, and rice casserole prepared by my wife, then afterward I would help my children with their homework as I laughed to the antics of our dog. Or maybe a cat, I was more of a cat person growing up but either would work.

So as an actual adult I walked out of Blind Bear around 6 yesterday and did the chihuahua walk (*) to City Market, where I purchased a fine dinner of Tostitos Scoops and Las Delicias guacamole. I came home, took off all my layers of clothes and threw them on the couch, and proceeded to scoop up my dinner. Then I lay down for a nap.

(*) There was no need to do the penguin walk because almost all the ice has melted on the Main Street Mall. However, it was 16 degrees outside. Anyone who has ever seen a chihuahua knows they shiver constantly. That was my walk home.

Hours later I woke up. “1:40,” the clock read. The adult I dreamed of being as a child might have gone to the refrigerator, made a pimiento cheese sandwich along with a glass of milk, and thought, “If it were a couple of weeks later the Girl Scout cookies would be here, and I could sneak a Thin Mint without the Mrs. knowing.”

The adult I actually became saw “1:40” and thought, the bars close at 3. I’VE GOT 80 MINUTES! Clothes on, back to the Bear.

It was a very entertaining second venture back out. East Memphians have no concept of personal space, I learned as an amateur wedged herself in between me and the person sitting to my right to order another drink she absolutely did not need. After she moved I reached to make sure my wallet was still in my pocket. Actually, I wasn’t so concerned for my wallet as I was for my troll, also in my pocket. Debit cards and drivers licenses can be replaced. There was a catfight up front and I got to watch two girls get thrown out.

Late night on the weekends, the mood gets more relaxed, and you learn things about your bartenders you didn’t know. I learned that Colin, although he grew up in Tacoma, Washington, was actually born in (if I can be serious for a minute) Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “Western Canada east of Vancouver is cattle country,” he told me and the others at the bar. “Every summer we have the Calgary Stampede rodeo, which is a huge drunk fest. Paul, you should go this summer. You accidentally bump into someone and they go, ‘Sorry I bumped into you, let me buy you a beer.’ and you go, ‘No, sorry I bumped into you, let me buy you and your wife a beer.’ That’s the way Canadians are.” The Stampede is July 7-16 this year, also known as “those 10 days it’s above freezing in Calgary.”

Colin told me that in winter, it gets so cold in Calgary that when people drive to the grocery store and park, there are stations where they can plug in their cars. No, these are not electric cars. These are plug-ins to block heaters which keep your engine from freezing while you shop. Article: How cold should it be before I plug my car into a block heater?

Related: Why you shouldn’t leave soda in your car when it’s freezing outside. Yep, learned this the hard way with the Saturn the year after I bought it, probably taking $1000 off its trade-in value after messing up the interior. Good thing I keep the Saturn until its trade value was practically zero.

I have more information on this Flying Sobies food truck that serves brunch at Ghost River 12-3 Sundays. I knew they had Cornish hen, but here are the details, as posted to the Ghost River Facebook page.

Flying Sobie’s offers three $10 combos: Hen & Waffle, Hen & Fries, and Hen Platter (Beans & Slaw) They also have items a la carte. You can get your hen 1 of 5 ways: Buffalo, Memphis Gold, Spicy Memphis Gold, Hawaiian Teriyaki, and Lemon Pepper.

From The Southern Weekend: Cheeses to take your grilled cheese to the next level

And, from Food & Wine, another comfort food: The best mac & cheeses in the US. None of them are from Memphis, but I thought I would link it in case I have any mac & cheese loving readers who travel for their jobs.

Beatles fans: The Mersey Beatles will return to Memphis on February 18 with a show at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts. There are many Beatles tribute bands, but only this one features all four lads born in Liverpool. They were the resident band at the Cavern Club for over a decade, the place where the Beatles themselves had a residency from 1961 to 1963. No less an authority than John Lennon’s sister has called them the most authentic tribute she has heard.

Loflin Yard will old a Singer-Songwriter Night in the Coach House this Wednesday from 9 to 11. The acoustic event will be hosted by Nick Redmond and this week featured talent will include Jana Misener and Mark Stuart.

Go Grizzlies, YOGA! Grizzlies Timeout for Yoga happens Saturday, January 21 at FedExForum from 12:30 to 2. Yoga tickets include a professionally instructed yoga class, a Grizzlies/Methodist Healthcare yoga mat, and a ticket to a Grizzlies game. Buy yoga tickets here and the deadline to purchase is 2:30 PM the day before.

