Wednesday update

There’s a storefront at 8 S. Main with a sign that says El-Basha Grill. There are tables and chairs inside like it’s a restaurant, and occasionally I will see vehicles parked outside and people moving equipment around. However, as far as I am aware, the business has never opened its doors to the public.

Yesterday I noticed this sign in its window.

Fat Tuesday is a chain of New Orleans-style daiquiri bars. Longtime Downtowners will remember a Fat Tuesday location on the second floor of Peabody Place, across the walk from that indoor miniature golf course and that weird gift shop that had doves in a cage.

Are we about to have a bar that serves frozen drinks just steps away from Walgreens, Cafe Keough, Felicia Suzanne Restaurant – and my apartment building?

Wow. I have really mixed feelings about that. The part of me that likes to go to bars loves the idea of frozen drinks steps away. Also, it could become a convenient place to hang out with the neighbors when it’s too cold to be on the rooftop.

On the other hand, the part of me that is a resident of the relatively quiet, serene Madison-Monroe block on Main questions whether a daiquiri bar is a good fit for the neighborhood. People screaming “Wooooooooo!” at all hours of the night would no longer be an occurrence on New Year’s Eve and Music Fest – it’d be an everyday kind of thing.

Of course, we don’t know for sure that 8 S. Main is where the Fat Tuesday location will be. It could be that the owner of that building is friends with folks at the chain restaurant and let them put up a sign there. If that is the location, though, it’s going to be somewhat of a controversial topic.

I visited Stix, the Asian restaurant in Peabody Place, and tried the Diablo shrimp hibachi grill for the first time.

That spicy cream sauce on the shrimp and veggies was excellent. One of the best menu items I’ve tried yet at Stix.

Yesterday Memphis Police Chief Cereyln “C.J.” Davis, Assistant Chief Don Crowe, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, and Tennessee Highway Patrol officials held a joint news conference. Interstate shootings, drag racing, and reckless driving/stunt driving have been out of control this year. The agencies have formulated a plan to combat the illegal activity. I wrote a summary of the press conference on News Break.

The July issue of Desoto Magazine has a great article about The Peanut Shoppe on Main Street.

Flight restaurant at Main and Monroe has a host job open.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed off their final approval for renovations to Tom Lee Park this week.

Today is National Hot Dog Day.

In Edge District news, Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe is once again requiring customers to be masked while waiting on their food. They have also reduced seating for social distancing purposes. These changes are in response to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID.

Today marks the beginning of Memphis Flyer Burger Week. Some of the city’s best restaurants will serve up burgers for only $5.99 through Tuesday, July 27. Participating Downtown restaurants are Huey’s, Bardog, Flying Saucer, and Slider Inn. A portion of the proceeds from Burger Week go to the Mid-South Food Bank.

Halfway through the week and I’ve already written 8 professional articles. I think a day off is in order. I’m going to spend the afternoon at bars named after animals. Back tomorrow with more news.

Tuesday update

The COVID-19 emergency overflow hospital at 495 Union, site of the former Commercial Appeal building, has been decommissioned without ever being used. The hospital was prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to handle the threat of local hospitals exceeding their surge capacity because of COVID. That never happened, although we came close in December 2020.

Opera Memphis is looking to move from its East Memphis home into a place where the organization can feel more in the heart of the community. The CA reports that The Edge District is a top contender to house Opera Memphis.

Speaking of The Edge, it’s one of the neighborhoods eligible for building loans in a new $30 million Memphis Medical District Investment Fund. Developers find it hard to get loans to build affordable rental properties in the neighborhoods around the Med Center District. This fund will help ensure that in the future, those who work in the district will be able to live not far away.

The DM reports that details of Memphis Tigers basketball assistant coach Larry Brown’s contract have emerged. Brown’s base salary is $300,000 a year. Given that he’s won NCAA and NBA titles, he’s clearly doing this for Penny and for the love of the game more than the money. There are performance incentives and bonuses. The University of Memphis wisely threw in clauses addressing what will happen if NCAA violations happen under Brown’s watch.

