Monday update

I tried the Blind Bear’s new breakfast hours yesterday morning. Since they re-licensed as a full-service restaurant last week, they are now opening at 7 AM, seven days a week, for breakfast. A couple of notes I wanted to pass on:

First of all, they have baloney breakfast sliders! As best as I can recall, that is a menu item unique to the Blind Bear among Downtown restaurants. My apologies for not getting a photo!

Secondly, I learned that although you can get your grub on at 7, you can’t get your drank on that early. “We can’t serve you alcohol until 10 on Sundays,” bartender/server Mark told me. “State law. It’s 8 AM the other six days of the week.” I pulled out my phone to see what time it was. 9:59. Glad I didn’t come down here earlier, I thought. A minute went by, and Mark took my food order then popped a PBR open.

I want to comment on one other thing the Bear has done that I think is really smart. Rather than remove all seating from the bar, they put yellow CAUTION tape around the entire bar area. It communicates “don’t sit here, don’t stand here,” reinforcing the signs hung throughout the restaurant that you must be seated at a table to be served alcohol in compliance with Health Directive No. 11.

One other note about the Bear: They have ended all their contracts through corporate food delivery services like GrubHub, UberEats, and DoorDash. However, you can still get the Bear’s food delivered exclusively through The Lifter. That’s the golf cart shuttle and food delivery service run by a great Downtown entrepreneur. Put this number in your phone and give The Lifter a call the next time you need a ride somewhere or need food delivered: 901-563-6650.

Apparently Blind Bear’s menus still appear on some of the corporate food delivery services’ websites. Jeannette has contacted every one of them and told them she has ended their partnership with them. They just don’t care!

For those of you who don’t read my blog over the weekend, there was a reason I went out to the Blind Bear for breakfast yesterday: I was celebrating! Friday afternoon I published my first article on curated content website Medium, entitled Overcome Panic and Feel at Ease at Networking Events. Saturday morning I woke up to an email from Medium indicating that they needed my tax information. That meant enough people had read my article that I was earning royalties, making me a published professional author! I have several more articles in the pipeline, and I will post links upon their publication. Feel free to share the networking article with anyone you think should see it.

The Memphis Tigers’ football season is looking a little less bright. Star receiver Kenny Gainwell is reported to have opted out of the season. Can’t blame a young man with NFL aspirations for avoiding exposure to a coronavirus that could end his pro career before it begins, but damn… that may be enough to keep the Tigers out of the Top 25.

Jennifer Biggs of the Daily Memphian reports that the Rendezvous will experiment with alley seating (subscriber only link) beginning Tuesday.

A number of restaurants will have $9.01 deals tomorrow, on $9.01 Day. Downtown options include

  • Automatic Slim’s, 901 Martini
  • Catherine & Mary’s, pasta
  • Cupcake Cutie, buy one get one half off
  • Gray Canary, oysters
  • SOB South Main, duck fried rice!!!!!
  • Also, City Tasting Tours will give $9.01 off tours and Feast & Graze charcuterie delivery service will have $9.01 off boxes.

The Orpheum will offer $9.01 mini-golf on stage September 3-7.

Looking at the Shelby County Health Department COVID-19 data page this morning, the 7-day average of new cases has plateaued in the low-to-mid 160s. That is below the 180 number needed to reopen limited-service restaurants and hopefully remove some of the restrictions on full-service restaurants. The rolling 7-day positivity rate, after bouncing around like a ping-pong ball for the past week, has hit 11%, a new low for August. 10% is the target for loosening restaurant restrictions.

Forecast: 70% chance of showers and thunderstorms today and tomorrow. 60% Wednesday. Well, that sucks. At least all the highs this week should be below 90.

Time to head in to work. Back tomorrow with more news.



Sunday update: Playing devil’s advocate with COVID goals

If you’re not reading James Aycock’s COVID-19 analysis on Twitter (he goes by the handle @firstresponses), you are missing out on some excellent work. He presents facts hidden in the data that you don’t find anywhere else, such as change in rate of testing vs. change in rate of new COVID-19 cases. He provides an alternate look at where we really are in the fight against the virus, so that we don’t have to depend solely on a government agency’s spin on the data. He typically does a mid-week report on Wednesday, and an end-of-week report on Saturday. Here his thread for Saturday, August 29.

Aycock rallies his readers around an idea I completely agree with: Residents of Shelby County would do much better fighting virus spread as a whole if we set a common goal which we could rally around, each citizen taking pride in working toward its achievement. COVID-19 certainly sucks but in it, there is a huge opportunity: For our community to see itself as one, rather than as separate from each other. Just think how far we could advance as a society, not just eliminating a virus but in many other ways, if we all learned this important lesson.

Aycock’s suggested goal for which to strive: To wipe out the virus in Shelby County to the point that kids can attend school in person after fall break. A visit to the Shelby County Schools website reveals that fall break is October 12-16, so we would have about six weeks to work on this goal as a community.

