Saturday update

Music on Main kicks off today at 11 AM. This concert series was established by South of Beale and Shawn Gates of MyBlock Music. There will be free, family-friendly performances by School of Rock Memphis and the Visible Music College Performance Band. Promoting local music and South Main, there will be event-themed drinks and giveaways.

Can’t make it to Memphis for the MLK50 program on Wednesday? No problem, it will be streaming live from 10 to 6:30 that day. Allow extra time for driving if you come Downtown. There will be 100,000 to 150,000 people in the area, and if former presidents attend that will require additional security.

I wonder where President Trump will play golf on Wednesday…

Whiskey news!

J-E-double F,  J-A-double R-E-double T, “Double J,” Jeff Jarrett, will make an appearance at Jerry Lawler’s Bar and Grill this afternoon at 2:30. Jarrett is the co-founder of TNA Wrestling, a former NWA and TNA world champion, and was known as “The King of the Mountain” in that promotion. Known best for smashing guitars over his opponents’ heads, Jarrett was also WCW world champion and WWF Intercontinental champion. He will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 6 days. This afternoon at King Lawler’s he will be available for autographs and photos.

Hey King… when we getting a Reggie B. Fine appearance at your bar? Maybe in June when it’s appropriate weather for him to put the fur coat on? We need to get him out to mingle with all us low-budgets.

The Mountaintop, a fictional depiction of Dr. King’s last night on Earth, will be performed tonight at the Halloran Centre. It is set entirely in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel.

If you go to SneakFest today at FedExForum, you’ll get a complimentary ticket to the Grizzlies game vs. Sacramento on April 6. With Zach Randolph and Vince Carter on the Kings’ roster, the game will be a blast from the past.

The Easter Bunny will be at Bass Pro today for those of you who want a picture with your kids.

Today at 1, professional dance instructors will lead Dancing for the Dogs at Rumba Room. $10 per person, benefiting Blackwell Animal Rescue Center which has rescued over a thousand animals in the past 3 years.

Yesterday for lunch I went back to Cafe Med across Kirby Parkway from where I work. I walked this time and it was absolutely no problem. With a divider in the median, I only had to cross half of Kirby at one time. I got the Aleppo gyro yesterday.

The Aleppo has gyro meat, pesto, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes and roasted peppers. Once again they piled it so high with meat that I couldn’t finish it. I have to say, I never thought about pesto and cheese on a gyro but it was quite good. This will be one of the go-to items I get from the place I have decided is my walkable go-to restaurant across the street. Next on the agenda for me is the Spartan gyro with hot giardiniera.

Do I have any Syrian readers, and if so, do you really put provolone on your gyros? I suspect that the gyros are named for important cities in the region where gyros are common, and the names don’t really reflect how gyros are actually made in those cities.

I’m discovering that I have quite a few restaurants that are walkable from work: Cafe Med, One and Only BBQ, Tropical Cafe, Danver’s (yes it is open and it is a Danver’s), City East Bagel, T.J. Mulligan’s, and Jersey Subs. If I cross Poplar then Swanky’s, Petra, and George Lapides favorite Mister B’s are also in play. Other walkable dining options include the dumpster behind Bougie Kroger and McDonald’s, but I will try to avoid those. There’s also a First Tennessee ATM within walking distance of work. It’s a drive-thru ATM but yes, I will be “that guy” who walks up to it.

You know what’s odd? Last night I was out at the Blind Bear. That was supposed to be my reward for a week of work, but you know what I was doing? I was on the maps app on my phone, looking at websites, trying to decide where I’m going to eat lunch on Monday. I’m actually looking forward to Mondays now…

Not to fast-forward through the weekend, though, because there is important business to be done. Today I will support our BBQ team president John D as he wraps up a major deal. Can’t let the cat out of the bag yet, but this deal plus loosening up our door policy will return us to the party team feel we had for many years but were lacking last year. This is also a move that will do wonders for our tip jar. I may have an announcement as soon as tomorrow.

I’m wearing our 2016 team T-shirt featuring Terrance and Phillip today. “Stuff your fat cap face Uncle Faux’cue…You’re a brisket biting, broasting Uncle Faux’cue…” Some of our team members dislike that shirt, finding it offensive. I disagree. I think it’s brilliant. If you don’t get the reference, see below. (If you’re reading this blog at work I would put headphones on)

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

Friday update #2

Happy Good Friday to all of my readers, and to those of you who have the day off work, Happy Better Friday.

Memphis Tigers men’s basketball coach just won me over as a fan big time. Arkansas Online reports that Penny wants to renew the basketball rivalry with Arkansas. The Tigers and Hogs played 12 times between 1991 and 2003, and it was very much a rivalry. Penny wants to bring that back. Excellent, and the sequel to a great story. Larry Finch’s protege (Penny) vs. Nolan Richardson’s protege (Mike Anderson). Let’s make this happen!

Of course, to get Arkansas on the schedule, the Tigers may have to give up heated rivalry games against teams like Mercer, Samford, or Bryant. Whoa, the Tigers may get their strength of schedule into the double digits if Penny is successful booking these SEC opponents.

Loflin Yard will have its two year anniversary party Saturday, April 7. Special brunch with acoustic music in the Coach House at 11, Adult Field Day at 2, live music at 8.

Art Village Gallery will have the opening of its MLK50 tribute exhibit, Beyond the Balcony, tonight from 7 to 9 PM. Seven local, national, and international artists will explore what it means to ascend beyond the past. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

117 Prime still needs a few cooks, a couple of oyster shuckers, a dishwasher, and a few server assistants.

The CA has five things you need to know about MLK50 parking and security next week. At this time it is unclear if any former presidents will attend.