Elmwood Cemetery will host What Lies Beneath: Stories & Secrets of the Elmwood Cottage Saturday, January 28 from 1:00 to 2:15. This will be a tour of the historic 1866 cottage and its furnishings. You’ll hear stories such as “Frozen Charlottes,” the mysterious dolls left on Elmwood graves more than 100 years ago. Other artifacts you’ll see include pen-and-ink burial records from more than two centuries ago. Advance registration is required. The cost is $15 and refreshments will be served.

The Grizzlies are back home tonight after a wild week on the West Coast. They will host the Utah Jazz tonight at 7 at FedExForum.

That’s it for this post. In a couple of hours I will be back at the Blind Bear for D-RANKS with B-RAD aka Hung Over Like a Bear Brunch. Plans after that to be figured out.


Saturday update

The Harlem Globetrotters make their 2017 return to the FedExForum for a fun-filled evening of basketball antics tonight. Show time is 7 PM and tickets are $43-185.

Belle Tavern has announced the addition of several new small plates on its bar menu. These include lobster, crab and shrimp bruschetta; blackened tomatoes with a crab and Creole remoulade; and a plate of three beef sliders. Sounds yummy! Belle is becoming one of my favorite places and I look forward to trying the new small plates soon.

Coffee, clothes and pastries: Today at The 101, the pop-up shop at 101 S. Main, Emmy Sprinkles will sell pastries while Dr. Bean sells coffee. Also, Brook Threads will be there selling clothes. 9 AM-2 PM.

The Chippendales have announced a show at the New Daisy for Wednesday, February 1.

Mulberry Jam featuring Alice Hasen will perform tonight at the Center for Southern Folklore at 7.

Tomorrow would have been Elvis’ 82nd birthday, or tomorrow is Elvis’ 82nd birthday if you’re one of those people who believes he’s still alive. To celebrate, tonight at 7:30 Terry Mike Jeffrey and his band and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will perform hits from Elvis’ movies at the Cannon Center for Performing Arts.

South Side Supper Club perform at Loflin Yard tomorrow, Sunday, January 8, from 2 to 5 PM in the Safe House. This is going to be a weekly gig.

Canadian comedienne Hannah Hogan will do a free show at the High Cotton taproom on January 31, co-sponsored by Canadian-themed restaurant Kooky Canuck. She’s known up in Canada as ‘the lady in the commercials’ and ‘the writing credit on that comedy show.’ She has performed at comedy festivals and clubs across the country. The show will feature Jennifer McAuliffe, also from Canada, and local Gayle Murray.

Scenarios have emerged to keep The Booksellers at Laurelwood open. Last week the store’s owner announced that it would close, probably next month.

From StyleBlueprint: Cheap eats recommended by Memphis foodies. None of the cheap eats are Downtown unfortunately but there is some good stuff on here. I will contribute my own recommendation: The chorizo huarache from Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos. It’s only about $7 and it will fill you up. Also, I don’t know if I have any readers who are vegetarians, but if I do, I will mention that I prefer the bean nachos ($5 the last time I had them) over the meat-topped version, and they too are a meal in themselves.

Last night was the Blind Bear’s 5th birthday party. I have mentioned the Hotsy-Totsy on here before, their baked potato topped with butter, sour cream, bacon and chives. I have had the potato in its basic format before, as well as topped with Colin’s chili. However, until yesterday I had not tried the “loaded” option, where you can top the potato with any or all of a long list of toppings. I added ranch, grilled onions, mushrooms, jalapenos, peppers, and pepper jack cheese to my potato. Here’s what it looked like when it came out:


And here’s what it looked like after I smooshed it all up:


Now that’s a meal! Please note that the troll is not included with the purchase of potato. There were four more “loaded” toppings I left off my potato but any or all of which can be included for the extra $2: salsa, blue cheese, Jager BBQ sauce, and tomatoes.

All week long weatherpeople were saying Memphis would get a “dusting” of snow Friday but it would be nothing to worry about. However, mid-afternoon Thursday posted that the models were now converging on a thin band of snow from Tipton County. TN to Tate County, MS that could drop 1 to 3 inches on the area. Erik from MWN is the meteorologist I trust the most, because he uses a lot of different models to arrive at his conclusions about the weather, rather than relying solely on one model. 1 to 3 inches would mean a possible snow day off work; as I posted yesterday, Memphis drivers are such idiots that even 1 inch can shut the city down.