Okay. I want to play devil’s advocate here. I promise you I’m not trolling (I have a representative who handles that for me). Serious question:

How do you get people to rally behind the goal of getting kids back to school in person after fall break, when many those people don’t have any children, are not themselves educators, and don’t otherwise have any connection to the school system?

Think about the guy around the corner who throws legendary Labor Day cookouts. There’s bratwurst, there are ribs, there are burgers. Needless to say, there is beer, lots of beer, and a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Last year there was even an ice luge for people to do shots off of. People who want to cool off can take a dip in the pool, and he has several TVs for those who want to watch the games that are on. Last year 82 people showed up. It’s the guy’s claim to fame, the one day of the year he is somebody in his community.

How do you convince him that kids attending school in person are more important than his party, when he has no kids himself? How do you convince any of the 82 people who had a blast at the 2019 Labor Day party that they should skip the 2020 version and stay home?

Imagine, if you will, a smokin’ hot 22-year-old with luxurious long hair, sparkling eyes, perfect skin, full lips, and a rocking body. Last year, during her first year when she could legally drink, she discovered that she was the center of attention at the club. Guys stared at her, bought her drinks, asked her out. One dude even offered to buy her a car… she turned him down, but how cool was it that he offered? Of course, attention from men was not the real reason she wore those tight, sexy clothes on Saturday nights… it’s because she knew all of her friends were secretly jealous of her, and she wanted to rub salt in their wounds. Saturday nights were the crown jewel of her week, the three hours or so out of an otherwise dull existence when she was a star. She longs for more of those nights, but the health department closed the club. There’s a second club that’s not as good, but still open because it has a full-service restaurant license. But it closes at 10, and well, DUH, everyone knows only losers go out that early!

Now, we can all hope our young, pretty friend finds higher ambitions in life. However, right now, she is who she is, and she’s as capable of spreading COVID as you are. How do you convince her that she should give up her 15 minutes of fame so kids can attend school?

Max’s Sports Bar has been jam-packed every Saturday in the fall since it opened almost 13 years ago. It’s the place for Downtowners to watch football because Max’s has over a dozen TVs and all the sports packages. He tapes signs to each TV letting customers know which games will be on which sets, so they can select where to sit. That is, if they can find a place to sit, which they won’t if they get there more than 30 minutes after the first kickoff. There are buckets of Miller Lite and there are chocolate salty ball shots and there are BBQ nachos and there’s the guy who always says “Next year, that’s gonna be ARRRR YEARRRR” after Tennessee loses to Georgia State.

For many people, those Saturdays are the 14 best days of the year. Furthermore, if those Saturdays don’t happen, their good friend could be forced to close the business he has owned nearly all of his adult life, joining Lucky Cat Ramen and Midtown Crossing Grill on the list of beloved recent COVID casualties. Most of the regulars at Max’s don’t have kids, so how do you convince them that they should lose their gathering place at least for one season, and possibly for good, so kids can go back to school?

I hesitate to label any of the people/stereotypes above as selfish, although I realize many others would. We’re all here on earth to discover and experience that which fulfills us. For some, it may be working to discover a cure for cancer. For others, it may be shaking their ass at a club at 2:25 in the morning. Neither experience is more “right” or “wrong” than the other.

On the other hand, I do believe COVID was sent to us as an opportunity to see the entire human race as our family, rather than only the people we share a home with, or only the people we share a bar table with. If that is indeed the case, we are largely failing at our opportunity.

All right, now that I’ve pissed off just about everyone, let’s get on to the Sunday news…

The Daily Memphian has coverage of Memphis 901 FC’s march to end racism and their boycott of last night’s scheduled match. Super proud of my city’s football club. Let me reprise what I said two paragraphs ago. The events of 2020 are an opportunity to see the human race as our family, rather than only the people we share a skin color with.

A few days ago I discussed Microsoft Rewards as a way to get about 100 bucks a year in Walmart or Target gift cards for spending a few minutes a day doing Bing searches. Got another suggestion… install the ReceiptPal, ReceiptHog, and FetchRewards apps on your phone and scan grocery and drug store receipts. Based on what I’ve seen so far, each will amount to about a $100 Amazon gift card a year and you can scan the same receipt in all three apps.

I tried a Blind Bear receipt the other day but apparently the apps don’t accept receipts from bars limited service restaurants full service restaurants. “Not a real receipt,” said one of the apps. Next time I go in, I will show that to Jeannette. If it’s not a real receipt, does that mean I can stop paying my tabs there?

Travel + Leisure magazine gave our fair city some love in its article 9 stops you should make on a Great River road trip. Of course, the four major river cities made the list. In case you’re wondering what smaller cities are recommended, they are

  • Headwaters, MN
  • Lake Pepin, WI/MN
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Marianna and Helena, AR
  • Natchez, MS

If you’re looking for a way to entertain yourself at home today, the Indie Memphis Youth Film Fest is happening online.

For my readers who are casual pro wrestling fans: One of the most significant happenings of the year closed this Friday’s episode of Smackdown:

Heel Roman Reigns, managed by Paul Heyman. This is going to be AWESOME.