PreLaw Magazine has rated the University of Memphis Law School as the best facility in the country. This is the second time in four years the school, located Downtown at Front and Madison, has earned the honor.

If you have the MyFitnessPal app, change your password ASAP. It was hacked.

Tankathon has current probabilities of teams getting each pick in the NBA draft lottery. As of this morning they have Memphis at 51.4% to get one of the top three players in the draft.

Morris Glass is hiring a full-time delivery driver. This is a great family-owned company. You need to be okay carefully handling windshield glass weighing 20-45 pounds but no experience is necessary; they are willing to train. Must have a clean driving record, and there is a background check and drug test.

I decided to keep lunch close to the office yesterday, going across Kirby Parkway to Cafe Med, a Mediterranean restaurant in a strip mall just east of Bougie Kroger. They have 18 different kinds of gyros on the menu – 14 steamed, 4 grilled. I decided to stick with the classics and ordered the Original for my first visit.

Gyro meat in a pita topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber sauce. In case the photo doesn’t do it justice, let me make it clear that they HEAPED the meat on this thing. Excellent value – getting lunch at a Germantown restaurant for under $11 is uncommon. Also, I got the sense that the staff truly strives for customer satisfaction in everything they do. I will be back to try other gyros on the menu. The restaurant was not busy when I left around noon, normally peak time for restaurants. There is a better-known Mediterranean restaurant (Petra) half a block away. I hope people won’t overlook Cafe Med as a result.

Now, having said that, I am irritated about one aspect of my lunch experience, and it has nothing to do with Cafe Med. It has to do with me. I violated one of my core beliefs as a Downtowner yesterday at lunch. Looking out my office window, I would estimate Cafe Med to be about 150 feet away. And yet, how did I get there?


It never even occurred to me that I could walk there, and it would in fact be faster to get there than driving. Yes I would have to cross Kirby Parkway on foot, but you know what? I’ve probably crossed Union 10,000 times and have yet to get run over. I think I would make it.

I cannot believe I drove. Germantown is rubbing off on me, and in this case, it’s not a good thing.


This is my second post of the day. Early this morning I did a preview post of the excellent food to be served by the New Wing Order food truck. If you haven’t read it, scroll on down. Back tomorrow with more news.

Recipe for success: New Wing Order previews new food truck menu

New Wing Order is a team that competes in Southern Hot Wing Fest here in Memphis. In 2015 and 2017 they were Grand Champions, and in 2016 they came in third. This September their wings and other offerings will be available for the public to purchase, as they roll out their food truck here in Memphis. New Wing Order was kind enough to invite Memphis food writers, bloggers, and social media gurus to an event last night to preview the food truck’s menu.

Before the food came out, principal owner Jesse explained how this all happened. Originally from Nashville, he came down to Memphis to watch New Wing Order compete in Wing Fest. He knew he had to be a part of it and before long he added an obsession with wings to his obsessions with cooking and entrepreneurship. He worked his way up through the food truck industry in Nashville to learn the ropes. Now he and the team are ready to get the food truck on the road and start serving the Memphis area. I have said for years that the best restaurants are extensions of their owners’ personalities and that is what we have here.

Memphis Buffalo Traditional Wings, the wing that led them to two grand championships. Buffalo sauce with a nod to Memphis BBQ. Good stuff and the heat is there. It’s my belief that if you eat 8 or 10 hot wings your eyes should be watering a bit. These would do it.

Boneless wings. Clockwise from trollie trollie at the top: garlic parmesan, Tennessee teriyaki, Cajun honey hot, Lynchburg fire.

The Cajun honey hot was the most flavorful in my opinion, although I liked them all. It’s good to have variety. It’s also good that they have a boneless wing (garlic parmesan) that does not depend on heat or sauce. Something for everyone.

I don’t know if I have any longtime readers who are vegetarians or big fans of avocado, but if I do, these fried avocado tacos have you in mind. They are vegan friendly. The taco was tasty and had a good mix of flavors, although I would probably stick to the meat options.

They NAILED it with the pork verde taco. Having been on a BBQ team for 12 years, I know good pork, and this was the stuff. Slow smoking does wonders. Tender and juicy, the pulled pork soaked in the flavor. The best dish of the night and I made sure the New Wing Order folks knew I felt that way. I know they are a wing team but do not miss out on these tacos.

Paul Gagliano of Southern Hot Wing Fest was nice enough to gift each of us with a free ticket to the festival this year. The festival is expanding and moving to Tiger Lane.

The festival schedule.

They gave us a copy of their food truck and catering menus. After the event I showed the menus to a few people at the Blind Bear and it drew oohs and ahhs.

Thanks to New Wing Order for a delicious and informative night. I predict success in their future and look forward to seeing them on the streets of Memphis.

Thursday update

Yesterday’s lunch was so good that I am going to lead right off with “what I had to eat on my work lunch hour.” I went to PizzaRev next to the International Paper headquarters on Poplar. Build-your-own-burrito fast food places have become a dime a dozen around town, but PizzaRev is doing something fresh by extending the concept to build-your-own personal pizza. Yes, I said fast food and pizza in the same sentence.

The way it works is, you look at their menu and you choose your crust, you choose your sauce, you choose your cheese, and you choose your toppings (proteins and veggies). If you’re not feeling creative you can order one of their “our way” pizzas.