Also from the DM: An old MGM warehouse on Film Row at 502 S. Second may become a jazz club. The space would be called Luxe Jazz Suite and would feature emerging talent and masters of the craft. A rooftop bar is among the plans, and the permit application states the business would get more pedestrian traffic on that block of Second.

It’s International Chess Day, making this an excellent week (I had “day” rather than “week,” but they’re closed Monday-Tuesday) to check out the offerings at the Memphis Chess Club at Madison and B.B. King Blvd. if you haven’t done so already. Even if you don’t play a lick of chess, you can pick up some yummy food in their cafe.

The GOODLife DJs will bring some positive, high-energy dance music to the MOXY Memphis hotel, 40 N. Front, Thursday from 6-9 PM.

Hot summer salsa is on the menu for this month’s Fourth Bluff Latin Dance Series this Saturday 7-8 at Fourth Bluff Park. This beginner salsa lesson, taught by the staff of Cat’s Ballroom, is free to all.

DJ Superbrad is back at the Blind Bear this Saturday night with a dance party featuring music of the ’00s.

Even more news from The Edge District: Craft Axe Throwing at 344 Floyd Alley will hold a Viking Night on Thursday. Dress up as a Viking and get $5 off your reservation. Erik and Ivar would approve.

Snack recommendation: If you haven’t tried the Ding Dongs with caramel-flavored cake inside rather than chocolate, do it. DGX usually has them.

All righty then… my to-do list for the day has a double-digit list of bullet points, so I guess I will get started on those. Back tomorrow with more news.

Monday update

Today is National Daiquiri Day. It’s a great day to cool down with a frozen drink from Wet Willie’s on Beale Street. Their Call-a-Cab fruit punch drink, in its large size, contains nearly as much alcohol as a six-pack of beer. I recommend one, but only if you’re not driving.

If you prefer to support a great local business rather than a national chain, Max’s Sports Bar has five frozen drinks on tap, including the legendary Purple Drank. They open at 4:30 but if you go down there right as they throw open the doors, give them a few minutes to fire up the drink machines.

There will be live music on the north patio of Cordelia’s Market tonight 5-7 PM. Grab a beer bucket inside and come on out and enjoy.

From the New York Post: Athletes will sleep on cardboard “anti-sex” beds in the Olympic Village. The Village tends to be a huge sex party among Olympic athletes, but that’s frowned upon this year because the contact could promote the spread of COVID. So a Japanese firm has constructed single beds, made out of cardboard, that are strong enough to support the weight of one athlete, but not two or more.

What about the wrestlers who compete in the superheavyweight division? They weigh as much as three gymnasts. Will the cardboard beds buckle under their weight?

MWN forecast for today: Only 83 for a high with a 50% chance of showers/storms; 70 tonight with a 30% chance. Wind from the northeast. It’d be a nice patio day if those showers would stay away.

Short post today, as is often the case on Monday. Back tomorrow with more news.

Sunday update

There’s a bar manager position open at a Downtown Memphis restaurant. The ZipRecruiter listing does not name the business, but it mentions craft beer and really good burgers, which strongly suggests it’s the Flying Saucer.

Memphis 901 FC picked up a draw at Indianapolis last night. That improves their record to 3-5-4, for a total of 14 points. The soccer club returns home to Memphis to host Tulsa FC on Saturday, its only home match for the month of July.

Here’s a link to the COVID Week-in-Review data analyst James Aycock published yesterday. His TL;DR: “Yikes!”

The Redbirds host the Norfolk Tides in the final game of this homestand this afternoon at 2:05. Kids 12 and under get an ice cream treat from Prairie Farms.

The Bugaloos bring their Magical History Tour to Slider Inn Downtown this afternoon at 1. The Facebook event listing described the band’s musical style as “mixes elements of 60’s and 70’s power pop, AM Gold, and soft rock.”

Grassfire Bluegrass Band plays Loflin Yard today at noon.