Biden’s lead is starting to slip. When FiveThirtyEight first launched its presidential election tracker, Uncle Joe was listed as “favored” to win, scoring the victory in 72 of 100 simulated elections, a number which went up to 73, but which has now slid down to Biden being “slightly favored” with 69 victories out of 100. Over on RealClearPolitics, Biden’s average lead in battleground states is 2.7%, down 2 points from just a couple of weeks ago, and his lead in Michigan has shrunk to 2.6% which is downright scary. If any state is a must-win state for Biden, Michigan is likely it. Slightly better news: If any state is a must-win state for Trump, it’s Florida, but Biden is up by 3.7% there.

One final comment on COVID-19: I certainly understand businesses raising prices in response to the pandemic. However, I also understand economics. If I like business A and business B equally, but I can buy a product at business A for 25% less than at business B, I am generally going to buy that product at business A.

That’s it for today. About to head out to business A to buy one of those products, along with a side of unwanted fries. Back tomorrow with more news.


Saturday update

This week I mentioned that I’ve been working on a side hustle, and I would have more to say soon. Well, the time has come. I am now a published writer on Medium, a site “for readers, writers, and the insatiably curious.”

My first article for Medium: Overcome panic and feel at ease at networking events

Feel free to share the post with anyone you think would benefit from reading. It’s about a trick I learned a long time ago, in my very early years Downtown, to survive and thrive in an environment that can be quite intimidating for introverts.

I’ll come back and say more about my side hustle at the end of this post, but first, let’s get on to the news.

The Daily Memphian had a chat with Orpheum president and CEO Brett Batterson about bringing Broadway back as well as other events. Touring Broadway shows require 100% capacity so it may be a while before those are fully back, but Orpheum classic movies on the big screen are already back, and other types of shows are on the schedule this fall.

Speaking of which, Grandma’s Big Vote, a musical stage play by William Gandy Jr. has been booked for the Orpheum’s sibling venue the Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts Sunday, October 25. Gandy’s purpose in this stage play is to convince people both young and old to cast their votes. His inspiration for the play was his grandmother, who lived to cast her One Big Vote at age 106 in the election of 2008.

Don’t forget that the Blind Bear opens for breakfast at 7 AM seven days a week. Yes, they’re still doing Hung Over Like a Bear brunch from 10 AM to 3 PM on the weekends, but classic breakfasts are available as early as 7. If you go on Saturdays or Sundays my buddy Mark will take care of you. You may remember Mark from Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall and Double J. Tip him well and if you love cats, be sure to mention that.

Hadley’s Pub has joined the Blind Bear on the list of limited-service restaurants reclassifying to full-service.

In other Downtown full-service restaurant news, Bardog now has online ordering. They’re using the ChowNow platform, and if it’s your first experience using that platform you can get 15% off your first order over $25 through September 30. If you prefer to dine in, you can do that as well, with both the main room and the Underdog now open.

Memphis Travel has a list of places to shop for musical instruments in our city. I’m glad they published the list because I would have never thought to tell tourists about one of the venues they mention: Vibe & Dime, the gift shop of Ditty TV at 510 S. Main.

In case you’re wondering if there is any college football today, the answer is no. Only three games were scheduled, all involving minor FBS conference schools. Two have been canceled and one postponed. Today shouldn’t have been a big college football day, though, COVID-19 or not; the season typically gets into full swing the Saturday before Labor Day, which is in September rather than August this year.

Look at the bright side, though… we’re six days away from Arkansas State vs. Memphis on ESPN… hopefully. Collierville High going from playing football (with media ban) to two players testing positive to going all-virtual in less than a week is a scary foreboding of what football season will look like this fall, I’m afraid.

Found a really good article on ESPN while looking for the football schedule: What experts say NBA players should do with their power to help put an end to racism and violence

On the COVID-19 front, a million antigen tests are on their way to Tennessee. Although these tests are a little less accurate than the testing in use now, they are cheap ($5) and rapid-result. Dr. Scott Strone, executive director of the College of Medicine at UTHSC, compares the technology to that used in pregnancy tests.

The same article notes that the replication rate of the coronavirus has risen from 0.89 (as reported by health department director Dr. Haushalter on Tuesday) to 0.95. Keeping it at or below 1.0 is a requirement for bars to be able to open. Let’s all wear our masks this weekend! The article also reports that testing has been at 70% or less capacity the last two weeks, so if you want a test you should be able to get one.

Memphis 901 FC won’t play North Carolina FC today as a show of protest. They will remain in Memphis and will observe the following schedule as a team:

  • 10 AM – convene on the AutoZone Park plaza
  • 10:15 – march to Civil Rights Museum
  • 10:30 – photos and reflection at the “I Am a Man” mural, 398 S. Main
  • 10:45 – arrive at National Civil Rights Museum
  • 11:00 – team tour of National Civil Rights Museum

Supporters and the public are welcome to join the team on the tour with advance ticket purchase and staggered entry times. Masks are required. The next home match is Wednesday at 7 vs. Charlotte.