So, I started building my pizza. I told the lady behind the counter I had never been there before and she was super sweet and helpful. I got the signature thin crust, alfredo sauce, and mozzarella. “I’ll have the smoked ham for my meat,” I told her.

“You realize it’s unlimited toppings, don’t you?” she replied. “With what you have now and a drink, it’ll be $11.80 with tax. You won’t spend more if you add more toppings.” So I added crispy bacon as a second meat, along with mushrooms, black olives, and red onions. They build your pizza on a wooden paddle, which they then stick in their 900-degree stone oven. It’s done in 3 minutes, which is how pizza can be fast food. This was my pizza:

This was delicious and I was done less than 35 minutes after I walked through the door, giving me a little time to explore the neighborhood. They are on UberEats and BiteSquad if you need your pizza delivered. They have an app as well with a rewards program, and while I don’t usually download restaurant apps, I see myself returning to PizzaRev often enough to earn some serious rewards. If you decide to get the PizzaRev app enter PAULRYB3053 as the promo code.

You can also host a fundraiser at PizzaRev and keep 20% of the proceeds.

I know Pyro’s is a similar concept. I will eventually get there too, but PizzaRev is a much more convenient drive.

I am really starting to embrace my Germantown work location and the great places to eat nearby (although, PizzaRev is technically within the Memphis city limits by a block or two). I am also starting to embrace going to lunch right at 11 AM. I get there before the restaurants get busy, and when I get back to the office at noon my co-workers are at lunch and I have the place to myself for a little while. Also, I since I return to the office about the time many are leaving for lunch, I get their good parking spaces.

On to the news… MATA will offer free bus rides next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in conjunction with the MLK50 observance.

Explore Bike Share has announced locations for its first 60 stations and there will be quite a few Downtown. There will be weekly, monthly, and yearly memberships ranging to $12 to $120. That gets you unlimited bike rides on state-of-the-art bikes with solar powered panels that have GPS and tell you things like miles traveled and calories burned. All you have to do when you’re riding on a membership is check in at one of the stations once every 60 minutes. A single ride without a membership will cost $5.

There’s also one other very cool membership option: “Give Your Neighbors a Lift,” for $200 a year. That buys you, and one Memphian in need of transportation, a one-year membership to the bike sharing service.

Belle Tavern hosts Michter’s Class Whiskey Tasting Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3:30 PM. $65 plus tax and grat gets you heavy hors d’oeuvres and 1 ounce pours of Michter’s

  • US*1 Rye
  • Small Batch Bourbon
  • US*1 Sour Mash
  • 10 Year Bourbon

Seating is very limited, so if you want to attend, to not delay to make reservations.

The Memphis Flyer has the complete story about the court case that resulted in Christopher Reyes, Sarah Fleming and their two small children to be evicted and to owe more than $100,000 in damages. I will say it again: The Madison Hotel and associated properties can expect no further promotion in my blog of events being held there.

Noel King of NPR is coming to town for the MLK50 celebration. He is interested in collecting stories of memories of Dr. King and how Memphis has changed since his death. Share your story on this comment form and an NPR producer may get in touch with you.

The Memphis in May Beale Street Music Fest app is now available for Apple and Android devices. You can view the musicians, set up your schedule, and view food vendor options.

Max’s Sports Bar will have a crawfish boil again this Saturday. You know the drill… bar opens at 11, first batch of crawfish out around noon, cooked by Glaze and his team, some of the best crawfish in town. You can get 1 or 2 pounds and they come with sides of corn, taters, sausage, and mushrooms.

There will be Games on Front the next five Fridays after work in the Cossitt Library courtyard, Front at Monroe. Free live music, free yard games, free hot dogs. There will be beer as well but I am assuming that isn’t free. This week’s live entertainment is Misti Rae and Adam Holton.

Downtown Night at the Grizzlies has been postponed until next season.

South of Beale is hiring for multiple positions. Apply in person between 1 and 4 PM Monday-Friday.

The CA’s Jennifer Biggs recently discovered the Snohaus Memphis snowcream truck and has a review. The truck will be on South Main tomorrow night.

My troll and I have a tasting to attend after work, so I won’t be out at the usual spots for happy hour. Look for a report on the tasting tomorrow, as well as more news.

Wednesday update

There will be street closures in the South Main district Tuesday, April 3 at 12:00 AM through Thursday, April 5 at 12:00 AM. The closures are to set up a border for a safety zone for the MLK50 festivities on the grounds of the National Civil Rights Museum. The boundaries will be Second on the east, G.E. Patterson on the south, Main on the west, and Talbot on the north. The main program for MLK50 will be Wednesday, April 4, the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. King, from 8 AM to 6:30 PM. There will be speakers, music, dance, and spoken word on a large stage.

Artist Chris Reyes, his partner Sarah Fleming and their two small children have lost their court battle to remain in their home for the past 25 years at 1 South Main. They were forced out by the new owners of the Madison Hotel, who want to take over the space. Madison owners: Do not expect coverage of events held at your facilities in this blog anymore. You did wrong by good people. You’re going to find that Downtown is a tightly-knit community, a village within a big city. This kind of thing does not play well here.

