Saturday update: Lime scooters invade Downtown, Paul’s Picks for Downtown Dining Week, more

Hey, whoever is doing building construction on Main between Madison and Union – is it REALLY necessary to start hammering at 5:30 on a Saturday morning? It wasn’t loud enough to wake me up, but once I woke up naturally it was loud enough that I couldn’t get back to sleep.

Update on the Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting set for Tuesday the 23rd, with a panel of blues musicians and experts. There is now a venue for this meeting, and it is Pontotoc Lounge at 314 S. Main.

A new scooter company has invaded the streets of Downtown Memphis.

Lime scooters have joined Bird scooters here, but they did not receive the warm welcome from the city that the Birds did.

Like the Birds, Limes cost $1 plus 15 cents a minute to ride. Read more about the situation with the Limes at the MBJ.

If you like to collect pint glasses from great local breweries, get thee to the Flying Saucer next Wednesday, October 24 at 7 PM. The featured glass will be Memphis Made Brewing Co. Memphis Made on several taps and the brewers will be there to talk about beer.

The Memphis Express, Memphis’ new pro football team that will be competing in the Alliance for American Football, has chosen a Downtown Memphis address for its headquarters. They’ll rent part of the third floor of the 88 Union building. The Express’ season kicks off February 9 at the Liberty Bowl.

OKC-based nine-piece rock band Matthew Stansberry & the Romance plays the Halloran Centre tonight at 7:30.

Next door at the Orpheum, multi-platinum Irish group Celtic Thunder takes the stage this evening. The band is known for authentic Irish instruments, as well as dramatic effects through lighting and choreography.

There was a convention of dog trainers at the Cook Convention Center this week.

Miss Cordelia’s Grocery is now Cordelia’s Market with a new look, new selections, and lower prices. Don’t forget that their fall festival is noon to 6 today.

The Downtown Memphis Commission has rescheduled its Vision Awards, along with a revised program that will honor Phil Trenary.

With over 50 vendors, the Beale Street Art Crawl happens today.

Cirque de la Symphonie comes to the Cannon Center tonight, performing scores from your favorite movies.

The Mid-South Great Steak Cook-Off happens over at Southland today. I hear this is a good place to get samples.

There was no winning ticket in Mega Millions last night, inflating the jackpot to $1.6 billion.

About half the participating restaurant menus have now been posted for Downtown Dining Week, and I want to do my first round of “Paul’s Picks” for the best menus and values. Why do I do this? 40 menus are a lot to dig through. I want to help my readers weed out the places that have DDW menus like this:

November 5-11, 2018

FIRST COURSE: Your choice of
Our Cheapest Soup
Our Cheapest Salad

SECOND COURSE: Your choice of
Uninteresting Chicken Dish
Unimaginative Fish Dish

Dessert that Would Be Edible if it Wasn’t Frozen Solid

This three-course dinner, about a $15 value, yours for the low price of $20.18

Do not fret, however. There are plenty of Downtown Dining Week restaurants that don’t just go through the motions. They put their best foot (and best food) forward, knowing people who might not otherwise come through the door will go there for DDW. It’s an opportunity to convert one-timers (or zero-timers, if not for DDW) into happy, regular customers who tell others about the restaurant. Of the menus that have been posted so far, these are among the best I’ve seen.

Automatic Slim’s – You have choices, but I personally would go for the Cajun crawfish dip with wonton chips, the smoked beef tenderloin, and the homemade dessert of the day.

Brass Door – All of the appetizer and entree choices sound good. I would have trouble picking here. Based on my knowledge of the menu, the appetizer and entree prices add up to about $20 so it’s like you’re getting a free dessert. I especially recommend this place if you like soccer.

Carolina Watershed – $10.18 for a lunch for Cornish hen, collard greens, and Delta grits. This is a really neat space, based on silos, for those of you who have never been in there.

Felicia Suzanne’s – Personally, I’d get the crispy oysters with New Orleans BBQ sauce, the Sunday Sugo, and the chocolate bread pudding, but you can’t go wrong with anything on this menu. You do you. TWO NOTES: 1) This place will probably fill up the fastest with reservations of any Downtown Dining Week restaurant. If you want to reserve a table there, do not delay. 2) They will be open every day for dinner as well as Friday lunch, with the $20.18 dinner menu available. I seriously doubt they will be doing their 25 cent martinis for lunch the Friday of DDW.

Regina’s Cajun Kitchen – A three-course Cajun lunch menu that seems like it would be a good value for $20.18, but it’s not – it’s for the lunch price of $10.18.

South of Beale – This would be the place to go if you have a vegetarian in your group. General Tso’s Cauliflower, a Zaka Bowl, and choice of dessert. They have salmon and steak options for meat-eaters. Man, I’d be all over that peanut butter banana pudding.

Westy’s – Bring a friend for lunch. For $10.18 you get TWO of a catfish basket, a patty melt, or a marinated chicken sandwich, each of which comes with fries or tots. They also offer a $20.18 three-course dinner: 1 appetizer and 1 dessert to share, and 2 entrees. The Hot Fudge Pie is one of Memphis’ most famous dishes.

Well, my plans for today have changed and then changed again. My original plan was to lead off at Bardog as usual, but I found out my regular bartender Bloom won’t be there today.

So, with only two Farmers Markets left, I decided to make it a Market and Max’s Sports Bar day. I figured I’d check out the produce, then go watch a woman act all offended when I had the gall to look at the TV she was sitting under (act being the key word). I could also do other extremely offensive things like get up and walk to the restroom, or say “bye” to her when she leaves.

But then yesterday, my friend Mary told me she and her boyfriend Alex are teaming up behind the bar for the first time at Blind Bear brunch. That’s going to be a lot of fun. So the Market and Max’s are pushed back a week, and Bear it is.

Outta here for now. Back tomorrow with more news.

Voting problems, provisional ballots, and Friday news

I was one of the people who early voted yesterday and ran into problems. After Twitter conversations with Bruce VanWyngarden of the Flyer and a lawyer who specializes in election law, I figured it would be a good idea to tell my story here. Let me make it clear, I am not trying to bash the Election Commission – well, I will a little about one specific thing – but mostly, I am just here to tell the story of what happened yesterday and let my readers draw their own conclusions.

For those of you just here to read the Friday news, scroll past the picture of the troll below. I have some good stuff today.

I registered to vote online the first week of October, probably October 2 give or take a day. The registration deadline was October 9, four weeks before the November 6 general election. I understand why they cut off registration when they do – they need those four weeks to make sure everyone’s registrations are in order. With early voting starting on October 17, I wondered, will all the registrations be in place by then? When I went to vote yesterday (Thursday, October 18, the second day of early voting), I was aware I might have to fill out a provisional ballot, especially after I checked my mail and did not find a voter registration card. I decided to allow myself a little extra time. Good thing I did.