However, I have learned not to take snow days for granted. I got up at 6 yesterday and shaved and showered, assuming I would be going to work. I typed up yesterday’s blog post and published it. I looked out the window, and there was more than a dusting on the roads, but less than an inch. I doubted that would be enough for the office to close.

Then I looked at Twitter. One of the news people I follow posted a photo taken at I-55 and State Line Road. “Heavy snow in North Mississippi,” she reported. YES!!!! State Line Road is the exit right before mine on the way to the office. Things were starting to look promising. I called our office’s inclement weather hotline, and heard a recording saying “headquarters will be closed today.”

SNOW DAY! Woooooooo!

Now, when I was younger, I would have jumped back in bed and slept for a few more hours. These days, though, once I’m up, I’m up. So I was snowed in with nothing to do but hang around the apartment, right?

Wrong! I live around the corner from a bar that opens at 8 AM on weekdays. Since I was dressed for work already, all I had to do was put on my jacket and do the penguin walk three quarters of a block to Bardog. As Bloom handed me a PBR, I asked “Do you have any……… specials?”

“Oh, shut your mouth,” Bloom said. “You know good and damn well what the special is.” Anytime snow is falling, Fireball is $2 at Bardog.


Now this is what I call WINNING AT LIFE. Photo taken at 8:13 AM. By the way, there were already 7 customers when I walked in. There were five third-shifters who had just got off work at a hospital, and two other regulars who know about the $2 deal.

Now, I knew I was going to have to pace myself, with a 5th anniversary party 13 hours in the future. I also knew I was going to need to eat lunch and dinner. When I saw that Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick was jumping on the $2 Fireball train for snow days, I thought that would be my plan for lunch. Also, Max’s Sports Bar made the SMART business decision to open 4 1/2 hours early at noon, so I could see my friends on the south side. I tabbed out about 11:30 and began my walk south.

However, it took me less than a block to realize the South Main district was too damn far and it was too damn cold. I revised my plan to the Majestic for lunch. Friday they have seafood specials, and I got a cup of New England clam chowder and a seafood flatbread. Perfect to warm me up and that food hit the spot. Never a bad experience at the Majestic Grille.

From there I hit the Silly Goose next, then over to the Blind Bear for dinner and their anniversary party. I thought about dressing in ’20s attire and getting another photo on the dining room wall, but it was too cold to consider wearing anything other than layers of thick warm clothes. Great party, great day.

Okay, gotta hit Publish and get to my project for today, which is rigging up a fan outside Bardog’s front window, to make the snow on the ground blow around and make Bloom think it’s another $2 Fireball day. Back tomorrow with more news.


Friday update

This nicely sums up why driving in Memphis when there’s less than an inch of snow on the ground is such a headache. It’s not that driving in snow is a problem; people up North do it all the time. However, driving in snow with IDIOTS all over the road is a big problem. And I’d be willing to venture a guess that Memphis has more idiots per mile of interstate highway than any other large town in America.

If you must drive in this weather:

  • Headlights on
  • If the prevailing speed of traffic is, say, 30, accept it and go with the flow. Yes it sucks going that slow but don’t get impatient. It won’t help.
  • Watch for patches of black ice
  • Don’t tailgate
  • Look an extra time before changing lanes. That thing on the left of your steering wheel is called a turn signal and you need to be using it.
  • And for goodness sake, put your damn phone away!

All right, let’s get on with the news. The Commercial Appeal has a report on boutique hotels gaining steam Downtown. Hotel Napoleon and several others either have recently opened or will soon open. Nice options for people who want something more cozy and intimate than big hotels like the Peabody and the Sheraton.

Grant Hill, Steve Smith and Lisa Leslie will be the recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum’s Sports Legacy award at the January 15 Grizzlies game at FedExForum. It will be the annual MLK game but this one will be played on Sunday, the day before MLK Day. The Grizz host the Chicago Bulls at 8 that night. On MLK Day itself the players and coaches will participate in a day of service, working with the Union Mission to feed 200 homeless.

The decision by Booksellers at Laurelwood to close meant that they could not host my friend Angela Copeland’s book signing for her book Breaking the Rules & Getting the Job. A Downtown independent bookseller came to the rescue. The signing will be Tuesday, January 12 6:30-8:30 PM at South Main Book Juggler, just south of the Arcade restaurant on Main. Come talk to Angela and hear why hiring a career coach could be just the right move to get your career on the fast track. Be sure to talk to owners Jean and Clayton too and check out the many books on the shelves. The owners are two of my Max’s Sports Bar buddies.