You have four days left to buy tickets for Tour de Grizz 2018. This is a special ticket that gets you a ticket to the Sunday, April 8 Grizzlies game vs. the Detroit Pistons, a 1.5-mile bike ride to FedExForum with fellow Grizz Fans, and a tour T-shirt. There will be live music and entertainment from noon to 1 PM at the Tennessee Welcome Center, 119 N. Riverside Drive. At 1:15 the bike ride to FedExForum will commence, with an escort by MPD for riders’ safety. There will be special Bike Valet Parking for the riders at the arena. Tip-off is 2:30, and following the game there will be a bike ride back to the welcome center. Riders must be at least 10 years old and provide their own bike and safety equipment including helmet and lights. All fans attending the game (Tour de Grizz or otherwise) will receive a free Grizzlies poster.

The Grizzlies host the Portland Trailblazers at FedExForum tonight at 7. Portland point guard Damian Lilliard will miss tonight’s game, having flown home for the birth of his child. The Grizz have their best chance for a two-game winning streak in quite some time.

A portable recording booth called Truth Booth will be set up at Memphis Park Tuesday, April 3 from 2 to 6. This is the public’s chance to have their voices amplified as they share their thoughts, ideas, dreams and truths about anything that inspires them. The DMC sought advice from the National Civil Rights Museum on the most appropriate place to locate this booth. The booth will have a second stop in Memphis Friday, April 6 3-6 PM at RedZone Ministries in Orange Mound.

The Memphis Flyer has an article on big changes at the Riverfront Development Corporation including a new leader, a new name to be rolled out later this month, and a new business plan.

Got a piece of major Downtown brunch news that I am holding until Sunday morning. Make a note to check back at that time. This will not be an Easter or April Fool’s Day announcement. Hmmm… wonder if any parents will not put out Easter baskets and tell their kids “the bunny didn’t come” as an April Fool’s joke? That’d be pretty funny. Good way to save some money on candy too, and possibly dentist bills.

A couple of weeks I discussed how to know if one of your friends is hiding posts from you on Facebook: Put them on your Close Friends list. You’ll get notifications every time they post. If on multiple occasions you click the notification to see what they posted, and you get a notification the post cannot be displayed right now, there’s a good chance they are hiding posts from you. I now have a screen capture of what you will see on a phone:

I saw a screen like this approximately once every week or two September 2015-May 2016. I even saw a screen like this one Friday in December 2015 when I was in a hospital in Little Rock, believing that my mom had a stroke and might not recover.

No new Germantown lunchtime discovery to tell you about today, because I returned to the Indian buffet yesterday. Well, I did discover that they change up some of the dishes on the buffet daily. Goat vindaloo for the win! BAAAAAAA!

Trump is starting a trade war with China. Statistics site FiveThirtyEight has built a trade war simulator that will give you a sense of what it takes to win a trade war.

That’ll do it for now! Back tomorrow.

I tried Mountain Dew Ice so you don’t have to + Tuesday news

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of Mountain Dew, an even bigger fan of Mountain Dew Throwback, and a big fan of Mountain Dew energy drink Kickstart, particularly the orange, black cherry, and lemon-lime flavors. It’s almost impossible to find the lemon-lime anymore though. I think they discontinued it. So when I saw the rollout of Mountain Dew Ice, a lemon-lime drink with a hint of Dew, I thought, maybe that’s the second coming of Mountain Dew Kickstart.

It’s not. It tastes like Sprite with four times the sugar. I made it through half a bottle and threw the rest away. Don’t bother with Dew Ice.

Time for “where’s Paul eating on his lunch hour in Germantown.”. Yesterday’s trip was to Garibaldi’s Pizza out in Saddle Creek for a Versuvian Steak sandwich.

This is their special recipe hamburger steak prepared with parmesan and onions cooked ’til piping hot, topped with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mustard. They asked if I wanted cheese, which seemed like sacrilege since I never ordered the Versuvian steak with cheese at the Walker location when I was a graduate student. However, yesterday I decided to experiment. Verdict: Get the cheese. A side of tater tots rounded out my lunch nicely.

I also learned something valuable: There are ZERO traffic lights on Poplar Pike between Kirby Parkway, where my office is located, and West Street where I turn to go to Garibaldi’s. I am going to use Poplar Pike from now on to get to the heart of Germantown for lunch, even when the restaurant I am going to is on Poplar Avenue.

On Saturday, April 14 there will be a Downtown Lifestyle Tour presented by the Downtown Memphis Commission, a tour of 10 homes in the Downtown core and the north part of Downtown. It will be from 1 to 6 in the afternoon and ticket holders can tour the homes in any order, and the DMC will have a free shuttle service for those who choose to use it. The tour also includes a walk through a model home that is going to become one of America’s first homes to be AIA2030 Challenge, Zero Net Energy [ZNE] and LEED Platinum certified. Tickets are $10 in advance, $20 at the door.

If you’re impatient and can’t wait for the new Hattie B’s location to open on Cooper, head to Wiseacre Saturday night for your Nashville hot chicken fix. The Hattie B’s food truck will be on site 3-9 PM or until they sell out. Crystal Shrine will open for JEFF the Brotherhood from Nashville at 7:30.

Starting today The Dirty Crow Inn will have smoked bacon wrapped shrimp.

Read about Rebecca Dull, the new executive director of the Memphis Farmers Market. Two more Saturdays and the Farmers Market will be back! At the request of their vendors, their hours this year will be 8 AM to 1 PM.

The Memphis Tigers baseball team hosts #5 Arkansas at AutoZone Park this evening.

The SneakFest Sneaker Expo comes to FedExForum this Saturday.

Job news: Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Advisors is looking to hire a Marketing Coordinator/Graphic Designer.

Some of you heard fireworks last night and wondered what was the occasion. It appears that it was for a private party on the terrace of Bass Pro.