I got to Calvary Episcopal, the Downtown early voting location, about 10:20 AM (unlike most early voting sites, they are open weekdays 9-5). I went to the first table where the lady put my driver’s license on a scanner. After a minute told me, “It can’t find you in the system. When did you register?”

“I think it was the last week of September,” I replied. It took me until I got to the next poll worker to remember it was later than that.

“We’re going to have to look you up,” she said, directing me to a man sitting at a table in the back. “This is Paul Ryburn,” she said. “He’s not in the system and his registration needs to be looked up.”

“Ryburn?” he said. “R-Y?” He flipped through a very thick binder filled with sheets of people’s names and addresses. “No, you’re not in here either. I’m going to have to call in and check on your registration. When did you register?”

“Last week of September… actually, I think it was the first week of October,” I told him. He asked for my date of birth and I gave him that too. He picked up a phone with “CALVARY” taped to the back and called a number.

After a couple of minutes on hold, he said, “This is ____ at Calvary. I have a voter who says he registered online the first week of October, but he’s not in the system or in the voter list. First name Paul, last name R-Y-B as in boy,-U-R-N. Date of birth __-__-____.”

He waited for a minute, then said, “Okay, thanks,” and hung up. “You’re not in their system yet either,” he said. “Where did you register to vote? What it online through the DMV?”

“No, not through the DMV,” I replied. “It was just the standard Tennessee online registration form. It wasn’t through any particular candidate.”

“Okay, I think I know what happened,” the poll worker told me. “Online registration is a new thing and I am not claiming to be an expert in it. But I know a massive amount of people registered right before the deadline. All that information has to be re-entered by poll workers, and there was so much of it that they are probably overwhelmed and playing catch-up. So your registration probably hasn’t been processed into the system yet.”

I nodded my head but inside I was seething a little. Let me get this straight, voters input all the needed data at the time they register online, and then poll workers have to turn around and RE-ENTER that same information, even though it’s already there? Well, if that ain’t government at its finest. I understand certain things have to be verified, but why the need to re-enter data like my first name and address when the data I entered could just be re-used? Maybe it’s to prevent hackers from cross-script attacking the registration form and gaining access to the voter rolls, but there are much better ways to prevent that than re-entering everything.

The poll worker took me over to a table. “What we’re going to have to do is have you vote provisionally, on a paper ballot,” Most of the people there were voting on machines. “I’m going to go look up your precinct number and slice,” he told me. No idea what a slice is, and I didn’t ask. “While I’m getting you the correct ballot, you can be filling out this paperwork.” He handed me a manila-colored mail-in voter registration form and a green envelope. I started filling them out with a black pen he gave me. Oddly, the mail-in registration form did not ask for my driver’s license number, whereas the online registration had. The green envelope asked me to affirm that I was (name) living at (address) voting in the November election.

The poll worker came back with a paper ballot. “In a minute I’m going to step away so you have some privacy to vote,” he said. “But first I’m going to explain to you what will happen. About two weeks after November 6, you will receive a letter from the state, after they’ve had time to confirm your registration. It will say either, we found you and your vote counted, or we couldn’t find you and your vote didn’t count. From what you’ve told me here today, most likely the letter will say your vote counted.”

He backed away and I filled out the ballot. Like standardized tests in school, I had to completely fill in the bubble next to my desired candidate’s name. However, I could do it with a blue or black pen, rather than being restricted to Number 2 pencil. I voted in the governor’s, senator’s, representative, state senator’s, and state representative races, as well as the three amendments on the ballot. It was not a hard ballot to fill out.

By the way – I saw on Twitter that for some people, Republican Bill Lee’s name appeared at the top of the 20 gubernatorial candidates, and Democrat Karl Dean’s name appeared at the bottom. That was not the case on my ballot. The candidates were divided into two columns, Lee’s name at the top of the left and Dean’s at the top of the right.

I indicated to the poll worker that my ballot was complete. “Okay,” he said, “What I want you to do is fold your ballot up and put it in the green envelope. Then I want you to seal the green envelope, and don’t tear anything off. If you tear it off we have to do it over again. Once your envelope is sealed, we are going to put it in an old-fashioned paper ballot box. It is very important that you put it in the envelope and seal it, and you put it in the ballot box yourself. If I do those things for you, someone might claim that I tried to influence or change your vote.” I understood. He was doing things by the book. I sealed the envelope. I was the first one to use a paper ballot at that location that day, so the poll worker had to cut off a plastic zip-tie on the ballot box, revealing the slot into which I put the envelope.

“On Election Day, a Republican poll worker along with a Democrat poll worker will open this box,” I was told. “They will go through all the paper provisional ballots and verify registration.”

“Sounds good, thanks for all your help getting this done,” I told the poll worker. “Am I finished?”

“You’re done,” he said. I walked to the room’s doorway, where a lady handed me an “I voted” sticker in the shape of the state of Tennessee. I failed to notice the “Exit” sign and turned the wrong way, and ended up exploring the halls of Calvary Episcopal for a minute or two before a custodian told me how to get to the exit.

It was a good thing I went the wrong way and took an extra minute to get out, because as I exited outside into the cool morning air, I heard “Sir!” behind me. It was a lady who was one of the poll workers that day. “We need to get one more signature from you.” I went back inside. Because I had been taken to the back table to figure out my registration, I had bypassed the second table, where I needed to sign “the book.” No biggie, just had to print my name and then sign my name. Now I was officially done. I was out of there at 10:57, perfect because I would be walking through Court Square on my way home. The Thursday food truck rodeo was about to begin and I brought some nachos from Moe’s back to the apartment.

That’s what happened as best I can recollect it. The poll workers were extremely courteous and helpful and I believed they did the very best job they could. I’m also not here to bash the Election Commission, although others have on Twitter – I just want to share my experience and let my readers decide for themselves.

I also want to point out that I am a middle-aged, heterosexual white male who grew up in the Episcopal church. I am not a member of any minority. There has been some talk that those whose registrations did not make it into the system were disproportionately minorities. I can’t speak to that, but I am proof they weren’t all minorities. I checked “Race: White” and “Gender:M” on my online registration application.

That’s my story. The one piece of advice I have to my readers is, if you run into problems similar to mine, by all means ask to fill out a provisional ballot. Do so even if the poll workers tell you they do not think your vote will count. Give your voice every possible chance to be heard. This election is too important to give up because of a few difficulties.

I have a feeling this post will be shared and tweeted. For first-time readers, welcome to my little corner of the Internet. I live in Downtown Memphis, and I try to post every day sharing news and information in which Downtowners would be interested. If you want to check out what a normal post for me looks like, scroll past the troll (she’s kind of become this blog’s mascot) and check out the Friday news.