Just saw police motorcycles escorting a silver truck with a flashing light (not a blue police light) the wrong way up Second Street. I wonder what that’s about?

Relatively short post today. I’m going to stay home and write all day then watch WWE Money in the Bank tonight. Back tomorrow with more news.

Saturday update

Live music returns to the Memphis Farmers Market this morning. Becky Roland and the Double Stops will perform. The Market is open for business every Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson, behind the Powerhouse movie theater.

Look what I had for dinner at the Blind Bear yesterday!

The Blind Bear rolled out its current menu about 11 months ago, and when it first came out I tried the seafood risotto and the lasagna. I never got around to trying the chicken, thinking, “Meh. It’s just chicken. Boring.”

Until yesterday. Let me tell you, that chicken is anything but boring, and not trying it sooner was a big mistake. This is a herb-roasted chicken breast on a bed of mashed potatoes and asparagus, topped with a mushroom Marsala cream sauce. One of the yummiest dinners I have eaten in a while.

In other food news, the Memphis Chess Club on Madison posted to Facebook about a tasty breakfast bowl:

Enjoy a healthy and fresh mix of vanilla granola, strawberries, blueberries, banana and coconut on an acai base topped with honey and roasted almond butter.

New Wing Order made an announcement yesterday about a new partnership and a new sauce:

We have partnered with another Memphis original, Old Dominick Distillery, to create the newest sauce you can take home: Maple Bourbon! Both rich and sweet – Maple Bourbon sauce is made with real maple syrup, hints of chipotle, and infused with the bold flavor of Old Dominick’s Huling Station Bourbon. Try it on wings, grilled chicken, barbecue, and more!

Downtowners, starting the week of July 19, you can pick up a bottle of the sauce at City Market.

From Fox 13: DNA says the Downtown speed bumps are working

Also, Fox 13 interviewed Rumba Room owner Edgar Mendez about the trouble finding service industry workers. Mendez is picking up more shifts behind his own bar and has temporarily discontinued lunch in order to focus on dinner.

From Local 24: What does a 20%, or 40%, or 60% chance of rain really mean?

Well, damn! Biz Markie died.

Husband-and-wide duo Jaimee Paul and Leif Shires play the Halloran Centre tonight. Tickets are $35.

There’s a Downtown flea market at 113 Jackson today 8 AM to 5 PM. 60 vendors.

Protohype plays Carolina Watershed tonight along with Scotty B, Dudecalledrob, Defcon Engaged, and DJ MO.

Suggestion for something to do today, if you haven’t already: Go get vaccinated!

All right. Time to put a load of laundry in and wait for it to be time to walk over to the home of the four dollar PBR. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update

I did a rare second Thursday update with two extremely time-sensitive stories. Since most of my readers aren’t used to checking back in the afternoons, I’ll repeat them here.

County Mayor Harris and County Health Officer Dr. Randolph did an update yesterday afternoon on the Delta variant of COVID in Shelby County. We’re at a 7-day rolling average of 136 new cases a day, highest seen in several months. Our positivity rate of 8.9% is also the highest seen in several months. The reproduction rate is 1.52, the highest since the original Safer at Home order. I did a comprehensive recap of the press conference but I’ll highlight a couple of points Dr. Randolph made:

  • The spike in cases can be attributed in part to 2 things: The fact that Delta is so much more transmissible than the previous strains, and that we let our guard down with the masking and distancing over the July 4 weekend. The main reason Delta is spreading, though, said Dr. Randolph, is that so many people are unvaccinated. We would not see these numbers if people were getting vaccinated.
  • Dr. Randolph closed with a question to Shelby County: Is it going to take children dying before we understand this virus is not a hoax, and go get vaccinated? There are several children in intensive care in Mississippi, including 2 on ventilators.

The second piece of news I reported was more positive. The Blind Bear has decided to try something wild and crazy. Today during their happy hour, 3 to 6 PM, you can get any item on their food menu (excluding steaks and wings) for 50% off. That means you can get their rich seafood risotto, their yummy arancini balls, their pan-seared salmon, or their herb-roasted chicken for half the regular price.