Dress as a bunny on Easter Sunday at Loflin Yard and you’ll get an extra card for Cerrito Bingo.

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

Monday update

MLK50, the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is right around the corner and a lot of big events are being planned. The National Civil Rights Museum will have extended hours March 30-April 6 and will have several special events. Read about the plans here.

Clayborn Temple, the site where the “I AM A MAN” signs were distributed in the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike that brought Dr. King to Memphis, will have a program of MLK50 events as well.

Also check out the City of Memphis MLK50 website for more information.

South Main Trolley Night celebrates Easter this Friday, with most of the shops in the area staying open until 9 or later. There will be Songwriter Night at South Main Sounds (starts 7 PM), the Earnestine & Hazel’s House Band will perform (starts 7 PM), and Merit Koch and Todd Nations play The Vault on G.E. Patterson (8:30 PM). There will be aerialists and fire dancers, and weather permitting there will be additional live music along the street. South Main Association will have a private area with complimentary food and beverages next to Bluff City Coffee.

Drink & Draw returns to Ghost River Friday, April 13 from 7 to 9. This is part game show, part art class, and all fun. Artists and non-artists alike are welcome, and there will be prizes for Best Drawing, Worst Drawing, and more. $5 includes all the supplies you will need.

Modest Mouse has announced a show at the Orpheum for Saturday, July 14. Tickets will go on sale this Friday.

Congratulations to my friend and longtime reader Ptolemy Kat, who was crowned Queen of the Ptolemy Carnival krewe this past weekend.

Carol Coletta has been named the new president and CEO of Riverfront Development Corporation, replacing Benny Lendermon. Excellent choice.

CBS has Stormy Daniels’ interview that aired on 60 Minutes last night.

That’s it for now, time to go grab lunch. Back tomorrow with more news.

Moody Ques Meat & Greet recap: BBQ, T-shirts, sponsors; new, much less rigid door policy for guests

Yesterday the Moody Ques had our Meat & Greet on the rooftop of Jamie and Aaron’s condo at 648 Riverside. This was a chance for team members to get to know one another before BBQ Fest, and for members to get information on what’s going on with the team this year.

First of all, meet our pitmaster, Kris May, on the right in the photo above with the baseball cap and glasses. Kris has been part of a team called Memphis Squeal that has competed in regionals for years, winning many trophies and beating some of the biggest names in BBQ. Now we are partnering with them to compete in BBQ Fest under the Moody Ques name, combining their expertise in the kitchen with our knowledge of how to throw the best damn party in Tom Lee Park.

Kris cooked three butts  for us to try. He gave a 5-minute presentation on preparation of the meat and demonstrated how the bone came apart cleanly and without a struggle. I recorded Kris’ presentation on my iPhone. It does contain some secrets that we don’t want to share with other teams, so I am going to get the video to vice-president Jamie for editing. Eventually I hope to post a condensed version on the team website, with the full video being made available to team sponsors.

Oh… speaking of sponsors, we announced two new ones yesterday!

DSV is a leader in the industry of global transport and logistics. Whether you need to transport cargo by air, land, or road, they can do it, and they cover customs brokerage as well. We are pleased to announced that DSV has signed on board as the main sponsor for the Moody Ques this year.

Envision Memphis, the gym on the top floor of the Cadre Building at Second and Monroe, has also signed on as a sponsor. They can help you forge a lifestyle of first-class fitness and well-being. Mark Akin of Envision is a friend of many on the team.

We know how to party in style with great locally brewed beer. We had Ghost River Golden and Ghost River Grindhouse Cream Ale on tap for our members and guests.

There were plenty of mixed drinks too.

Our Moody Ques West Virginia contingent: Mike, and our vegetarian from West Virginia, Aaron. That dip on the table there was outstanding.

After Kris’s presentation, it was time to dig in. Kris brought his signature rub and a selection of sauces for us to try.

One of Kris’s sauces was an Alabama white BBQ sauce. I have heard about this for years but never got to try it until yesterday. It was REALLY good, so good that I went back for seconds because I wanted more of it.

Josh who prints our team T-shirts and vice-president Jamie. Go see Josh at Winfield’s at 2 S. Main, across Madison from Walgreens, if you need team shirts printed. He does quality work at a very reasonable price.

After dinner we all gathered on the rooftop deck for team announcements, led by team vice-president Jamie. Even if you were not at yesterday’s team event, it is not too late to join the Moody Ques. Membership goes up by $5o on April 1, but for now it is $390 individual/$580 couple (must be an established, real-life couple). You can pay your dues on the team website (right sidebar on a monitor, bottom of the page on a mobile device). Here’s what your membership gets you:

  • A park wristband that gets you into BBQ Fest without having to pay at the gate Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The wristband gets you access to Tom Lee Park during public park hours: 5:30-10:30 Wednesday, 11 AM-midnight Thursday and Friday, and 10 AM-10 PM Saturday. Some team members will have different wristbands with 24- hour access. These are for the cooks as well as people who stay late and arrive early to clean and carry out other duties.
  • A rubber wristband that identifies you as a team member. That ensures quick entry into the booth during peak hours (7 PM-midnight Thursday and Friday) when we have an off-duty MPD officer working the door. You can also show the rubber wristband to the bartender, giving you priority service. Team members aren’t expected to tip the bartender but we hope that guests will.
  • A team T-shirt. Read on, because I have VERY EXCITING NEWS about this. Closer to BBQ time we will put up a form where you can let us know your T-shirt size.
  • Four paper wristbands each for Thursday and Friday nights, that you can give to guests to give them access to the booth during peak hours. We don’t require wristbands for booth entry Wednesday and Saturday and during non-peak hours Thursday and Friday (open until 7 PM). Again, read on, because I have more to say about this as well. We are changing the door policy for the better.