Another beloved Memphis restaurant falls to COVID-19 restrictions: Lucky Cat Ramen has closed.

I don’t usually put real estate listings on here but a unit has become available in the highly-sought Wm. Farrington building at 413 S. Main. It’s a 1 BR/1 BA down the street from Puck Food Hall. Price is $225,000 and cost after property taxes, insurance, HOA and all that other crap is estimated at $1331 a month.

More about that side hustle

Medium is an outstanding subscription content site which I’ve been a paid member of on and off during the past two years. Recently I read several articles about becoming a published content author on Medium, and I thought to myself, there’s no reason I could not do this. I’ve got the writing ability, I’m not afraid of a little shameless self-promotion, and I like helping people.

Longtime readers remember that I had a side hustle once before, those Amazon storefronts that I ran through software called Associate-O-Matic. They siphoned a few commission bucks off people’s purchases through Amazon. It was perfectly legal but it wasn’t something I was passionate about, and I had to deal with software upgrades to 100 storefronts now and then. Articles, on the other hand, require practically no maintenance once they’re written and published.

My goal is to write 100 Medium articles by August 26, 2021. I have three more in Drafts right now. I’ll give you a teaser for one: After being told I should drink a gallon of water a day for a long time, I finally figured out a mind hack to do that. In a normal, non-pandemic year I would get over 80 reminders of that goal without ever having to set an alarm.

Eventually, I would like to create an information product or online course, thereby scratching the “teaching” part of my itch. Another possibility is to publish an ebook, which I have read is quite easy to do on Amazon’s Kindle platform.

One more thing I will add about Medium: If you are a programmer, web developer, or data scientist, you should most certainly check it out. They have some incredible contributors on there, and you’ll often find links to free ebooks at the end of articles.

That’s it for this Saturday morning. Time to divide a few hours between writing and laundry, then get out to my favorite full-service restaurants. Bardog and Blind Bear are both on my agenda today. Back tomorrow with more news.


Fri-yay update: A first visit to Ben-Yay’s

Yesterday I finally got the chance to visit Ben-Yay’s Gumbo Shop, the new Cajun restaurant at 51 S. Main, on the pedestrian mall between Union and Monroe.

They have something of an abbreviated menu, understandable for a restaurant opening in the middle of a pandemic.

They have three Cajun soups, which are red beans & rice, chicken & sausage gumbo, and seafood gumbo. Six po-boy sandwiches are on the menu, including sausage, catfish, shrimp, debris, oyster, and BBQ shrimp. Po-boys are offered in half or whole sizes and you can add a cup of soup to any po-boy for $2.50.

I had heard the gumbo is the thing to try here, so I ordered a bowl. I hadn’t noticed there were two, and my server asked “Which one?” I got the seafood gumbo.

I’ve only been to New Orleans one time so I’m not an expert on what gumbo from the reason should taste like, I suppose – but this gumbo was everything I hoped it would be. It was thick and loaded with seafood, and the side of bread that came with it was a nice touch.

The place certainly feels like a restaurant in New Orleans, with a couple of booths and about five tables lining the downstairs. There is also a very nice bar at which I look forward to sitting once the COVID craziness is behind us.

My server took care to make sure I was properly social distanced from other customers, one of whom praised the debris po-boy he had for lunch. I made a mental note to put that sandwich on my “to try” list. My server asked, “Where’s your little friend?” and that made Perjorie T. Roll happy as I got her out on the table and stood her next to the food. She is Memphis’ most popular troll, for sure.

Ben-Yay’s is an outstanding addition to Downtown and will fill a need for Cajun soups and sandwiches left empty by the departure of Court House Deli a year ago. I will be back as soon as I figure out which po-boy to try first, a difficult choice indeed because I WANT THEM ALL! Ben-Yay’s is open 11-10 Monday-Thursday, 11-11 Friday, 10-11 Saturday, and 10-9 Sunday.

(Disclosure: I’m friends with some of the folks there and they comped my lunch. That’s always appreciated but never expected.)

As your number-one source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my duty to inform you that an event date has changed. In celebration of National Bow Tie Day, Mo’s Bows (and Masks) was set to have a sneak peek of their fall collection this evening at BOXLOT. It was scheduled for today, but Mo didn’t count on a tropical storm coming through. The event will now be held on Saturday, September 5, with a meet & greet at 3, showcase at 3:30, and shopping at 4.

Fabulous news for Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers basketball program: Transfer Landers Nolley II from Virginia Tech is eligible to play this season. After years of giving it to Memphis up the ass, the NCAA finally cut the school a break, allowing the 6’7″ wing to compete for 2020-21.

The public is invited to Cordelia’s Market Saturday at 2:30 for Bob’s Burgers Trivia. From 11 AM to 3 PM they’ll grill burgers, with proceeds benefiting 275 Food Project. Beer and food will be available. Participation will be limited to 20 and teams of 6 or less are encouraged.