Residence Inn at Main and Monroe has spread some painted #901Rocks around Downtown. Be the first to find a rock, take a photo of it, and tag @ResidenceInnMem on Twitter, and receive a $25 gift card to the Starbucks on the ground floor of the hotel. (Really, I would imagine the gift card is good for any Starbucks location)

A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper comes to the Orpheum tonight. The legend of shock-rock brings horror themes to the stage this evening, just in time for Halloween season.

Good Gourd! is the theme at the Memphis Farmers Market this Saturday. Grab some ornamental gourds to pretty up your home just in time for autumn. Also, grab some edible gourds including pumpkins, winter squash, butternuts, and acorns. The Cossitt Library and Kids’ Corral, running at the Market from 9:30 to 1:00, will introduce your kids to the wonders of the library. Live local music all day long. The Market runs this Saturday and next under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson, 8 AM to 1 PM.

The Memphis Flyer has a look at Wonder/Cowork/Create, the coworking space for artists and creative types on Monroe Avenue in The Edge.

Evan Farris and Kitty Dearing will perform at the Civil Pour, the bar inside the 409 S. Main food hall, next Thursday, October 25 from 7 to 9 PM.

Carrie Underwood brings The City Pretty Tour 360 to FedExForum on October 23. Maddie and Tae will open.

The 4th annual Memphis Smoke happens at The Tinder Box, 346 S. Main, tomorrow from 1 to 6 PM. Cigar lovers, this is a day for you. Live music from IHeartMemphis, BBQ from Vanelli’s Deli, swag, games, and full bar. Most importantly for smokers, though, 20 cigar vendors will be on hand and there will be huge cigar specials.

The Grizzlies have announced festivities for tonight’s home opener. Evvie McKinney will perform the national anthem. Before the game Triggarman, DJ Spanish Fly and Young Dolph will perform. Rev. John Wilkins, John Paul Keith and Project Pat will perform at halftime.

The Silly Goose Hallows’ Eve Ball has been announced for the night of October 31. They normally do their Halloween party the Saturday before, but a lot of people had scheduling conflicts, so they’re doing it the night of this year. Note that Bardog, three blocks away, also does their party the night of, so it would be easy to do both.

Oh, a note about the Bardog party: You don’t have to be present at 11:59 PM on Halloween to win the raffle for the hearse parked outside, but if you have raffle tickets, make sure your phone’s ringer is on and you’re awake (or at least not so dead asleep that you don’t hear the phone ring).

Back to Silly Goose for a minute… the night after Halloween, November 1, they will have Paint & Get Lit with David Yancy III. Ticket purchase price includes paint, canvas, and instruction. For those who want to eat while they paint, Wok’n in Memphis will have a three-course Chinese dinner available for order.

117 Prime is hiring hostesses. Stop by in person to apply.

If you’re a fan of the blues, you’ll want to attend the Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting on Tuesday, October 23. Instead of one featured speaker they’ll have a Blues Panel. Barbara Newman, president and CEO of the Blues Foundation, will be the moderator. Panel will include Barbara Blue, Reba Russell, John Nemeth, Gracie Curran, and Matt Isbell. Also at the meeting, nominations will be presented for the 2019 DNA board and voting will occur. There will be light snacks and a cash bar. 6 PM social, 6:30 program. Free for members, $10 for guests – but they love guests, and if your guest joins at the meeting, your drink is on DNA. The location is “TBA” as of yet but when I get word of the actual meeting place, I will post it here.

If you get a chance to go buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket this afternoon, you might want to… officials say the jackpot has hit $1 billion for tonight’s drawing.

Here’s an interesting site to read as the World Series approaches: The Physics of Baseball

Very excited to hear that the NBA G-League is offering a professional path to elite high school players/18-year-old players. As an alternative to one-and-done in college, elite players will be offered a one-year, $125,000 contract to play for a G-League team (regular G-League team members not affiliated with an NBA team earn $35,000 a year). After that year is up, they are not eligible for the contract to be renewed and they go straight into the NBA draft. Think about some of the advantages:

  • Players who see college as a waste of a year of their lives will have someplace else to show off their skills while developing as players. Also, players who have mad skills on the court but who are not academically ready for college won’t have to do things to get college eligible (think Derrick Rose here).
  • Let’s be perfectly honest… $125,000 is about what elite players get paid to attend certain colleges as one-and-dones. Now they have a way to still make that money – not even close to what they’ll make in the NBA, but enough to be life-changing for an 18-year-old from a poor neighborhood. At least it’s enough to help parents with bills and purchase a decent vehicle. And, they get that $125K legit, rather than through a shady network of apparel reps, AAU coaches, agents, and college assistant coaches.
  • Free from the NCAA’s stupid amateurism rules, players will be free to hire agents, as well as profit from their names and likenesses. Actually this is the way elite players could get paid far in excess of $125K total for their 18-19 year old year.
  • They’d get coaching not only to develop them as players, but life coaching that will benefit them when they make it to the NBA. Advice like
    • Hire a personal chef (probably can’t do this on $125K, but keep it in mind for when you make NBA money) who will plan a diet that will give you maximum power and energy on the court
    • Develop a regular sleep schedule and keep to it, especially during the NBA season
    • Don’t let an entourage form around you, people who want to live in the glow of your stardom and spend all your money
    • Find a professional wealth manager who is experienced managing the portfolios of clients with 7- and 8-figure net worth, and don’t think that you or your entourage (which you shouldn’t have anyway) knows better than he or she does
    • Remember that everything you say or do in a public forum – whether on the microphone or social media – is a reflection on your team

What will this do to elite college recruiting? Remains to be seen, but I predict some will prefer the professional route and others will prefer the traditional college route. Grizz rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. said he would still go the college route had he been offered the choice.

I don’t think this will hurt Memphis Tigers recruiting much. The Tigers have an NBA All-Star as a head coach, and an assistant coach with two NBA championship rings. Prospective players are likely to think, “These guys are going to know more about getting me to the NBA than the people in the G-League possibly could.” Players who take the fast money over an education from Penny and Mike Miller are probably ones we wouldn’t want playing for the Tigers anyway.

Y’know, it would be interesting to poll some of the most well-known players from the Pastner years, and ask them, if the option had been available, would they have gone the professional route? Players like Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Shaq Goodwin, Tarik Black, Will Barton, Antonio Barton.

I wonder what John Calipari thinks about all this? If the professional path had existed in the last decade, Cal might’ve missed out on a Boogie Cousins, or a John Wall, or an Anthony Davis, or a Karl-Anthony Towns… or if you go back a little farther, a Derrick Rose or a Tyreke Evans.