The booth

Since forming our team in 2012, we have finished in the top three in Best Booth five times, including two first-place finishes. This is great publicity for us because it gives us visibility. People come to see what a winning booth looks like, and of course that is a prime opportunity to get their eyes on our sponsors.

We are gunning for another first in Best Booth. Knowing that dignitaries from honored country the Czech Republic will be in attendance, we have an idea for a booth facade that will be immediately recognizable, and which will be a salute to their history and heritage.

We will have a double-decker structure again this year, so we will have a river view from the upper level even though our booth location is not on the riverside. The configuration of the structure will change this year, because our cook team has a 30-foot air-conditioned kitchen trailer and rig. We have upgraded to a larger space this year so there will be plenty of room for eating, socializing, getting to know our sponsors, and dancing.

Are we still a party team?


The past few years, we have had an emphasis on improvement as a cooking team, one that competes strongly in Shoulder and is in contention for trophies in both our main category and in ancillaries.

However, the cooking/party team thing is not an either/or. It’s an “and.” There will be plenty of dancing. There will be plenty of Jello shots. There will be plenty of spiked gummy worms. And who knows what other creations our team members will come up with… didn’t we have a spiked watermelon one year?

The T-shirts

I mentioned recently that we have a retired professional illustrator doing the design for our team shirt this year, and if you’ve watched any TV in the past 30 years, you’ve seen this person’s work.

Let’s just say we hit a “Homer” when we connected with this illustrator.

How many people can say they own a custom-designed T-shirt by someone who worked as an illustrator for the longest-running TV sitcom in history… The Simpsons? You’ll be able to say that if you’re a member of the Moody Ques.


During his speech yesterday, Kris said he is very open to anyone who would like to help out in the kitchen, and if you have ideas for ancillary competitions, he would love to hear them. Ancillaries are Beef, Poultry, Seafood, Exotic, Tomato Sauce, Mustard Sauce, Vinegar Sauce, and Hot Wings. If you have ideas email us at and we’ll get you in touch with Kris.

I have said for years we should cook a hippopotamus and enter it in Exotic, but no one ever listens to me.

Door/guest entry policy

We have an off-duty MPD officer who works security at the door during peak times, from 7 to midnight Thursday and Friday of BBQ Fest. He does a great job and the booth runs much more smoothly because he is there. Every year we give him guidelines on who should be allowed into the booth and who should not. It’s necessary to have a door policy for several reasons.

  • The fire marshal enforces a capacity on number of people allowed in the booth, and comes by to check. We can be cited if we are above capacity.
  • Furthermore, we need to stay enough below capacity so that team members and sponsors are never denied entry.
  • Every year we have problems with moochers – people who obviously don’t know any team members, but who want to come in and eat and drink for free.

So the past several years, we have told our security officer that people must have a rubber team wristband or a paper guest wristband for that night to be allowed into our booth, during peak hours of 7-midnight Thursday-Friday. That policy, while better than not having one at all, has proved to be less than optimal.

Last year, I witnessed a situation where approximately 30 people were standing outside our booth, begging to be let in. These were people who clearly knew many people on the Moody Ques, who just wanted to come in and stay for maybe 15-20 minutes and see the booth. However, no one could be found who had a guest wristband for them (all of mine were either already given or were spoken for). So they remained on the outside looking in.

This would have made sense if we were near capacity. However, we weren’t. The booth was at maybe – at most – 20% of capacity at the time. The booth looked empty and it was empty. It seemed preposterous to me that we weren’t letting those people in. Number one, many of them would have left money in the tip jar. Number two, we want our booth to look like the place to be in Tom Lee Park, and an empty booth doesn’t do that. And number three and most importantly, we were pissing people off when there just wasn’t any need to do so.

The door is where you get your first impression of the Moody Ques. If it’s a negative one, that hurts our team brand and makes it harder to recruit members and sponsors in future years. It’s a public relations problem. And I’m director of public relations. So I’ve decided to exert influence over the door policy.

Yesterday at the team meeting, I proposed the following amendment to the rule: If the booth is less than 60% capacity, even during peak hours, we won’t require a guest wristband to come in. The team member can just meet their guest at the door and bring them in. So although you get 4 guest wristbands a night, you may be able to get more than 4 people in (just be reasonable about it; don’t invite 30 guests who all plan to come at the same time). When over 60% capacity, yes, enforce the guest wristband rule, to maintain enough space for members and sponsors to be able to get in.

In short, I want to cast a positive vibe at the door, and for our default answer to be “yes” rather than “no.” I am going to keep an eye on the door and if any team member is casting an overly negative vibe, I will ask them to move away.

I know there are people who wanted to join, but would not until this issue was addressed. I hope I have done that adequately. If there are concerns that keep you from paying dues and being part of the team, please talk to me.

More pictures!

Side note: I am banging my head against the wall for not taking my digital camera down there, and instead relying on my iPhone camera. Moving a video from an iPhone to a Windows laptop is like watching paint dry. I started the upload at 7:15 AM. It’s now 9:24 and it’s still only about three-fourths done.

Plans for today: Well, let’s just say that for the second time in 6 days, a new chapter begins. Of course, some things never change: I’ll be drinking PBR all afternoon. Back tomorrow with more news.