Here’s an idea for folks who visit one of Downtown’s full-service restaurants and who have to obey the stupid rule that you must order food in order to be allowed to drink a beer or cocktail… if you’re not hungry, why not take the food outside for one of our homeless friends? For restaurants on or near the Main Street Mall, it shouldn’t be hard to find someone who will accept the food. If you don’t see anyone around, place the to-go container gently on the lid of one of the green trash receptacles on Main Street. It will almost certainly be found in less than 30 minutes.

Too bad the Nuh-Uh Girl isn’t in Memphis right now. Can’t you just hear her? “If you don’t want your food, I’ll eat it.”

Downtown tech company Indigo Ag is teaming up with state agencies and Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Covington to offer a digital agricultural technology training program this fall. Students will learn about geospatial information, precision agriculture, and data integrity. It will be the beginning of a path to a Digital Agronomy Assistant diploma.

Memphis 901 FC is considering skipping its Saturday match in a show of solidarity in the protest against racial injustice.

That’s it for this post. Keep scrolling for coverage of yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference, including a very puzzling comment made by David Sweat from the health department on the county’s progress toward reopening. Probably taking a day off from going out – I don’t plan to get back to going out on a daily basis until the health department removes the shackles from full-service restaurants, allowing bar seating and eliminating the food requirement and the maximum stay of 2 hours. Besides, I have my newest side hustle almost ready to go – more on that next week. Back tomorrow with more news.



8/27 COVID-19 task force press conference recap

David Sweat, Shelby County Health Department Chief of Epidemiology & Infectious Diseases, kicked things off. He said there had been questions about the various indicators the department would need to see to allow more businesses to open back up. Sweat said that only 2 of the 8 indicators had been met: We are averaging less than 180 new cases per day, and there is an improving trend line for the past two weeks for the number of new cases. He said that the other six indicators are still failing.

WTF is he talking about here? The indicators that would allow food/drink establishments that are currently closed, including limited-service restaurants, to reopen are listed at the top of page 4 of Health Directive No.11 and there are only five of them. In addition, SCHD director Dr. Haushalter reported a reproductive rate of 0.89 in Tuesday’s press conference, indicating that a third indicator (reproductive rate at or below 1) is being met. Where is he getting his information on these indicators?

County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph took the podium and reiterated that we are headed in the direction of reopening more businesses, but we are not there yet. He said that the next couple of weeks are critical, with schools opening up, sports being played, Labor Day weekend approaching. If we see continued improvement even as those things go on, we will be in a position to open up more.

In a follow-up question, Dr. Randolph elaborated on why we are in a crucial time: Children have been sheltered at home for months, and we don’t know how their return to school will affect the transmission rate.

Dr. Randolph was asked about guidance the CDC recently issued in light of Trump’s desire for less testing. Dr. Randolph says that the CDC’s guidance is just that – GUIDANCE – and that you should listen to local health officials.

The health department’s guidance, he continued, is that if you have symptoms or have been exposed to a known COVID case, you should be tested. However, a negative test only means you are negative AT THAT TIME. If exposed, you still need to quarantine for a full 14 days, even if you receive a negative test result, because of the incubation period of the virus.

Sweat was asked about positive COVID-19 tests among football players, and how the health department would handle that. He said that the team itself – teammates, coaches, and trainers – would be considered the first circle of exposure. Members of opposing teams would be considered less at risk due to the frequency and duration of the exposure. However, the health department would still inform the opposing school, and work with them on the necessary steps.

Those were the high points from today. Back in the morning with more news.

Thursday update

The Blind Bear reopened last night, its classification as a full-service restaurant having come in. They did everything right: They have a doorman who takes your temperature, takes down your contact information, and points you to a seat. The bar seats have CAUTION tape around them so you can’t sit there. Despite the restrictions, it was wonderful to have the Bear back.

If you go, go hungry, because Jeannette is going to have to turn in monthly numbers to the ABC, proving that her food sales are more than her alcohol sales. Actually, you won’t have a choice about ordering food – the current health directive states that you must order food to be served alcohol at full-service restaurants, because that’s what keeps you SAFE FROM COVID! Before SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, considers infecting you, it goes to the register and pulls up your tab to see if there’s food on it. If not, you are a highly desirable virus host!

If you need to get your team fed for an office lunch or some other on-site event, keep the Bear in mind. One of the ways Jeannette is looking to grow her food sales is through those kinds of orders. Their menu and contact information is on their website.

There’s more good news on the COVID-19 front: For the first time since the statistic was tracked in early July, Shelby County reports fewer than 100 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds. Slowly and surely, we are kicking this pandemic’s ass so kids will be able to get back to school, and more importantly, the bars will be able to open!

Yesterday I discovered something about Downtown Memphis while researching an article I’m writing about Thomas Edison: He lived and worked here as a teenager. The 18-year-old Edison came to Memphis in 1865 as an itinerant telegraph operator. Traveling operators were known as “telegraph tramps” because they wandered from city to city, but make no mistake about it, they possessed the in-demand, high-tech skill of the times. Edison worked in an office at North Court Street and Maiden Lane (now November 6th Street) and lived next door.