The DM has an excellent article this morning on drummer Rodd Bland and the release of his debut EP, “Live on Beale Street: A Tribute to Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland.” The album is not just a tribute to Rodd’s father, but to the other musicians who have inspired him along the way. The album is released today and Bland and The Members Only Band have a release party and concert at B.B. King’s Blues Club Sunday night.

The Ida B. Wells statue will be unveiled this morning at Fourth and Beale following a parade. Wells was a journalist in the 1880s and 1890s who chronicled lynchings and racial injustices of the early Jim Crow era. She was forced to flee Memphis for fear of her life. Parade down Main Street to Beale Street at 9, statue unveiling at 11.

The DM’s Chris Herrington has a pic of the street taco wings that are New Wing Order’s flavor of the month in today’s Street Food column.

Carmen Hicks headlines Soulin’ on the River at Mud Island Amphitheater tonight at 7. Lawn chairs, picnic baskets, and coolers are welcome.

Promoter Curtis Givens’ Can I Live Weekend is back. Festivities include a black-tie affair atop the new Hyatt Centric Hotel tonight and his annual All White Affair at Mud Island River Park Saturday 3-8 PM. A reader texted me and asked why tents were being set up on Mud Island. I believe that would be the reason why.

Ducklings were rescued from a storm drain on Georgia Ave. yesterday.

Workouts on the rooftop of Old Dominick Distillery return next Thursday, July 22. The event consists of low-intensity, high-impact Hot Pilates at 6, yoga at 6:45, and cocktails at 7:30. YOGA!

Today is Guinea Pig Appreciation Day. Fun fact: Guinea pigs are considered a delicacy in Peru, especially their brains.

Fake drive-out tags are becoming a huge problem, WREG reports. People are buying them off the black market to avoid vehicle registration fees.

Former Memphis Tigers center Moussa Cisse is headed to Oklahoma State after dropping out of the NBA draft. The forecast #1 pick in this year’s draft played for OK State. You can’t blame these kids for going where they believe they can get groomed for an NBA career. Millions of dollars potentially hang in the balance.

An Amtrak train bound for Memphis crashed into a tow truck near Jackson, MS. No one on the train was hurt, but the two people in the tow truck were killed.

All-You-Can-Eat Fridays return to the Redbirds tonight, and this week’s theme is sliders. Get as many as you want, plus hot dogs, potato salad, chips, and up to 2 drinks (water/soft drinks) per person with a specialty ticket. has us down for a 40% chance of storms today (probably late afternoon if they happen) increasing to a 70% chance tonight. The good news: We aren’t likely to hit 90 until the middle of next week.

Today was going to be a day for me to stay home and write, but I can’t ignore that happy hour special at the Blind Bear. Gotta make up my mind between the salmon and the arancini. Back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update #2 – incredible Blind Bear happy hour special, COVID update

The GM of the Blind Bear just posted an incredible deal. Today and tomorrow, meaning Thursday-Friday, July 16-17, during happy hour (3-6 PM) everything on the food menu (excluding steaks and wings) is 50% off.

County Mayor Lee Harris and County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph provided an update on the COVID Delta variant in Shelby County this afternoon. Read about it here. Then go to the Bear and get you some seafood risotto, some shrimp scampi, some lasagna, or some arancini!

Thursday update

Downtown’s St. Jude Children Research Hospital has become the first hospital in Shelby County to require COVID vaccination. Employees, including employees of fundraising arm ALSAC, will have eight weeks to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (2 doses) or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (1 dose). Those who fail to meet the requirement and who don’t have a medical or religious exemption will be put on 2 weeks unpaid leave after that; if still not vaccinated at the end of the leave period, they will be fired.

This is a sign of how serious this next wave of COVID, spurred by the Delta variant, is becoming. I would urge those of you who have not been vacc’d to go get that done. Otherwise, I would not be surprised to see mandatory masking come back, even for those who are vaccinated. Possibly social distancing too.