All right, I’ve blabbered on long enough in this super long post. Going to hit Publish now and I plan to be back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

The Blind Bear posted photos of their new lunch menu. Here’s a look (click for a larger size):

This is a great option for those of you at AutoZone and ServiceMaster, as well as other offices nearby. The Bear offers the lunch menu 11-3 weekdays and then happy hour is 3-7 weekdays. They have brunch Saturday and Sunday 11-6.

St. Jude Blood Donation Center is in desperate need of platelets. Donating platelets is equivalent to donating hundreds of dollars to the children’s hospital because of the money it saves.

Celtic Woman returns to the Orpheum Saturday, April 20 with The Ancient Land Tour. Tickets go on sale next Wednesday.

Evelyn and Olive invites you to join them for Jerk chicken & Festival tonight 6-8:30 “while you watch the game.” Not exactly sure that that means but the price is “only $3.5” so it’s worth exploring.

Jeremy Stanfill and Josh Cosby play Carolina Watershed Saturday at 6:30.

Boos & Brews 2018, on the night of Saturday, October 27, will be a Downtown Halloween bar crawl to raise money and awareness for the Ronald McDonald House. Participants will meet at 8 PM that night at The Vault on G.E. Patterson, and will crawl to stops including South Main Sushi, The Green Beetle, Pontotoc Lounge, Silly Goose, and Bardog Tavern. Prizes for the best male, female, and group/couple costumes. Tickets are $15 in advance//$20 at the door and get you free cover at all event locations as well as drink specials.

John Paul Keith plays Blind Bear tomorrow night, 10 PM.

San Marcos, Texas-based band Blue October plays the New Daisy tonight. Doors open at 7.

This weekend is the annual Repair Days at the Metal Museum. 200 volunteer metalsmiths from all over the country come in to repair metalworks brought in by the public.

All right, going to cut this post short because it’s time to go VOTE! I’m going to walk up the street to Calvary Episcopal which is one of the early polling locations. If more news comes in I’ll do a second update later today. Otherwise I will be back tomorrow.

Wednesday update

The Daily Memphian reports that manager Stubby Clapp’s chances of returning to the Redbirds are growing slimmer. His name has come up in discussions of a third-base coach with the Cardinals. He is also being talked about as a potential manager for the Texas Rangers.

Chandler Parsons has purchased 1000 tickets to the Grizzlies home opener Friday night. He’ll hand them out in the lobby of FedExForum tomorrow at 2 PM. Limit 2 per person.

Anita Baker brings her farewell tour to the Orpheum Wednesday, November 21, and tickets are now on sale.

The Flyer reports that Huey’s will be serving a vegan burger in the coming weeks.

Early voting starts today. Here’s a list of early voting locations. Downtowners, Calvary Episcopal will have early voting 9 AM to 5 PM weekdays. Address is 102 N. Second but you enter from the B.B. King side.

As your #1 source of news and information about The Edge District, it’s my pleasure to inform you that the Edge District Association meeting happens tonight at Evelyn & Olive, 630 Madison, at 6. Come meet owners Caroline and Wayne and try their delicious Jamaican and Southern fusion food. Guest speaker Richard Vining will give an update on the auto museum soon to open in The Edge. Residents and business owners as well as fans and friends of The Edge are invited.

The Memphis Grizzlies 2018-19 media guide is now available. Historical data, player and staff bios, and more.

There’s a new Jim Beam out that is aged in old hot sauce barrels. I was told yesterday that Belle Tavern and Local have it.

Ghost River is hosting a Here for the Boos party Halloween night 4-11 PM. Flight Night 4-7, Eddy’s Pepper food truck, Flying Vs play at 9, spooky trivia at 7, prizes for best costumes, and they’ll be tapping a special chocolate brew.

Catherine & Mary’s is once again hiring:

Paula & Raiford’s will host its annual Disco Halloween Party Saturday, October 27 from 10 PM to 3 AM.

The NBA regular season has begun and the Indiana Pacers host the Memphis Grizzlies tonight at 6 PM. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southeast.

By the way, here’s a suggestion for bar owners and managers: Make a list of the channel numbers for the HD versions of channels on which sports are commonly shown, and tape it near your register for easy access by your bartenders. That way, when someone requests to watch a particular game, if they know what channel it’s on, your bartender won’t have to spend 10 minutes searching through the channel guide.

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

Tuesday update: News and first impressions of River Rat Rounders poker

When the Winter Olympics were on TV earlier this year, there was one sport that kept my eyes glued to the TV: curling. It’s like shuffleboard on ice, basically, with teams of four sweeping heavy stones to get as close to a target (the “house”) as possible, and trying to knock their opponent’s stones away from the target. At first glance I thought curling was stupid, but after watching a match or two, I began to realize what a cerebral sport it is, how much it relies on critical thinking, planning and strategy.

So, yesterday as I was waiting for poker to start at the Silly Goose, I learned that there’s a place in the Mid-South that offers curling. It’s a bit of a drive from Downtown though. The place is called Mid-South Ice House and it’s out in Olive Branch. They have beginner classes for those without experience in the sport. They also have curling leagues, as well as corporate events. Very cool… or actually, very cold, since you play on a sheet of ice.

Cordelia’s Market Fall Festival and Grand Re-opening will happen this Saturday, October 20, from noon to 6 PM. This will be a fall festival to celebrate the market’s recent remodeling as well as its 20th anniversary. Free food and drinks, live music, pumpkin patch, bobbing for apples, cornhole, many vendors onsite, and more.

My BBQ teammate Mike wanted me to let my readers know that a unique apartment is about to come available in the South Main District. He and his wife have lived in an apartment at 509 S. Main for the past five years, and in fact love the place so much that they got married there. It’s on the second floor of the row of buildings above Bluff City Coffee and Downtown Yoga. The building was originally a warehouse built in 1910, and still has the brickwork, hardwood floors, and industrial skylight. It’s a two-bedroom unit, huge master suite with bath in-suite and walk-in closet. The second bedroom is loft-style, also huge, with a walk-in closet. There is a second bathroom, laundry suite, and you get two parking spaces in the gated parking lot next to Bluff City Coffee. Mike says this would be ideal for a single person or couple who can use the second bedroom as an additional living space, which is what he and his wife did. The unit will be available mid-November and is managed by Phil Woodard Properties.

The Community Alliance for the Homeless is looking to hire a Coordinated Entry Facilitator.

The Daily Memphian has a great article about the $34 million homeless shelter being built by the Union Mission at 383 Poplar, replacing its outdated facilities. The new shelter will be known as “The Opportunity Center.” “If Jesus was our guest, how would we serve him?” asked the Mission’s executive director, with the intent of serving their homeless guests the same way.