Indian lunch buffet strategy and Saturday news

I’ve been thinking about the Indian lunch buffet where I ate Thursday. I made myself a gorgeous plate of food that I was quite happy with, but looking back I don’t think I used the optimal strategy for attacking the buffet. Here’s the strategy I’m going to use the next time I go. Before this week I hadn’t been to an Indian buffet in years, so I welcome feedback if you see any ways I can improve.

First, get a plate and lay down a bed of rice on the whole plate. The first thing you will see after you get your rice are the vegetarian curries. This is a trap. Do not get these. YET. The danger is, these all look so good that there’s a temptation to fill up most of your plate with veggie curries before you get to the meat curries. (Food costs for the veggie curries are generally lower. It’s no accident you get to them first.) Wait for the people in front of you to file past the veggie curries, then when you get to the chicken and lamb curries, load up.

Now go back and get in line a second time. This time, get your choice of vegetarian curries on the space remaining on your plate. Don’t get me wrong, you should leave space for a veggie curry or two. They are outstanding. The spinach curry, the mushroom curry, the lentil curries… all delicious. It’s just that you don’t want them dominating your plate and leaving insufficient room for meat.

Third, go put your plate on the table. Then go get a second plate and get back in line. This second plate is for non-curry items – a piece or two of tandoori chicken, a couple of spinach pakoras, naan, chutneys and chimichurris and other dipping sauces. (If you’re a big dipper you can put the sauces in soup bowls.)

NOTE: Some of you are probably thinking, “Oh my gosh, Paul, what will people think of me if they see me with two plates?” If you’re a “what will people think of me” person you shouldn’t be going to all-you-can-eat lunch buffets. You are not there to leave a good impression. You are there to pig out. Remember, if you order a soft drink and leave a 20% tip you are going to be out 17 bucks for this dining adventure. Might as well get your money’s worth!

Fourth, eat your food. It helps to plan ahead. I recommend not eating dinner the night before or breakfast on the day you go. If you have comfort-waist pants, they would be a good choice. A belt that can be loosened a notch is good too. For inspiration, I recommend making the photo below the wallpaper on your phone and looking at it frequently while you eat.

Fifth, get another plate and go back for dessert. In particular you want to get the gulab jamun. These are soft milky balls covered in rose scented syrup. Actually, cancel the plate and get a soup bowl for these instead. Keeps the syrup in a more confined area. I don’t care how full you are, make room for these. As my friend Tony likes to say, you haven’t lived until you’ve had Indian balls in your mouth.

Again, feedback welcome if you see any ways I can further optimize my Indian buffet strategy. I started a thread on Facebook last Sunday about good spots to eat within a 10-minute driving distance of my office at Poplar and Kirby Parkway, and many people responded. Thank you all – you helped me discover some places I otherwise would not have known about. My top three priorities for next week:

  • Garibaldi’s Pizza – Versuvian Steak Sandwich! When I was in grad school and living near the U of M, this was one of my very favorite things to eat. The location on Yates and the location on Queens Court seem about equal distance from work. Guess I’ll try them both and see which is the easier drive. Wish I could re-live old memories on the Walker Avenue location but it’s out of driving range on a lunch hour.
  • Noodles Asian Bistro – I discovered this one the day of our team lunch next door at Rock ‘n Dough. Never been here but one of my friends on Swarm by Foursquare checks in here a lot. Looking over the menu, I have my eyes on the Korean Spicy Seafood Noodles for my first visit.
  • Cafe Med – they have various types of food but I will be going there for the gyros. Can’t decide whether I’ll get the original gyro or the Jerusalem on my first visit. The Aleppo and the Spartan are on my radar too. This is very convenient for me, right across Kirby in the strip mall next to Bougie Kroger.

As for the new job, I am really enjoying it. It is very much a family type environment and there is zero stress. The project I will be working on is basically a giant math problem, perfect since I am a former math teacher. I can tell I am going to be very happy there. Getting laid off in January is starting to seem like a blessing in disguise.

On to the news…

It’s Family Fun Day at AutoZone Park today from noon to 2. There will be inflatables, games, and activities in the Plaza. Catch and wiffle ball on the field and kids run the bases, chances to win prizes, ticket specials, and ballpark tours. The Cardinals spring training game will be shown on the video board. At the end of the day there will be a candy drop from a helicopter.

Come down to Tom Lee Park tomorrow, Sunday, March 25, for the quarterfinals of the Memphis Riverfront Soccer Cup. Eight adult co-ed teams will be competing in 7-on-7 matches. Action starts at 1 PM.

Cupcakes and Craft Beers returns to Ghost River this Thursday, March 29. Two Girls and a Whip will host their third dinner at the brewery, this one with a Mexican theme. There will be three savory cupcakes and one sweet one, each expertly paired with a beer by the Ghost River brewmaster. The cupcakes:

Street corn cupcake: roasted corn and jalapeño cornbread cake with chipotle cream cheese topped with roasted corn and cotija cheese crumbles

Chicken fajita cupcake: flour tortilla cup filled with marinated chicken, sautéed green peppers and onions, topped with sour cream and fresh pico

Taco pie cupcake: ground beef and refried beans topped with Monterey Jack cheese, a taco sauce and sour cream drizzle, diced tomatoes and cilantro

Mexican hot chocolate cupcake: cinnamon chocolate cake with cinnamon chocolate icing, hot fudge drizzle, topped with a sopapilla

Dinner time is 6 PM, cost is $32, and seats must be reserved in advance. Call 901-472-CAKE to reserve your spot.