COVID Act Now has Shelby County’s reinfection rate at a staggering 1.42 today. I don’t think we’ve seen a number that high since the original Safer at Home order. A rate above 1 indicates exponential growth of COVID cases in our county. To quote independent data analyst James Aycock, “We’re in trouble.”

Dave Barnes headlines the Get Loud! concert at Handy Park, Beale at B.B. King Blvd., tonight at 6 PM. The Nick Black Band will open. These Thursday shows are free and family-friendly.

Seasoning company McCormick is hiring a Director of Taco Relations. The successful candidate will travel the country to find out the latest taco trends, connect with taco enthusiasts on social media, and collaborate with the staff in McCormick’s kitchen. Must be able to work remotely up to 20 hours a week September-December of this year. Pay is $25,000 a month. That is not a typo.

In other taco news, Maciel’s on Main has announced they will be open for lunch only through July 27. I guess they are going through the same staffing issues many restaurants are.

For those of you who are fans of Nate’s bar upstairs at Earnestine & Hazel’s: Friday is Nate’s birthday. Get by there and say happy birthday to him if you get a chance.

Also on the birthday front: Go by River Time Market & Deli today for lunch and tell Pam happy birthday.

A man was arrested for doing 90 MPH in his Chevy Camaro on Poplar near Watkins. The speed limit is 40. The driver was street racing a white sedan, which was not able to be pulled over. Drag racing calls were up more than 100% for the period 2018-2020.

5 Whataburger locations are coming to Memphis, but they’ll all be in the ‘burbs.

An overnight shooting at Second and MLK is under investigation.

Dr. Michelle Taylor, a pediatrician, has been nominated by County Mayor Harris to lead the Health Department. She is also a military veteran. The County Commission votes on her nomination July 26.

There are throwback prices tonight at the Redbirds: $2 domestic drafts and $1 hot dogs. The team will have their throwback Memphis Chicks uniforms on. First pitch vs. Norfolk 7:10.

Tonight is Cerrito’s Music Bingo at Grind City Brewing Co.

Rodd Bland and the Members Only Band will have an EP release Sunday 7-11 PM at B.B. King’s club on Beale. The EP, released in conjunction with Nola Blue Records, is a tribute to Rodd’s father Bobby “Blue” Bland.

From Vox: The five-day workweek is dead. The pandemic has opened the path for Americans to take back more of their time.

One of my favorite authors on Medium, Zulie Rane, has a killer mind trick: If you think someone is lying to you, have them repeat their story, but tell it backward. Oh Zulie, where were you when I needed you 6 years ago? The trick is part of Zulie’s 11 tips to become a better conversationalist.

Heat index is expected to top 100 today, so take precautions if you have to be out. My plan is to stay home all day and evening and write as much as I can. I’ll be back tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday update

Ultrasound: It’s not just for pregnant women anymore. The technology was used to scan the I-40 bridge, and it revealed that there are 16 more steel plates that need to be repaired before the bridge can be safely reopened. The bridge has been closed since mid-May.

Even the finest restaurants in town are being affected by post-pandemic staffing shortages. Jennifer Biggs of the DM reports that for the first time in 25 years, Erling Jensen the Restaurant is closing Mondays and Tuesdays, although Jensen intends to keep the closing period as brief as possible. He does not want to close, but he can’t work his line cooks 7 days a week. He says it is not as simple as people preferring to stay home and collect unemployment.

WALRUS with DJ Superbrad play Earnestine & Hazel’s this Friday at 8.

YOGA! Downtown Memphis Commission’s weekly free yoga class, Yoga on the River, is changing its start time to 6:00 Tuesdays. The extra 30 minutes should allow more people to get home from work, change, and get down to the park at 51 N. Riverside Drive.

New addition to Memphis 901 FC, goalkeeper Kyle Morton, scored USL Player of the Week honors following Memphis’ 1-0 road victory over Birmingham. Morton had 8 saves in that game.