In the remainder of this post, I want to give my first impressions of Texas Hold’em with the River Rat Rounders poker league, based on the game I attended last night at the Silly Goose. Technically this is not a “first” impression, because I did play a RRR league game at the Mad Earl. However, that was over four years ago and I have not played in the league since, so last night was very much a new experience to me.

First of all, a little background about me: I have been playing bar poker since it came to Downtown Memphis in 2010. At the time I was playing online on PokerStars for real money, and was starting to figure the nuances of the game out: things like position, bet sizing relative to the pot, being aware of your chip stack size relative to the big blind, pot odds, that kind of thing. I’m not claiming to be the best player at the Downtown bars, but I got good enough to win now and then. I won some sweet Grizzlies tickets at a Bardog game. I won the Silly Goose game multiple times, going heads-up with some of the players I respect the most. I won multiple Thursday Buzztime poker games at Max’s Sports Bar. I’m a two-time final table champion at Blind Bear.

Around the beginning of 2015, I lost my interest in bar poker. There were several reasons why, but let me explain the main one. In Tennessee, if you run a poker game in a bar there cannot be a cash buy-in. It has to be free to play for all, by law. What you can do, however, is offer incentives to purchase the bar’s products. You can offer add-ons – extra chips – for purchasing particular drinks and/or menu items. Also, if someone goes all-in and loses all their chips, getting knocked out of the game, they can rebuy (get more chips and get back in) by purchasing items the bar offers.

The thing for me is, I play poker because it’s a game where you never stop learning. It’s a game where you can get better with every hand you play. It truly is a mind sport. However, by about 2015 it seemed that a player’s results at the Downtown bar poker games had more to do with how many shots of Fireball they ordered than their skill as a poker player.

I’ll give you an example: A player looks at his hand and sees 9-3 offsuit, and decides to go all-in for his stack of 50 big blinds. By conventional poker strategy, that’s a really stupid move. 9-3 is one of the worst starting hands at Texas Hold’em, and going all-in pre-flop eliminates the strategy of betting the flop, turn, and river. However, their logic is, “Well, if I lose I can pay $8 for two Fireballs and get back in.” Most of the time they lose, most of the time they’re buying shots – but 9-3 is 40% against a random hand (I have a poker calculator on my iPad in case you’re wondering how I know that), so if they rebuy often enough, they’re likely to outlast someone who plays proper poker strategy and tries to avoid getting wiped out and rebuying. They run up a $40 tab trying to win a $50 first-place gift card, which is a pretty horrible expected value, but they don’t care. They also don’t care that they ruin the game for those of us who want to play real poker. In fact, I think some of them enjoy ruining the game.

Recently, though, I have heard from friends who play in the River Rat Rounders games that the kind of chaotic betting, the high-variance poker I just described, does not exist in their games. People play real poker. When the Silly Goose announced it was converting to the River Rat Rounders league, I decided to give bar poker a second chance.

The game was at 8 PM but I got to the Goose early… way early. My plans for yesterday were to drive out east because I needed to do some shopping at Best Buy and Target, but it looked like it was going to rain on and off throughout the day, and I prefer not to drive in the rain. So I postponed my trip until Wednesday (there’s a chance of rain today too). That left me free to hit the Goose, which is my normal Monday happy hour spot anyway, a little bit after it opened at 2 PM. I stuck around until poker started.

Teresa, the league owner, was hosting the game along with her co-host Mike Tucker. They got there about 7 and started setting up the felt overlays.

The Goose game under the River Rat Rounders retained the previous prize structure: $50 gift card for first place, $25 for second. However, players also earn points toward the River Rat league. Every three months or so, top point earners are invited to play in a Tournament of Champions freeroll tournament with a total of $1000 in prize money. The winner of the tournament gets an additional prize, a seat at an event in Tunica when the World Series of Poker comes to town on tour. As an additional incentive, one player at last night’s game would win immediate entry into the Tournament of Champions freeroll: the player who knocked Muruako, who was the Silly Goose poker host for years, out of the game.

About 7:50 Teresa told me, “Are you playing, Paul? We do check-ins online.” I had downloaded the River Rat Rounders app the day before, and Teresa showed me how to check in. The app remembered my RRR player number from when I played at the Mad Earl years ago. No clipboards to pass around, no illegible names for the poker hosts to try and decipher. Very well organized.

“How many PBRs have you had, Paul?” Teresa and Tucker then asked me. “You get extra chips for every one you’ve ordered.”

“Well, the thing is, I’ve been here since 2,” I told them, not expecting to get chips for beers I drank hours before poker began. Teresa said it didn’t matter. I had been drinking slow, wanting to conserve my wits for poker, but still, one beer an hour added up to six beers. Tucker handed me 6 bonuses, giving me a monster starting stack.

The felt poker-table overlays seat 8, although you can squeeze 10 in if it gets busy. The four seats in the middle are for people who don’t mind being dealers. Rather than the deal being passed around, the four middle seats alternate the deal. In addition to handing out the cards, dealers are responsible for managing the pot, making change for large chip denominations, and handling things like dead dealer buttons and dead small blinds. By having multiple dedicated dealers, you can get more hands played per blind level. Dealers get extra chips for their effort. I chose a corner seat, not wanting the additional mental effort of being a dealer. I wanted to be free to observe my fellow players and their tendencies.

The starting stacks, not counting any bonus chips, were 8000. The first five blind levels were 100/100, 100/200, 200/400, 300/600, 400/800, and 500/1000. I like it that the blinds went up slowly, rather than doubling every level. More time to play deep-stack strategy and accumulate chips.

The players were a mix of league regulars who came from other parts of the city, probably people who play league games every night; and holdovers from the Monday night Silly Goose poker game. I noticed that the Silly Goose players who bet chaotically – the 9-3 all-in specialists – were not there. Not sure if that was a coincidence or if they knew their style of play would not be tolerated.

I picked up some small pots at the first two levels. It was 300/600 when I played my first major hand. With a couple of people who called the big blind ahead of me, I was on the dealer button. I looked down and found a pocket pair, 5-5. I raised to 2000. Small pocket pairs don’t play well against multiple opponents after the flop, so I hoped to chase at least one of my opponents away. They both called though.

Flop was three overcards to my Fives, I don’t remember what, an Ace, a picture card, and a medium card, I think. Both opponents checked to me. They either missed the flop, or they wanted to see what I would do before making their decision, since I took the initiative in the initial round of betting. Their checks told me my Fives were probably the best hand at the moment – but, I knew there was almost no chance they would still be the best hand by the river. I bet about two-thirds the size of the pot. My pre-and post-flop betting looked a lot more like a big hand than two Fives.