Edison was fired by a jealous superior in 1866, and then took his telegraph skills to Louisville, Cincinnati (his second time in that city), and Boston. He saved enough money for an 1866 trip to Brazil, but the Port of New Orleans was closed so he turned back. The Court Square building in which Edison worked was torn down in 1953.

Info from Jimbo from Mempho:

From Forbes: The unbelievable true story of how the Memphis pyramid became a Bass Pro Shop

Congratulations to local REALTOR™ Mike Parker on selling his 500th condo in Downtown Memphis. I had the pleasure of working with Mike in a young professionals’ organization years ago, and would absolutely recommend him to anyone looking to stake out their spot in our neighborhood.

Warren Buffett believes that the meaning of money has changed in our society in the past several years. This is an important and somewhat scary read. Hey Kao, if you’re reading I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

The Orpheum has launched a fundraising campaign to make up some of the millions of dollars it has lost and will lose for the past five months, and counting, due to cancellations of shows. The theater has made the beginnings of a comeback with mini-golf on stage and socially-distanced classic movies on the big screen, but those by no means make up the financial gap.

Paige Garland, owner of Rachel’s Salon and Day Spa on Court Square, penned a piece for the CA about financial challenges the salon industry faces due to the pandemic. The way tips are handled puts the industry at a disadvantage as they fight their way back.

Yubu and the Anicent Youth Band play by the tracks at Central Station this Saturday. You can listen online or attend in person with outdoor, socially distanced seating.

BOSS MOVE: Get on the phone and order chicken only from Gus’s, then order sides from Central BBQ, which has superior sides to Gus’s. Pick them both up, take them home, and you’ve got one heck of a meal. Thanks to friends who passed on that piece of advice last night.

One more thing about the Blind Bear: I named one of the poker tables when the place first opened, and because of its location I assumed it was the one sacrificed to make room for the shuffleboard table that was brought in a few months ago. Last night, though, Jeannette assured me that Paul’s Blue Ribbon Table is still around and is available for reservations. It’s now in the back corner by the private dining room and the hallway. Cerha’s table was the one to be removed since he no longer lives in Memphis.

I didn’t make it to Ben-Yay’s Gumbo Shop for lunch yesterday due to the surprise of the Blind Bear opening. I will try to make it today. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday update

Unfortunately, I can’t start off today’s post with the promised new-restaurant review. After I got off work yesterday, I walked down to Ben-Yay’s at 5r S. Main. I had been told the new Cajun restaurant would open yesterday, but no, the opening got pushed back to today… they hope. Such an occurrence is common and completely understandable in the restaurant industry. Most likely they were waiting on a permit to come through, or an inspection to happen. I will try again today. In the meantime, you can “Like” Ben-Yay’s on Facebook

A few years ago, there was talk of a Wahlburgers location being opened on Beale Street – so named because the family behind the business is the Wahlbergs, including Marky Mark (who hung out with the Funky Bunch) and Donnie (New Kids on the Block). That venue never got off the ground, possibly due to infrastructure issues. However, this week the burger chain announced Wahlburgers Wild, a new restaurant going into Bass Pro at the Pyramid next to Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl. In keeping with the Bass Pro theme, the restaurant will offer wild game menu items by Chef Paul Wahlberg.

The Commercial Appeal profiled 10 of Memphis’ favorite ice cream shops this week. Three Downtown locations got listed, including Margie’s 901 (formerly Maggie Moo’s) on the Main Street Mall, Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. in Puck Food Hall at 409 S. Main, and the vintage soda fountain inside A. Schwab’s dry goods store on Beale Street.

When you finish this post, scroll down to read my coverage of yesterday’s Shelby County COVID-19 press conference where a major news story broke: Limited-service restaurants (what most people think of as bars) in the county now have a path to reclassify as full-service restaurants so they will be allowed to reopen during the pandemic. I have heard rumors of this for the past week or so and believe we will hear good news from one limited-service restaurant in the days to come.

From Memphis Magazine: Did you know that the Claridge Hotel at Main and Adams (now the Claridge House condos) once had a twin in St. Louis?

Got a friend visiting our Mexican friend Kao in Monclova, Mexico this week, a Little Rock-sized city in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, about 200 miles from Monterrey. Two things I have learned from his photos this week:

  1. Y’know how the Downtown Memphis Commission has grants for businesses to beautify their facades? Yeah, Monclova doesn’t have those. If there’s a “Best of Monclova” poll, a rust-brown building with “CERVEZAS” painted above the door in black letters would probably win “Most Picturesque.”
  2. A lot of the bars in Monclova are men-only. This is due to a statute from years ago designed to keep prostitutes out of the bars, a statute that was never taken off the books. This sounds far from ideal to me, but at least the bars in Monclova are open. Maybe they could write “NO HOOKERS” on a chalkboard like the staff at Bardog did last year.

I joined Quora yesterday, although it’s a platform I have yet to figure out much. Anyone can ask a question, and anyone can answer a question. It’s said to be good for mining potential writing topics. If you’re on Quora and feel like giving me a follow, here’s my profile.