Today is National Grand Marnier Day and National Mac & Cheese Day. Blind Bear is a place where you could scratch both of those itches concurrently. If you go between 9 and 1 tonight you can sing some karaoke too.

Since we’re nearing the Summer Olympics, I thought now would be a good time to re-live a classic tweet by the legend, the greatest, the realest, the man who dominates Twitter like no other:

The Redbirds host Norfolk tonight at 7:10 at AutoZone Park.

Memphissippi Sounds is the featured act at tonight’s Sip & Song Concert Series. This one-hour performance will kick off at 5:30 this afternoon at Earnestine & Hazel’s, and if you can’t make it there in person, you can join in on their Facebook page.

Rev. Omma teaches an introductory class on smudging and cleansing tonight at the Broom Closet, 552 S. Main. She will talk about different ways to cleanse your home and yourself, and techniques with different smoke cleansings and herbs will be used. Be aware that the smoke could irritate sensitive lungs. The class is 7-9 PM and there’s a $10 “energy exchange” requested.

I had been neutral in the Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks NBA Finals up until yesterday, but then I remembered that my fellow Little Rock Hall High Warrior Bobby Portis is on the Bucks. Between him and PBR, I guess that’s enough to shift me in favor of Milwaukee. The Bucks are at home for Game 4 of the finals tonight at 8 PM CDT.

By the way, if any of my fellow Warriors are reading this, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Sue Maddison yesterday. Mrs. Maddison made 10th grade English downright fun.

That’s it for this post. My plan for today is to write 2 Medium stories and maybe 3, then get out tonight about 7 to watch the NBA finals and hear people sing karaoke. (It still blows my mind that I’m writing positive things about a karaoke night on here.) Tomorrow’s post looks to be a loaded one, so check back in the morning.

Tuesday update

Jennifer Biggs of The Daily Memphian reports that the Two Girls and a Whip Bakery at 365 S. Front has been sold. Derk Meitzler and his restaurant group will add the bakery to their growing portfolio (The Vault, Earnestine & Hazel’s, Backlot Sandwich Shop, The Paramount). It will be back open soon.

In the same article, Biggs said that The Paramount will open next week but the owners have not committed to a day yet. They want to do some private dinners this weekend and figure out what kinks need to be worked out.

The DNA reported that a permit has been pulled to start work on a hotel at the intersection of Vance and Mulberry, just a couple of blocks north of the National Civil Rights Museum. Projected opening for the hotel is first quarter 2023.

The Moxy Hotel is hiring members of its Moxy Crew. Pay is $11 an hour plus tips and this is kind of an interesting position because it is a jack-of-all-trades role. You’d be a front desk clerk, a welcome agent, a bartender. and work in food services. They’re looking for someone who “loves doing it all,” is naturally high-energy, and who enjoys chatting up guests.

The New Wing Order food truck is coming Downtown this week! It’ll be at Grind City Brewing Co. Thursday from 5 to 8.

A statue of journalist Ida B. Wells will be unveiled at the corner of Fourth and Beale Friday at 11 AM. Prior to that, there will be a week of events celebrating the life of Wells leading up to the unveiling. Today at 5:30 there will be a panel discussion about Wells’ life. Register here

Cordelia’s Market is looking for volunteers to drive people to and from pop-up vaccine clinics they will hold at the Greenlaw Community Center Saturday, July 31 and Saturday, August 21. If you can help, email to sign up. Golf carts are acceptable as well as cars and trucks.

It’s National French Fry Day. My suggestions on where to get them Downtown would be Brass Door (where they are called chips; get ’em with fish) and the Flying Saucer.

Sad to hear of the passing of “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, who main-evented the first Wrestlemania.

The Redbirds are back at AutoZone Park tonight, hosting Norfolk in a 6-game series. Tonight is Nacho Average Tuesday where every ticket includes an order of Ballpark Nachos. 7:10 is first pitch.

That’s it for today’s post. Sorry it’s a bit late going up but I found myself at a coffee shop with no Wi-Fi and had to relocate. Back tomorrow with more news.