My bet worked. Both opponents folded. At the bar poker games I am used to, multiple opponents would have called my bets all the way to the river, where one of them would have sucked out a card to beat me and win a huge amount of my chips. I felt like I was playing real poker strategy in a bar for the first time in years!

More people came in – they allowed late entries until 9:35 – and Tucker broke us up into two tables. That put me at a different table than Muruako, putting my plan to eliminate him and get into that $1000 freeroll on hold.

The new table brought me luck. After a few hands, I found myself holding Q-Q pre-flop. I raised the big blind and got a couple of callers. This time I was out of position, meaning I would be first to act on the flop, turn and river.

The flop came something like low card-Queen-medium card. I had a “set,” a three-of-a-kind where two of my three are hidden. It’s a great spot because my hand was well disguised. Being out of position, I decided to further disguise my hand by just checking the flop. My one remaining opponent bet 500. I decided that now was the time that I should project the image of a bar poker doofus who’ll call all the way to the river with nothing. I meekly called his 500.

When the turn card came, again I checked to him. He bet 1000. Again I meekly called.

I checked a third time on the river card and my opponent bet 2000. This time I had a surprise for him. I raised to 5000. He thought for a minute and folded. Teresa told me that was one of the few times she’d ever seen another player make him fold.

Anyway, I’m sharing these two hands with you not to brag or gloat, but to share the thrill I experienced of playing actual poker strategy, and having it work, for the first time in a bar in years! I felt like I was learning with each and every hand, that I was getting better. I felt like, if I get to the point of winning one of those WSOP tour seats, my experience with the River Rats will prepare me well to make it into the prize money. (As a side note, at least one RRR member cashed in every WSOP tour event held in Tunica in 2018.)

Kudos to Tucker on keeping all the players supplied with drinks, and also with the bonus chips they got for ordering those drinks. Also, thanks to Tucker for noticing that at one point, I knocked my good luck charm Perjorie T. Roll off the felt overlay and down to the floor. He picked her up and handed her back to me. I know there are some people Downtown who would be very sad if I lost my troll.

Old Dominick brought a bag full of swag by, and there some very nice T-shirts. Teresa told us we could go pick one out if we bought two specialty cocktails made with Old Dominick. I don’t know if “beer before liquor, never sicker” is true, but experience has taught me that “beer before liquor, your poker game goes to hell in a handbasket” sure is. I decided I didn’t need another T-shirt that bad.

Unfortunately about 9:45 I received a text that my presence was requested down the street, that it would be nice if I could be there for a friend. My luck at the table was starting to turn bad anyway, so I donked off my remaining chips – went all-in for 4 1/2 big blinds with 9-8 offsuit, not a terrible move but not ideal – and got out of the game. Teresa told me there was a second-chance turbo at 10, but I explained to her why I needed to go.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience playing in a River Rat Rounders game, and it has re-ignited my enthusiasm for  bar poker games. I plan on being back next Monday, and Mondays after that as well.

If you want to give the RRR games a try, check out their schedule. There are games to play 7 days a week. Downtown games include

  • Mondays – Silly Goose – 8:00 main game, 10:05 turbo
  • Tuesdays – Green Beetle – 6:30 main game, 8:35 turbo
  • Saturdays – Club 152 – this is a once-a-month game

Oh – by the way – in case you’re wondering who knocked Muruako out and got the entry into the Tournament of Champions freeroll – no one did. Muruako won last night’s main game.

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


Monday update

We had a Sunday brunch quote of the day yesterday when a couple of friends showed up at Pontotoc Lounge, having just got done having brunch in the suburbs. We asked them how it was.

“The mimosas got better after they ran out of orange juice,” was their reply.

A holiday market is coming to South Main. On November’s Trolley Night, Friday, November 30, South Main Street will be lined with vendors selling hand-made art, crafts, fashion, gifts, jewelry, photography, and more. Want to become a vendor for the holiday market? There will be an application on the South Main website later this week.

More Trolley Night news… you may remember that The State of Downtown and Downtown Vision Awards, set for October 3 on the Civic Center Plaza, were rescheduled. A new date and location has been announced: The third floor of 409 S. Main on Friday, October 26, the night of October South Main Trolley Night. Welcome reception at 4:00, Vision Awards at 5:15, and the program will be over by 6:45 so everyone can enjoy Trolley Night.

In a preseason coaches’ poll, the Memphis Tigers were picked to finish fourth in the American Athletic Conference behind UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. Memphis even got one first-place vote.

Halloween at Mollie Fontaine Lounge will happen October 31 from 8 PM to 3 AM. This tends to be one of Downtown best and spookiest Halloween parties. $10 cover, with either cash or credit card accepted.

For those of you who work at AutoZone, ServiceMaster, or other businesses in that area, you have a convenient new lunch option beginning tomorrow. Blind Bear will begin opening for lunch at 11 AM Tuesday, October 16. Jeannette showed me the menu yesterday. I’m pleased to see they’re offering half orders of two of their most popular dishes, Hibernation Fries and Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese. They’ll have a half-sandwich and cup of soup option, a veggie plate, Bear Balls, burgers and sandwiches, and more.

Somebody ordered a Corona Extra with cherry juice poured in it yesterday. Sounds interesting… I may have to try one of those.

I don’t know if I have any vegetarians who read this blog (although I had at least one in 2009), but if I do, 117 Prime is introducing Meatless Monday at lunch today. Every Monday, their daily Draper Special (entree, soup or salad, and drink for $16 including tip) will be vegetarian-friendly. Today’s Draper is a meatless Farmer’s pie with mushroom, carrots, onion, celery, and red wine gravy, topped with mashed potatoes.

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

Sunday update

Halloween is among the most popular holidays of the year, but attending loud parties or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters is not everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s something different. Regina’s Cajun Kitchen at 60 N. Main will be hosting a murder mystery Wednesday, October 31 from 5:30 to 7:30. $30 cover includes an appetizer, dinner, and a glass of wine and a well drink. If you just want to solve the murder, cover is $15. You get $5 off cover charge if you wear a costume (no masks allowed). Cash prize to the first person or team to solve the murder.

Another option is Rocky Horror Picture Show trivia at Loflin Yard on Halloween night. If you plan on going, click the link and register. Tables at Cerrito Trivia often get all reserved in advance.

Rep. Brian Kelsey wants to introduce a bill into the Tennessee legislature that would allow sports betting in Downtown Memphis and Downtown Nashville. The gubernatorial candidates stated their positions on the issue Friday night in a debate. Karl Dean would sign the bill if the legislature passed it. Bill Lee would try to prevent the legislature from passing such a bill, although he would be more open to it if left to local governments to decide. We need sports betting in Memphis. With Tunica just a few miles away, any Memphian who wants to gamble on sports, is going to do it. Why not keep that tax revenue in the state?