This is pretty cool – Memphis Skyline Fire Pit!

There was a new bear in the Blind Bear’s dining room last night. My troll decided she wanted to make a new friend.


Don’t forget that the Bear’s 5th birthday celebration is tonight starting at 9. $3 Moonshine & Cinnamon Whiskey shots, $5 Well Drinks, $6 Bootlegger Mule, Moscow Mule, Dark & Stormy, Manhattans, Old Fashioned, Moonshine Tea & Irish Smash.

One more reminder: If you’re off work today, snow falling means $2 Fireball at Bardog. They open at 8 AM on weekdays, so if you were already up and dressed and then found out your office was closed, go to Bardog instead!

Thursday update

Great news for Downtown convention business: There is a plan to build a new 600-room hotel on a plot of land at Front and Poplar, adjacent to the Cook Convention Center. Hotel rooms near the convention center are badly needed and may help attract additional conventions to Memphis. In addition to the rooms, the hotel will offer 120,000 square feet of meeting space.

Done deal: The building at 363 Mulberry and the adjacent lot have been sold to a group including Aldo from Bardog, Slider Inn, and Aldo’s Pizza Pies. The location has been rumored to become a second Slider Inn this year.

The January 15 concert by the Bar-Kays and ConFunkShun at the Cannon Center has unfortunately been canceled. If you already bought a ticket, please return to your point of purchase for a refund.

Names have been announced for the Cardinals Caravan program coming to the Home Plate Club at AutoZone Park on Friday, January 13. Current players Randal Grichuk, Luke Weaver, Sam Tuivailala and Austin Gomber will be there, as will Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp and Cardinal alumnus Danny Cox. Cardinals broadcaster Mike Claiborne will emcee the event, which is free to attend. A ticket system will be implemented for autographs. Doors will open at 5:30, first come first served, program at 6:30.

If you’re a huge fan of fresh produce like I am, you probably miss having the Memphis Farmers Market as a shopping resource on Saturdays during the winter months. Here’s an option for you: the deep winter subscription from Bring It Food Hub. For $20 a week, you can get a bag of local produce and grains for 8 weeks (January 10-March 3). The produce is planned to include onion scallions, kale, collards, parsley, cilantro, swiss chard, carrots, radishes, beets, head lettuce, salad mix, arugula, bok choi, turnips, cauliflower, celery, spinach, and broccoli. You can also get add-ons like eggs, bread, cheese and coffee, and you can purchase Pay It Forward bags to help get fresh produce to people experiencing food insecurity in Memphis.

The Daily News has an article on Mutt Island Doggie Daycare, a 10,000 square foot space that opened in The Edge recently at 320 Monroe. The space allows dogs to have a yard to play in while their owners are at work, and there are separate areas for large and small dogs. They also offer overnight boarding with doggie suites that do not involve crates or cages. They have full grooming services as well.

The Daily News also has a chat with Penelope Huston, the new vice president of marketing for the Downtown Memphis Commission.

A food truck selling cereal will hit the streets of Memphis in early 2017.

The Blind Bear is having its 5 year anniversary party Friday night. If you’re a fan of those Prohibition Era-style photos on the dining room wall, you can be in one – photographer Joey Warner will be back to take pictures.

A few people have reported flurries in Memphis this morning, causing people to go “BREAD AND MILK AND MILK AND BREAD…” (suburbanites) and “$2 Fireball at Bardog!” (Downtowners)

Gotta agree with the CA’s Michael Donahue at his Best Bet for dining this week: The duck fried rice at South of Beale. That is some good stuff.

That’s it for now. Probably I’ll be out at Silly Goose happy hour after work.

Wednesday update

Soup Sunday comes early this year, on January 29, at FedExForum. This is the first time I can ever remember it being in January. For those who are not familiar with this event, it is the annual fundraiser for Youth Villages, a nonprofit that helps emotionally and behaviorally troubled children live successfully. Many of Memphis’ best restaurants prepare soup and other goodies in support of Youth Villages.

Soup Sunday works like this: The restaurants have booths all along the concourse at FedExForum. You get a cup holder that can hold four cups of soup (although some people modify it to hold more than four). You can sample all the soups you want, and vote on which was your favorite. Lines can get long, so you will often find yourself eating one cup of soup as you stand in line for the next.