The Daily Memphian talked with NBA front office staff to measure where former Memphis Tigers basketball stars James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa might go in the draft.

Hurricane Laura has been upgraded to Category 3 and is expected to slam into the Gulf Coast near the Texas-Louisiana border early tomorrow. It will pass over Texarkana as a tropical storm and will be over Little Rock as a 35 MPH tropical depression early in the morning Friday, heading in the direction of Louisville Saturday AM. Expect plenty of rain in the Memphis metro the latter half of this week.

Registration for the YMCA virtual learning academies kicks off this morning at 10. These will be safe places where kids can attend their schools online, with Wi-Fi. breakfast, lunch, snacks, supper, and tutoring available. Downtown locations are

  • Mt. Olive Cathedral (538 MLK Ave.)
  • St. James AME Church (600 N. Fourth St.)
  • Fogelman YMCA (245 Madison Ave.)

This program is designed for children of essential workers, so they can continue to earn income while their children learn.

Hot Yoga Plus and DiversiFIT will co-host Power Flow Yoga at Loflin Yard tomorrow 6-7 PM. There are limited spots so please sign up in advance. Please arrive 15 minutes early to allow time for check-in. YOGA!

That’ll do it for this post. Back tomorrow with a food review (possibly) and more news.





8/25 COVID-19 task force recap: Path for qualifying limited-service restaurants to reclassify as full-service

Dr. Haushalter, head of the Health Department, said that Health Directive No. 11, entered yesterday, clarified what is meant by limited-service restaurants, which are still to remain closed. These include beer pubs and wine bars as well as businesses that have state liquor licenses. If a restaurant’s sales are 50% or more alcohol, they shouldn’t be open right now.

However, Dr. H did say that the state licensure commission is aware of the fact that some limited-service restaurants have seen their alcohol sales drop below 50% during the pandemic, as food sales rose. Those restaurants will be allowed to show one month’s receipts, rather than a full year’s, to be able to reclassify as full-service restaurants quickly. This measure should bear fruit soon and Dr. H said the health department is supportive of limited-service restaurants finding new ways to operate in order to stay open.

County mayor Lee Harris said there would be an online walk-through for close-contact businesses (hair salons, nail salons, etc.) to apply for Our Beautiful Comeback, the county’s program to offer grants of $2000 to eligible businesses, Monday, August 31 at 3 PM. Go to to sign up. Businesses that have already applied for the grant will be notified about the walkthrough.

Mayor Harris said that in school-related cases of COVID-19, students, families, and staff will receive information quickly, “within hours” being the goal. This will apply even if there is only one case. After that, the at-risk community will receive regular follow-up notices. This applies to private schools as well as public.

Dr. Haushalter said Sunday to Monday, there was an increase of 289 new cases, a larger number than they have seen in a while, and they are keeping a close eye on that statistic.

The replication rate is at 0.89, up slightly from last week but still within the goal of keeping that number below 1.

The duplication period, the time it takes the number of coronavirus cases to double, is now at 45 days.

The week-to-week positivity rate continues to drop and was most recently measured at around 11.5%.

Testing: Walgreens will open a new testing center at their Shelby Drive/Ross Rd. store. It won’t be rapid results but it will be drive-through. Also Safety Net is converting the old Appling auto inspection station into a testing center. The expansion of testing should lead to the availability of 10,000 tests per week in Shelby County in the near future.

Hospital capacity is still doing well, with green status in facilities.

Contact tracing can be done quickly thanks to the turnaround time of testing being cut to 1-3 days. Over 10,000 people currently quarantined within the county.

12 feet of spacing between groups of spectators at sporting events was found to be best by the task force. This is a happy medium between the recommendation of 6 feet, for where there is only casual contact, and 18 feet where there is live music.

Children age 2 and under should not wear masks because they pose risks. Ages 3 and above should. Previously 12 and above was mentioned as a guideline, but that was more for enforcement purposes.

Kendall Downing of WMC asked, if a kid at school tests positive, and desks were set up for social distancing, is it possible no other people would be considered contacts? Dr. H said the health department would work with the school to make that determination. Less than 6 feet of distance for 10 minutes would be the most important standard, but they would also consider other factors. These include where the individual moved throughout the day, whether they had a mask on, and whether they coughed. Considering all factors, it is possible they would find there to be no close contacts.

Tom Bailey of the Daily Memphian asked about loosening of restrictions for city golf courses, allowing 2 riders to share a cart in which they could not properly socially distance. Dr. H said it’s like when a group comes into a restaurant, they don’t ask if they are all from the same household; groups are entrusted to do what’s right on their own to reduce transmission.

Greg Akers from the MBJ asked about 11 deaths reclassified as COVID related over the weekend. Dr. H said the health department’s reports are always preliminary. The state medical examiner reviews all cases and makes adjustments. It is a layered process to ensure that Tennessee numbers are as accurate as they can be.

In closing, Dr. H asked everyone to stay the course. She said it’s really important to get through a few weeks of school and sports to see what adjustments need to be made.