Our Yoga Downtown, a free weekly all-levels yoga class, will kick off Tuesday, April 3 in Memphis Park. Charlie Baxter Graham of Downtown Yoga will teach this series on Tuesdays 6-7 PM. The yoga surface is on a grassy area, so bring a mat. Sunscreen and water are also advisable.

But wait, there’s more. There will be another free weekly yoga class at lunchtime, on Thursdays at 11:45 AM, starting Thursday, April 5 in Health Sciences Park. This class will be taught by Bridget Sisney of Downtown Yoga and is also all-levels. YOGA!

There will also be free lunchtime Tai Chi classes in Health Sciences Park on Mondays at 11:45 AM beginning April 2. Downtown Yoga’s Milan Vigil will teach this class, which is suitable even for beginners with no prior experience in this meditational practice.

The Grizzlies game at the New Orleans Pelicans, scheduled for an 8:30 tip-off on ESPN on April 4, has been moved to a 7:00 tip-off and will no longer be broadcast nationally. Apparently NBA teams that lose by 61 points aren’t good for TV ratings.

Live music at brunch at Sunrise Memphis: The Ghost River Band will play there at 11 today, and The Second Line Band at 11 tomorrow.

Innovate Memphis is hiring a project management specialist and a part-time bookkeeper. They also have an RFP out for a consultant to act as a Mobility Manager.

Busy day today. Deputy Director of Public Relations Perjorie T. Roll and I are meeting with BBQ team president John D at 11 at Bardog. Deputy Director Roll has some big ideas that she wants to share. Then at 2 we have the team Meat & Greet down at the south end of Downtown. I’ve got a couple of possible ideas for the team to bring up, and I want to hear about this new sponsor and find out what I can do to promote them.

Back tomorrow with a recap of the Meat & Greet and any Downtown news I have to share.

Friday update

Yesterday, for the first time in 8 years, I was able to get Indian food on a work lunch hour. Horn Lake did not have any Indian restaurants (although it does have a Golden Corral) and there are none Downtown, so I have rarely been able to satisfy my hunger for one of my favorite types of ethnic food. Yesterday, though, I had an easy 2 mile drive from my office at Poplar and Kirby Parkway to the buffet at Mayuri Indian Cuisine on Quince. Look at this gorgeous plate of food!

The only downside is that after adding a Coke, tax and tip, I was out $17.09. I love exploring my new lunch spots but I don’t want to be spending that much every day!

Retailers: Open on Main returns May through October of this year. This is your opportunity to have a pop-up retail shop at a highly visible location in the Downtown core. The locations are 100 Peabody Place Suite 175 (I believe that would be the old Life Is Good location) and 147 S. Main (which I believe is the former Shelton Clothiers). If selected, you get a rent-free lease on one of the locations, large storefront windows, a location near a trolley stop, and access to employee bathrooms.

The speaker lineup has been announced for Ignite Memphis Food at Playhouse on the Square on April 12. Speakers will have 5 minutes each to speak on topics they are passionate about, with slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds. Tickets include beer and lots of food samples.

Felicia Suzanne Restaurant is celebrating its 16th anniversary with complimentary dessert bites for all guests who dine there this weekend.

Major, major respect to Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson. This week he announced a minimum $15/hour salary for all SCS employees. Then he announced that no SCS student or employee will be punished for a planned April 20 orderly walkout to protest gun violence.

Loflin Yard will host Easter Hoppy Hours on Saturday, March 31, the day before Easter. From 11:30 to 8 there will be an Adult Easter Egg Hunt. The eggs will be filled with candy and some will have drink cards. From 3 to 6 there will be an Easter Bunny dog costume contest.

Max’s Sports Bar will have another crawfish cook by Glaze tomorrow with the first batch coming out about noon or 12:30. Crawfish are sold by the pound and come with sides of corn, taters, sausage and mushrooms.

The river has receded enough that the Arkansas side of Big River Crossing is being re-opened today. Watch out for damage to trails across the bridge, though.

A third Maciel’s is coming to the Broad Avenue district but this one won’t be exactly like the other two. It will be a coffee shop/bodega kind of place with Wi-Fi and items like breakfast burritos.

Big weekend coming up for the BBQ team! We have our team Meat & Greet tomorrow, a chance for teammates to get to know one another, sample a competition shoulder, drink some Ghost River beer, and get their questions answered prior to BBQ Fest. We will also have news about a new sponsor, news I will be posting in several locations next week.

You know, it’s interesting talking to other BBQ teams about how they run various aspects of the team. I recently talked to members of two teams who hire professional bartenders to work the busy nights, Thursday and Friday of BBQ Fest.

Team A: “We don’t pay our bartenders anything. They’re there because they want to party with us. They get to eat and drink for free. If we have a really good night we might give ’em 100 out of the tip jar at the end of the night.”

Team B: “We pay our bartender 600 a night.”

Wow. That’s a wide range. However, both of the people I spoke to agree (and I do too) about the concept of the “courtesy 20.” If you’re on a team, and you go and visit another team, even if you only stay long enough to have a plate of food and one beer, you drop a 20 in their tip jar.

Apologies if I am slow to answer emails and texts this weekend from non-BBQ team members.

We have breakfast in the office on Friday mornings, so I’m not hungry enough for a big lunch today. Going to go get a few of those stuffed peppers from the olive bar at Bougie Kroger and that should be enough. Back tomorrow with more news.