Plus, having a sports book lounge-type place Downtown would be one more amenity that would bring people down here. Perhaps bettors would have dinner, spend a night in a hotel, go watch a Grizzlies game while here.

There’s a tea tasting experience at The Broom Closet, 546 S. Main, this afternoon 3-5. $15 to participate and note that they ask you to bring your own cup.

Carolina Watershed will show Silence of the Lambs tonight at 7:30.

Teardrop City and Limes will play the amphitheater at Maria Montessori School on Mud Island, in the third installment of this fall’s River Series. DJ at 3, bands start at 4. A $5 donation benefits the school.

I saw a photo of low-cal beer PBR Easy sitting on the bar at Max’s Sports Bar, so add them to the places that carry Easy along with Silly Goose, Bardog, and Blind Bear.

I see people saying, “I’m going to hate on UCF for the rest of the season now” following their 31-30 victory over Memphis yesterday. Why? UCF didn’t beat Memphis; Memphis pissed that game away. I knew when Mike Norvell burned a timeout to ice the UCF kicker, that he had made a mistake. The Tigers would have been able to call that timeout with two seconds left and get a chance at the go-ahead field goal.

Also, why wouldn’t Tigers fans want an American Conference team to have a chance at the College Football Playoff? Good ole West Virginny (WAY overrated at 6), Washington, and Penn State lost yesterday, so UCF could move up to as high as 7 in today’s AP poll. If UCF runs the table and Clemson and Ohio State stumble, I’d think UCF would at least have to be in the conversation. The committee seriously considering a Group of Five team for a playoff spot is a mindset change that could benefit Memphis in the future.

I finally signed up for a Daily Memphian subscription. Being an IT guy, I know how to get around paywalls if I want, but why wouldn’t I pay $7 a month for quality writing about the topics I care about? Proud to support local journalism.

Time for Sunday brunch at Pontotoc Lounge. B-RAD only works one day a week so it’ll be time to catch him up on who’s being shady and who’s being crazy down here. Rain’s moving through so I guess I will take the umbrella. Back tomorrow with more news.

Saturday update: Downtown Dining Week and more news

Downtown Dining Week for 2018 has been announced. 40 Downtown restaurants will offer amazing deals, often multi-course, for the low price of $20.18. (Some will offer lunch for $10.18.) Click the link to see participating restaurants and their menus. Many restaurants have menu “to be announced” at this early point in time. The dates are Monday, November 5 to Sunday, November 11.

Let me repeat the advice I give every year: If there’s a restaurant you KNOW you want to visit for Downtown Dining Week, go ahead and make reservations NOW – even if they haven’t announced their menu. The most popular times at the most popular restaurants will get booked up quick. If you procrastinate, you might find yourself with a 5:00 or a 9:30 dinner seating – or no seating at all.

However – I do want to ask you to not do one thing I heard some people did last year. “Well, we’re not sure whether we want to dine at McEwen’s, or Majestic, or South of Beale Tuesday night. So we made 6:30 reservations at all three, and we’ll decide the day of.” PLEASE don’t do that. It’s inconsiderate and unfair to both the restaurants and your fellow diners.

When we get closer to time and menus get posted, I’ll come back and do a “Paul’s Picks” for DDW. For now I’ll do a “Can’t Go Wrong” list of places where I would gladly make reservations, menu unseen. First and foremost, Rizzo’s, where Michael Patrick always manages to offer a tremendous value every year. Felicia’s, McEwen’s, Majestic, and Bleu are on the list as well.

Fourth Bluff will host the grand opening of River Garden at Mississippi River Park and the new River Line walking and biking trail on Friday, November 9.

The Redbirds are looking to hire a Special Events Manager who will work aggressively to bring more weddings, conferences, and corporate events to AutoZone Park, as well as create new signature events.

The Redbirds are also seeking a Motion Graphics Designer to join their team.

A C-17 will conduct a military flyover at the end of the National Anthem at today’s Memphis-UCF game.

From the DailyMemphian: Chef Gary Williams is back in the kitchen at Krewe of DejaVu at 936 Florida.

The Flyer reports that there’s a GoFundMe effort to save the Gay Hawk, the popular soul food restaurant on S. Danny Thomas. The building is in need of extensive repairs.

City Block Salumeria and Wok’n in Memphis will team up for an October Butcher Dinner on Friday, October 19. Courses will be paired with beers from St. Louis’ Earthbound Brewery.

Very glad to hear that MPD and the Tennessee Highway Patrol have stepped up presence on local interstates in an attempt to get aggressive drivers off the roads. The people who go 100, weave in and out of lanes, never signal, and tailgate 3 feet behind the car in front of them are the problem – not the person going 72 in a 65 trying to get to work on time. Too bad it took several road rage-related deaths before the police shifted their focus.

For the second day in a row, Bardog Tavern had pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, as one of its specials. I gave into temptation and ordered it.

What makes pho such an interesting dish is that you can customize it to your liking. You start with meat and rice noodles. Bardog’s version of pho came with shaved New York strip and two meatballs.

Then you get to decide what veggies you want to add to your soup.

Bardog’s pho came with a plate of cilantro, bean sprouts, green and white onions, jalapenos, and a lime.

My complete creation. I added almost all of the veggies to my soup, although experience has taught me to go easy on the jalapenos. This was yummy and was a special I never expected to see at Bardog. They’ve got it going on in the kitchen there.

Unfortunately, with the closing of Oshi, there is no longer a place Downtown where you can get pho on a regular menu. There are several places not far away in Crosstown and Midtown that have it, Phuong Long being the one I hear the most talk about.

I didn’t know until a couple of years ago that pho is pronounced “phuh” (rhymes with “ugh”), rather than “phoh” with the long “o”. There’s a restaurant in L.A. called “Pho King” and, knowing the correct pronunciation, that’s a really good name. A quick Google search revealed that there’s a restaurant in Houston called Pho Q Long.

The Memphis Tigers host UCF in the Liberty Bowl in the biggest game of the Tigers’ year at 2:30. People are talking like a Memphis win would be a huge upset, but ESPN FPI shows UCF as a 54-46 favorite. That’s a probability I am well familiar with from playing poker. If you have a pair of Nines pre-flop, an opponent goes all in, you call, and he flips over Ace-King, you are about a 54-46 favorite and commentators term it a coin flip because it is so close to dead even. Assuming the Memphis that beat UConn, and not the Memphis that got blown out by Tulane, comes out to play, it will be close. One fumble, one interception, one missed field goal could make the difference.

You don’t have to leave Downtown to get Nashville hot chicken today. Hattie B’s food truck will be at Ghost River noon to 7. They have six heat levels for their tenders – Southern, mild, medium, hot, damn hot, or shut the cluck up. A word of advice, based on recent stories friends of mine have shared: If you’ve never had Nashville hot chicken before, don’t go above hot the first time.