I banged this post out super quick so apologies if there are typos. Back in the morning with more news and probably a first look at a restaurant.

Tuesday update: Like finding money in your couch cushions

I’m not a big Microsoft guy by any means, but last week I discovered their Rewards program. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up, and you earn about 300 to 400 rewards points a day for taking silly quizzes and polls, using Bing to conduct searches, and hitting milestones. When you accumulate 6500 points, you can redeem them for a $5 Walmart or Target gift card. From what I’ve seen so far, it takes about 18 days to hit 6500 points. That means you can get about $100 in Walmart or Target bucks a year for piddling around on the computer for five or ten minutes a day. It’s free money; why not?

I’ll give you a PRO TIP I discovered: To earn some of the points, you have to do Bing searches from a mobile device. BUT… if you’re using Chrome as your web browser, you can put it in developer mode (F12 or fn key+F12), click the icon that looks like a phone/tablet, and select a phone type to emulate. The headers sent to Bing fool it into thinking you’re doing mobile searches.

Oh, by the way, if you have an Xbox, you can redeem the rewards points for game passes, gift cards, or Live gold memberships. Check Microsoft Rewards out; it’s the 2020 version of finding change in your couch cushions.

I found this Memphis Flyer article from February about Ben Yay’s, the Cajun restaurant that was scheduled to open in mid-March but is opening today thanks to COVID. In addition to a New Orleans menu they’ll have a coffee bar and a “scoop & serve” soup and sandwich lunch special.

Although COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the World Championship Wing Fest (former Southern Hot Wing Fest) this year, they still plan to do a People’s Choice competition on Facebook this Saturday. Follow the contest on Facebook to vote.

The Commercial Appeal has an update about what’s happening at Puck Food Hall at 409 S. Main. COVID-19 caused four vendors to close: Venga, City Block Salumeria, DoughJo, and Wok’n in Memphis. The loss of so many options put the future of the food hall in jeopardy. Daniel Masters, owner of the bar at the food hall, called Bar 409, as well as vendor station Pasta di Strada and Downtown restaurant Pontotoc Lounge and cocktail venue Silly Goose, stepped in to increase the food hall’s offerings. Pizza, calzones, burgers, sandwiches, salads, tacos, and ramen are now among the choices.

To keep the place COVID-19 safe, you now order from kiosks located inside Puck and your are texted when your food is ready. The only place you have to order in person is at the bar, because of the need to check your ID. Three of the independent vendors remain: Lulu’s (baked goods), Sweet Magnolia Gelato, and Dr. Bean’s Coffee & Tea Emporium.

StyleBlueprint profiles Brit McDaniel, owner of Paper & Clay, coming to the space on South Main that was formerly the Harley-Davidson shop. The art and ceramics store should thrive in that neighborhood, especially once South Main Trolley Nights begin once again.

Shelby County Health Directive No. 11 has been issued and limited-service restaurants remain closed.

Top-drawer, Grade-A suggestion I read yesterday: Throughout the day, say to yourself words or phrases for which you are grateful. For example, I might say to myself, “Downtown,” or “work,” or “health,” or given the time of year, “air conditioning.” You might include the name of your spouse, or your child, or your pet. The reason to adopt this practice is that gratitude moves you into a mindset of abundance, causing you to attract more abundance into your life.

Super creepy: It’s now possible to use light bulbs for eavesdropping. At this year’s virtual hacker security conference, the inventor of the technology presented his work. Sound waves from The Beatles’ “Let it Be” were reflected off a light bulb, and the system was able to re-create the audio well enough that recognition app Shazam identified the song.

Got a productivity hack before I bid you adieu this fine Tuesday morning. I’ve been working on some projects lately that I use Evernote to organize. I tend to put dates in the title – however, some projects are day-specific, and others are more of month-long projects. This presents a problem if I want to find all projects for August 2020. Because “August” and “2020” do not appear next to each other in “August 25, 2020,” it makes it hard to search for both daily and monthly notes.

My solution was to use an international date format: “2020 August” or “20/08” for monthly, and “2020 August 25” or “20/08/25” for daily. Now the year and month appear next to each other, and my searches will pick up that portion of the date for both monthly and daily notes.

Apologies for the content being somewhat scarce the past few days on this blog, but there was a good reason. For the past year I’ve been saying I’d like to start a side hustle as a freelance writer, but only in the past week have I found a clear path in that direction. Yesterday I earned a certification in content marketing, after working on a course over the weekend. I’m not normally big into selfies but today I snapped a new profile pic to give myself a more professional impression on Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Only took 16 tries to get a photo I could live with. On my to-do list: Research LinkedIn profiles for those changing careers. I’m trying to figure out how to have a profile that says, I have a graduate degree and plenty of experience in one field, but I want work (especially, freelance gigs) in a totally different field.

After work I’ll hit Ben-Yay’s for lunch. I might visit another full-service restaurant later this week. They’ll never see me coming, though. I might do a COVID-19 press conference recap this afternoon, or I may just make it part of tomorrow’s post. Check back for more news.