I will give the same advice I give every year: Get there early. The event is 11 to 2, but this is not an event where you want to show up at 12:45. The best restaurants will have run out of soup well before then. Best bet is to be standing in line outside the arena at 10:55. Once you get in, seek out the restaurants you think will have the best soup. Insider tip: Bardog Tavern is a repeat winner with their Chicken Velvet soup.

Passes are now available for sale for the International Blues Challenge, which will return to Beale Street January 31-February 4. This is your chance to hear the best blues in the world, as bands come from many countries to compete in the challenge. Here’s the 2017 IBC schedule.

Small Shop Saturday returns to the Ghost River taproom this Saturday, January 7, from 1 to 4 in the afternoon. Every Saturday the brewery invites a vendor to set up shop in the taproom. Phillip Ashley Chocolates will be the vendor this week. These chocolates are hand-crafted in a local studio, using fair trade chocolate and the finest ingredients. At least one flavor of chocolate will be paired with one of the brewery’s offerings.

The following day, Sunday, January 8, the brewery will host Songwriter Sessions from noon to 3, this week featuring Crockett Hall and Graham Winchester. Bloody Beers made with Nikki’s Hot Products and Vice-Mosas will be the drink specials, and the Flying Sobies food truck will be back with their Cornish hens and waffles. Football will be on TV and there will be board games to play.

For those of you who live out of town, Thursday will be your best chance of the season to catch your Memphis Tigers on TV. The Tigers will host UConn at FedExForum at 6 PM that night with the game nationally televised on ESPN2.

Phil Gagliano, a Memphian who played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s, passed away last week.

Sad to hear that Memphis’ largest independent book store, The Booksellers at Laurelwood, will close next month. A liquidation sale will get underway Friday.

100 S’mores are going to be given away at Fourth Bluff Ice Rink starting tonight at 5.

Sorry if the updates are a bit infrequent this week. Not feeling too well. Back tomorrow, hopefully.

Guest post

by Perjorie T. Roll


Hi there! Paul had one too many PBRs and passed out in the back room. I’m his troll, Perjorie. You have seen me in a few of his posts. I will be filling in for him tonight.

I have news about Paul’s friend, the Nuh-Uh Girl, who is vacationing in Park City, Utah. She is on a ski trip and she reports that she got six inches last night. I hope those inches were extremely pleasurable and satisfying for the Nuh-Uh Girl.

I met Aldo Saturday!


Paul brought me to Bardog Tavern, where they were decorating for New Year’s Eve.



Starring Panda


Me and B-RAD at Blind Bear


Da Bears




This guy stalks Paul relentlessly all over Downtown. Blind Bear, Silly Goose, wherever. If Paul is there he’s there.


He just won’t leave Paul alone!


I’m glad I don’t drink rum.


Hanin makin dat monay mane


Don’tcha just love those crazy trolls?




Double rainbow. 13200. I hope the guy who sold Paul his car gets that.




I had to wake Paul up to get a picture of these girls from Miami.  I was in the middle of my guest post and everything.

That’s it. Back Tuesday with more news.

Caprese Salad @ Blind Bear

Hibernation Fries loaded with ground beef and cheese. The Jager BBQ sauce Bear burger. Colin’s famous chili. The Gangster Philly. All good stuff. But they’re all, I guess you could say, heavy. There needed to be something light on the Blind Bear’s menu to balance out all the heavy items. The Caprese Salad fills that void.


The salad is an Italian classic, with thick slices of buffalo mozzarella cheese alongside sliced tomatoes and basil, drizzled with a balsamic reduction. I decided to order it mid-afternoon yesterday. I wasn’t hungry, but I knew I needed to eat. This was yummy and it didn’t make me feel full.

I have a feeling there may have been people, ladies in particular, who have thought in the past, “I like the Blind Bear but there’s nothing on the menu I can eat there.” Come check out the Caprese Salad. A menu option that will get more women in the place – I am all in favor of that!

Happy New Year to all my readers! I will be on the way to the Blind Bear here in a couple of hours, for Sunday Hung Over Like a Bear Brunch, also known as D-RANKS with B-RAD. It’s bonus day – a Sunday without a Monday behind it – so who knows what kind of mischief there is to get into? The amateurs have consumed their $18 martinis and gone “woooooooo” and now they’re back in Collierville where they belong. Time for the pros to come out!