That’s it for now. Time for a long day of football. I’ll start off rooting for Auburn to embarrass Tennessee (although the Vols are quite capable of doing that without help). Next up it’ll be time to cheer for the Tigers to get a signature win over a Top 10 team, and after that I’ll be pulling for Arkansas against Ole Miss.  Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update: PBR Easy comes to Downtown Memphis, River Rat Rounders come to Silly Goose, and more

Yesterday I had a good shooter at Bardog Tavern. It was a Peanut Butter Cup, with peanut-infused Jameson whiskey, floated with Kahlua. If you like Reese’s and you like alcohol, and you don’t have a peanut allergy, give one a try.

(I took the shot in the photo by the way)

While there, a beer rep came in and talked with some of the staff at the far end of the bar. About four people said “Paul Ryburn!” all at once, and I learned the rep had asked if there was anyone who was a big fan of PBR. He brought me a beer in a sample glass. “Try this and let me know what you think,” he said.

The beer was PBR Easy, a new, low calorie version of PBR. It tasted like PBR although slightly lighter. The rep said the ABV is 3.8%, a little lower than I’m used to, but these days I drink to socialize, not get drunk. I sure as hell would drink that before I’d drink low-cal swill like Mich Ultra or Miller Lite.

Later in the day I found out Silly Goose and Blind Bear carry PBR Easy. Rico at Bardog apparently promised the rep he’d order some if I liked it.

While at Bardog, Bloom and I posed for a photo in our hoodies. Jameson and PBR just go together.

Weezer along with the Pixies will play FedExForum March 22, 2019. Tickets go on sale to the public next Friday, October 19.

The Flying Saucer has announced its Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween party Saturday, October 27. $3 mystery beers, costume contest with $300 in prizes, live DJ, Nightmare Before Christmas themed cocktails.

The Memphis Wassail comes to Memphis Made Brewing Co. Saturday, December 8. It’s free to join this sing-along of holiday drinking songs, carols, and even some Christmas pop.

Great news for Silly Goose poker players. Starting Monday, their weekly game becomes a River Rat Rounders league game. Muruako will still be around, and the weekly gift card prize structure will remain the same, but there will be opportunities to get into freerolls for real money at affiliated casinos, as well as swag, prizes and Silly Goose card guards. Game starts at 8 with late entries through 9:35. So very excited to finally have a weekly River Rats game at one of my regular spots… Hey Nikki, ice down a few extra PBRs for me… you’re gonna start seeing more of me on Monday nights.

Oh also they will have a 10 PM turbo as well, so those knocked out of the main game early will still have a chance.

Don’t know what to be for Halloween? Ask Siri.

Sunday, November 18 is Bring your dog to bingo day at Loflin Yard. All players with a dog get an extra card. That day is also Buy Paul a Beer for his Birthday if you’re so inclined.

Yesterday as I was crossing Union, I saw my friend Rahul on his first day on the job on a delivery truck. “Put this on the blog!” he said. Knowing how his boo thang Tony loves a man in uniform, I wonder if Rah Rah is going to be uncomfortable sitting on that truck bench seat for his second day on the job today.

Celebrate the Indie Memphis Film Festival a bit early with the Indie Memphis beer release at Crosstown Brewing Co. next Thursday, October 18. Talk with the fest organizers about the films you’re most excited to see. My friends with the New Wing Order food truck will be there.

The Blind Bear started putting their Halloween decorations up this week. For the benefit of my readers who can’t go there for whatever reason, here are a couple of photos.

The demon baby is back

Spooky Jeannette and Spooky Stacey

Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean plays the Halloran Centre tonight.

There will be a 13 mile bike ride starting at Health Sciences Park tomorrow morning at 7. There is a 0.00% chance I will be there.

I can pretty much guarantee you I will be following along with this Saturday’s Memphis Farmers Market theme: Hit the Sauce. You can buy fresh ingredients at the Market to make your own sauces, or you can buy pre-prepared sauces from the creative vendors. Project Breathe will be at the Market all day tomorrow, with recommendations on the right vaccines to beat the flu, as well as information about asthma. Live local music all day. The Market runs for three more Saturdays under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson, 8 AM to 1 PM.

The Farmers Market has the 2018 Farm Fest photo album online. So glad I got to attend this event.

Thaddledoo it for now… back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

So, LYFE Kitchen in the Chisca closed a couple of weeks ago. What I had been hearing was, they had wanted to close for months, but they had to find a business willing to take over their lease. This led to much discussion among Downtowners, particularly about how the space is so big, including that large patio, and it is in such a prime spot, that a chain restaurant might have to take over the lease rather than a local operator.

Some of my friends lamented the thought of a chain restaurant coming to the heart of Downtown. I disagree. There are chain restaurants that wouldn’t work Downtown. I can’t imagine a Cracker Barrel down here, for example. Or an O’Charley’s. Or a Chuck E. Cheese. Those are restaurants that appeal almost exclusively to suburbanites. However, there are restaurant chains with cool, hip vibes that I think would add a lot to Downtown.

Yesterday I got a text that such a chain restaurant will be taking over the LYFE space. I haven’t confirmed this yet, so I’m not going to name the restaurant; but I will give you a couple of hints.

  1. I’m not saying this is a posh or upscale restaurant chain, but maybe you could get a thesaurus and look for a synonym for those two words.
  2. Several years ago there was a rumor this chain would open a location in One Commerce Square, but it never materialized.

In this week’s edition of The Daily Memphian’s Bar Talk, Jennifer Biggs sits down with Drew Barton, co-owner of Memphis Made Brewing Co. She sampled three Memphis Made beers that will be served at Cooper-Young Beerfest on October 20. She got to hear about the beers from the very person who brewed them, which is exactly what you get at the beer festival.

Jennifer Biggs also went In the Kitchen with my friend Jonathan Cole who writes the excellent Place at the Table food blog. He shared his recipe for squash soup.

Liz Brasher performs tonight at Old Dominick Distillery in the next installment of the Pure Memphis Music Series. $5 of every ticket sold goes to nonprofit partner The Soulsville Foundation which funds projects like the STAX Music Academy. Doors at 6:30, music at 7:30.

McEwen’s lost power for a couple of weeks due to a fire next door. Good news… the power is back on and they will spend today prepping food… then tomorrow, Friday, October 12, they will open for lunch at 11 AM! Come support a great restaurant. has an interview with Shamichael Hallman of the Fourth Bluff/Cossitt Library about CitizenFEST which is coming to Memphis this weekend. It’s an enlightening day where people learn how to truly be citizens. In a preview of what will be discussed, Hallman said there are two keys to being a citizen: power and character.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow.