Tuesday update: Ben-Yay’s to go late-night

I had a conversation with the GM of the restaurant group that runs Ben-Yay’s Gumbo Shop, the New Orleans-style restaurant at 51 S. Main, yesterday. He told me they’re going to start doing late nights. They’re calling it a service industry night but it will be open to all, basically a late-night happy hour. It will be 10 PM to 3 AM Thursday through Sunday, and if it does well they may consider extending it to 7 nights a week.

The Westin Hotel near Beale Street has updated its look in all its rooms and common spaces. Cool fact I didn’t know: Guests can rent a Gibson guitar, an amp, and headphones and rock out.

From the CA: Chef Tam of Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe out in the Edge District has opened a soul food superstore. She wants the experience of her restaurant to extend beyond simply dining in, and offers all the equipment she thinks you need to have in your kitchen. If you want to fry a turkey at home, for example, she has everything you need to do that. If you can’t make it to the store’s physical location at 668 Union, you can shop online.

Fans of the New Wing Order food truck take note: It’ll be at Cordelia’s Market Wednesday evening from 5 to 8.

Carolina Watershed will hold a “Bikini Tops and Flip Flops” party this Saturday, September 4, all day starting at 11 AM. DJ Decepticon and DJMO will provide the tunes.

A 7000-square-foot event space known as the TriStar Space will open in the Emerge Building at Tennessee and G.E. Patterson next month, the Memphis Flyer reports. The space includes the 3rd floor and also the rooftop and can seat 125 or hold a standing-room-only crowd of 200.

That’s it for today. Kind of a slow news day which is normal for a Tuesday. Back tomorrow with more.

Quick “Where do the locals go” Downtown Memphis bar guide for Ida evacuees

Welcome, evacuees – it occurred to me that some of you might search for “downtown memphis” or similar and find this blog. As someone who lives in the neighborhood and goes out a lot, I thought I’d put together a quick “where the locals go” bar guide for Downtown Memphis – or really, a “where do I go” guide. This is by no means comprehensive.

  • If you want a true neighborhood bar – Bardog Tavern
  • If you want a neighborhood bar that’s also a sports bar – Max’s Sports Bar
  • If you want craft cocktails in a bright lounge setting – Silly Goose
  • If you want craft cocktails in a dark speakeasy setting – Blind Bear
  • If you want great local craft beer – Ghost River Brewery’s Beale Street location, Wiseacre at B.B. King and Butler
  • If you want BBQ – Central BBQ (or Cozy Corner, but don’t walk there and be out of that neighborhood by dark)
  • Is the chicken at Gus’s really as good as everyone says and worth the wait in line? – Yes
  • If you have kids or are a kid at heart – old-fashioned soda fountain at A. Schwab on Beale
  • If you want to hear live music – Gonna be hard to find any Downtown off Beale on a Monday or Tuesday. Try BB King’s, Blues Hall, Tin Roof
  • Where to buy to-go liquor – Downtown Wines and Liquors, Quench
  • Where to buy to-go beer – DGX, Walgreens, City Market

Hope this helps. If you have questions, email paul@paulryburn.com and I’ll try to answer as quickly as I can.

Monday update: Here comes Ida

Hurricane Ida came ashore yesterday, knocking out power to New Orleans, catastrophically flooding Louisiana and Mississippi, and knocking barges loose on the river. Complete Weather Channel coverage

Ida is now a tropical storm centered south-southwest of Jackson, MS and it is headed this way. The MemphisWeather.net super-regional radar is the best way to monitor the storm until it gets closer to the Memphis metro. The MemphisWeather.net forecast has the strongest winds tonight, when we will see 20 MPH with gusts to 35.

I want to start off with a band recommendation: Saturday night I caught the Mario Monter0sso Band at the Blind Bear, and they were phenomenal. This is a Sicilian band that described the music they play as “speakeasy music,” and they were on point down to the very last note. They play Hernando’s Hideaway a lot and also do a good bit of touring with Jason D. Williams.  If you get a chance to catch them live, you will not be disappointed.

The bartenders at Bardog told me they may close the week of September 6-12 for maintenance. I don’t have that officially confirmed but you might want to have a Plan B in mind if Bardog is your Plan A for that week.

Memphis Tigers in Forbes: Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren could each earn 7 figures this season due to NIL (name, image, likeness) opportunities at Memphis. The courts have ruled that the NCAA can’t prevent its athletes from profiting off their name, image, and likeness. FedEx and other large Memphis companies provide some enticing NIL opportunities for players. If not for the new NIL rules, it’s unlikely Memphis would have landed either Bates or Duren – they would have gone to the G-League, overseas, or to a college with a system in place for paying players under the table (“I’ll take states that begin with K for 1000, Alex.”)

The Grizzlies have waived Rajon Rondo. Rondo was acquired in an earlier trade and was in no way a good fit for Memphis. Bleacher Report indicates that the L.A. Lakers are the favorite to sign Rondo to a new deal.

Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis will speak at the September Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting. The location is TBD.

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

Saturday update

The Lenny’s at Main and Peabody Place is closed, according to multiple regular customers of the sandwich shop. The one in the Falls Building (Front at Court) remains open. There is a grassroots movement among Downtowners to request that Wing Guru take over the Main/Peabody Place location.

Good Fortune Co., featuring handmade dumplings and ramen, opened in the old South of Beale location at 361 S. Main this week. Holly has a look at the new restaurant in the I Love Memphis Blog.

Chris Herrington of the DM has a preview of the items you will find at today’s Grizzlies Garage Sale at FedExForum.

The Memphis Hustle, the G-League affiliate of the Grizzlies, will hold open tryouts in Southaven September 18 and 25. There’s a registration fee ($200 in advance, $250 at the door). Players are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

A GoFundMe has been set up to save the Peanut Shoppe. The legendary candy and nut shop, serving Memphis since 1949, will have to relocate at the end of the year due to pending renovations of the building.

Keep an eye on the weather early next week. Hurricane Ida is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane as it churns through the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern side of the storm, with the heaviest wind and most rain, is expected to hit New Orleans, a possible repeat of Katrina. Residents are being advised to evacuate and the Saints will move to Dallas to practice next week. The storm is expected to make landfall overnight Sunday-Monday. MemphisWeather.net predicts Ida’s remnants will dump 4 to 6 inches of rain on Memphis, mostly Tuesday. Weather Channel info about the storm

If you commute southbound from Downtown, you might want to take I-240 or city streets Tuesday morning. There’s a section of I-55 where water is known to pool several feet deep underneath the bridge at McLemore when rain is heavy.

Max’s Sports Bar has a Drink Like a Local special going on: Get a shot of Old Dominick Huling Station straight bourbon and a Grind City Tiger Tail malt liquor for $11.

Kelcey Johnson, executive director of the Hospitality HUB, appeared on Behind the Headlines last night. She said that the tent city that was outside City Hall for months has disappeared. The encampment was found to be inhumane and city government decided to take a different approach to homelessness. Watch Behind the Headlines

Health Directive No. 25 has been issued and will be in effect August 31 to September 30. It renews the mask mandate for indoor public spaces. It also strongly urges workplaces to require proof of COVID vaccination or regular negative COVID tests.

The MBJ has a look at Envision Memphis’ new space at 1 N. Main. The gym will have twice the room and a street-front presence it didn’t have inside the Cadre Building.

Today is Red Wine Day.

The annual COGIC Holy Convocation, scheduled to return to Memphis in November following a multi-year absence, will move to a virtual format this year in response to high COVID numbers.

Local poets take the stage at the Orpheum tonight for the History Around Memphis Poetry Slam. “Contestants will perform original poetry developed in Orpheum workshops focusing on how today’s actions impact the future and the legacy that will be left behind.” Admission to the poetry slam is free.

Today is the Rumba Room’s 13th-anniversary celebration. There will be giveaways including gift cards for dinner and VIP passes for an entire year.

Worth a Lyft or Uber to Midtown: Today is Midtown Slider Inn’s 10th-anniversary party. Free tacos, dunk tank, live music, brewery samples, swag giveaways. Half-price Jameson slushies. This party is pet-friendly.

That’s it for now. Bardog is back to opening at 11 AM on the weekends today and I plan to be there. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update

South Main Trolley Night returns tonight. Many of the shops and galleries in the South Main Arts District will stay open until 9 or later so you can shop with your neighbors. There will be live music throughout the area and many of the shops will put out complimentary wine and appetizers.

Hmmm… people are supposed to have masks on when in indoor public spaces… but they can’t consume complimentary wine and appetizers with them on… wonder how that’s going to work? Considering the record high COVID hospitalization numbers right now, you might want to sit this Trolley Night out if you’re not fully vaccinated or spend a lot of time around children under 12 or immunocompromised people.

Slider Inn Downtown will host House in the MidSouth with the GOODLife DJs tonight at 6.

Andrew Cabigao and Friends play South Main Sounds tonight 6 to 9.

Grape plays The Vault tonight at 8.

Broke Tall Folk will play Earnestine & Hazel’s tonight at 8.

More than 70 teams will compete in the World Championship Hot Wing Festival tomorrow at Tiger Lane. The event benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis. You can come down and sample the competition wings; all they ask is you drop a dollar or two in the box for Ronald McDonald House each time you sample. There’s also a Kids’ Corner, live music all day, and a hot wing eating contest. Admission is $15; free for kids under 12 (who probably shouldn’t come due to the COVID surge) and veterans.

When you hear “Born Under a Bad Sign,” you probably think of Eric Clapton and Cream, but the song was written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones. William Bell will perform at the Halloran Centre tonight. He’s touring in support of his album, “This Is Where I Live,” his first album on a major label in 30 years. Tickets are $47.50.

Visible Music College at 200 Madison will hold its 2021 Visible Music Fest tonight from 6 to 10. Live music by Visible students, a makers’ market, and a food truck. Masking and social distancing will be required except when eating or drinking.

BBQ news: The Memphis Flyer reports that multi-time world champion Melissa Cookston is starting a BBQ league for kids. 9th through 12th graders are eligible to compete, and the first competition will be held on Sunday, November 6 at AutoZone Park. $20,000 in prize money!

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative has announced that the 901 Day party they had planned in The Edge District, in conjunction with Choose 901, has been canceled. They felt it was the right thing to do at this point in time, due to the rising COVID numbers. A party at a future date is in the works.

Memphis Modern Market is back at Loflin Yard Sunday from 11 AM-5 PM. Come shop the works of local makers and enjoy some good food and drinks.

There was a fatal motorcycle accident Wednesday night at about 10 on Crump at the I-55/Riverside Drive interchange.

A new cookie cutter makes it possible to make cookies that look like your cat’s butt.

Memphis 901 FC has announced that to celebrate 901 Day, for its next home match on Wednesday, September 1, tickets will be on sale for $9.01. Every ticket will include a complimentary 12-ounce can of Ghost River beer for ticket holders 21 and up with valid ID. Before every match, celebrities including Ja Morant, Paula Raiford, and… possibly… YOU smash a guitar. Enter for your chance to do the guitar smash and win 2 free tickets.

The Redbirds have posted their 2022 schedule.

Catherine & Mary’s will be closed tonight for a private event.

Save the date: The Downtown Neighborhood Association is planning a big year-end event at the Renasant Convention Center on Thursday, November 18 (which is also my birthday). Live music, dignitaries, the annual State of Downtown address, food and drink, and more.

That’s the news for today. I think I may take this month off from Trolley Night and wait for cooler weather in September. Back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

The Daily Memphian has a report of a recent meeting between the Memphis Police Department and board members of the Downtown Memphis Commission. Downtown safety was the topic and these were a few of the highlights:

  • There have been a lot of impromptu parking lot parties that have popped up Downtown this year, and officers have had to be stationed to keep them under control
  • When the kids found out on July 4 that there was no cover charge or ID checking on Beale Street, they called all their friends and said “come on down” and things quickly got out of hand
  • MPD recommended that better, controllable lighting be installed on Beale
  • MPD created a traffic enforcement detail Downtown to deal with the increase in reckless driving and drag racing

Cheers to Penny Hardaway and Memphis men’s basketball on yesterday’s commitment from small forward Emoni Bates. Bates was a top-two prospect of the class of 2022. He was recently reclassified to the class of 2021, where he was still considered a top-five, five-star acquisition. Alongside fellow recruit Jalen Duren, Bates helps position the Tigers for a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

The Red Clay Strays play a free show tonight at Carolina Watershed at 7.

There’s been a lot of discussion on social media this week about whether the annual Cooper-Young Festival should go on as planned. It’s a huge street party that stretches about 10 blocks down South Cooper Street and 2 blocks down Young Avenue. It’s a diverse, liberal crowd, a celebration of all that is wild, weird, and wonderful in Memphis. Over the course of 10 hours, it draws 100,000+ people to the neighborhood… which in normal times would be awesome, but we live in COVID times.

I’m not gonna offer an opinion on whether it is responsible to hold an event this large during a pandemic surge, but I will make this note: The festival is Saturday, September 18. If you have your heart set on going, and you’re unvaccinated, you could go get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot this week and your body would have 3 weeks to build immunity to the virus.

Speaking of vaccines… the Memphis Fire Department mobile vaccination unit will be at the Memphis Farmers Market this Saturday from 8 to 1. They didn’t specifically say which vaccines they’d have Saturday, but in the past, the mobile unit has tended to offer both the Pfizer and the J&J.

The Majestic Grille is now open for lunch Wednesdays through Fridays 11-2. Previously they had only been opening for lunch on Fridays. New to the menu is the Kale & Brussels Salad. It has shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, apples, cranberries, carrots, almonds, and crispy chickpeas in an apple vinaigrette. Man… just typing that makes me hungry…

… makes me hungry for a Majestic Burger with extra cheese and add bacon, that is.

River City Records has created a Facebook event listing for its Grand Opening Party. It’s Saturday, September 11 from 2 to 8 at 101 South Main, in the location that used to be Bluff City Soap. I’m not a vinyl collector – I gave away my turntable years ago – but I get the feeling this is going to be a very cool store that will add to the soul of Memphis.

By the way, that reminds me… I was writing for a “local news” platform this summer before they changed the payout structure and made it not worth my time. One of the articles I was planning would have been “The Soul of Downtown Memphis” and it would have covered the following places:

  • Earnestine & Hazel’s
  • A. Schwab on Beale
  • Dyer’s
  • National Civil Rights Museum
  • Paula & Raiford’s Disco
  • Center for Southern Folklore
  • Gus’s
  • Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
  • South Main Book Juggler
  • South Main Sounds
  • Alcenia’s
  • Cozy Corner
  • and probably a brewery… if I had to pick, I’d throw Downtown Wiseacre in there

117 Prime now carries wines from Ashes & Diamonds, a Napa Valley winery recently named one of the top 100 wineries in the world by Wines & Spirits. To celebrate, the restaurant will have a wine dinner featuring Ashes & Diamonds products Monday, August 30 at 6 PM. $120 per person. Seats are limited. Call 901-433-9851 to make your reservation.

Today is National Dog Day.

Enjoy the sounds of House in the MidSouth tonight at the Moxy Hotel tonight 6-9. There is no cover charge. The event is presented by Old Dominick Distillery.

Today would have been the monthly Whet Thursday social event at the Metal Museum, but the website indicates that the event has been canceled.

Wyly Bigger performs Live at the Tracks at Central Station tonight from 7:00 to 9:30.

Bass Pro at the Pyramid will have an inflatable archery range for the kids Saturday 11 to 3. “Inflatable” and “archery” really don’t sound like two concepts that would work together, but apparently Bass Pro has found a way. Each kid who gives it a try gets a free archery clip.

That’ll do it for today’s post. If I get out this evening it’ll probably be Bardog or Max’s. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday update

It was a sad day yesterday as we learned of the death of Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones since 1963. Here are 10 facts you probably didn’t know about Charlie Watts.

This Saturday afternoon, Carolina Watershed will host round 2 of The Battle of the Beers. Memphis Made will face off against Crosstown Brewing, with 6 beers from each. There will also be 6 bands performing a free show.

Saturday Down South has a look at the rule changes for college football this season. The big one concerns overtimes.

  • First OT: Teams start from the 25-yard line, and after a touchdown they can kick an extra point or go for a 2-point conversion
  • Second OT: Teams start from the 25-yard line, and after a touchdown they must go for a 2-point conversion
  • Third and successive OTs: No more starting from the 25-yard line, just back-to-back 2-point conversions

Sounds kinda like the football version of soccer’s penalty kick shootouts. I’m not sure I like it.

Week 1 of college football runs all the way from this Saturday to next Saturday. There are 5 games this Saturday but none of them sound that exciting. The only game featuring two Power Five schools is Nebraska vs. Illinois at noon on FOX.

I’m sure some of you are wondering what cream puff football team the Tennessee Vols will pay a million dollars to come to Knoxville and beat the Vols at Neyland Stadium for opening week? This year that honor goes to Mid-American Conference powerhouse the Bowling Green Falcons. That game will be at 7 PM Thursday, September 2 on the SEC Network.

Mayor Lee Harris’ office will present Summer Ag Day on the Civic Center Plaza Friday 11 AM-1 PM. It’ll be a celebration of agriculture with a fresh produce market, live farm animals, farm-themed games, and live music. There will be plenty for children to see and do.

The Brass Door will host a watch party for Memphis 901 FC’s away game at FC Tulsa tonight at 6:30.

Southwest Tennessee Community College’s hospitality program offers the chance to put in hours at some of Downtown Memphis’ elite businesses. These include the Renasant Convention Center, the Peabody Hotel, and local restaurants. Students studying Hotel or Restaurant Management also get to go on informative tours with Welcome to Memphis or Backbeat Tours. Sounds like a great way to not only learn, but to build contacts within the industry.

Outstanding advice from Lifehacker: Always order too much fried chicken

The Flying Fish announced that they have grouper back on the menu. It’s available on a grilled platter or a grilled or fried po’boy.

News from the NCAA: 5 men’s basketball teams poised for historically great seasons in 2021-2022. Memphis is predicted to be its best since the 2008-2009 season.

Interesting read from POLITICO: The five-day scramble as Afghanistan fell quickly to the Taliban

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

Tuesday update

Local business owners Farhat Othmani (Qahwa), Wanda Russell (Wrapzody), and Willie Moore (Willie Moore’s Restaurant) were interviewed for a feature in the Washington Post on the hiring crisis in Memphis.

Max’s Sports Bar is starting up its fall cornhole league in a couple of weeks. As of yesterday, there were spots for 4 more teams left. If you want to join, get by there and sign up. They open this afternoon at 4:30. Specials for cornhole teams include

  • $4.24 Tito’s handmade vodka
  • $4.25 Jagermeister
  • $12 Miller Lite buckets

There’s a half-off Blind Bear special going on at GetMyPerks where you can get $50 of gift certificates for $25. The offer is good for food only, not alcohol, but the Bear has a fabulous menu so it’s still a great deal. You have to wait for the physical certificate to be snail-mailed to you and bring it to the restaurant to be redeemed. Promotional value expires October 31. Are we sure we can even count on the U.S. Postal Service to have delivered the certificate by then?

Star and Micey play Ghost River’s location at Main and Crump this Saturday. The El Mero Taco food truck will be onsite if you get hungry.

Mark Giannotto of the CA calls on local sporting events to lead the way in the fight against COVID by requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.

The annual Grizzlies Garage Sale will be held at FedExForum this Saturday from noon to 4. Jerseys, furniture, autographed memorabilia, basketballs, and more from past seasons will be available for purchase. Lynnie’s Links and Drinks and MemPops will be onsite.

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Col. Stephen (Steve) Chandler, who is the new commander of the MPD North Main Station. Former commander Joseph Smith has been transferred to the Mount Moriah Station.

Local 24 has a look back at the 3rd annual Beale Street Artcrawl Festival, held last Saturday.

From the Wall Street Journal: How a Billion-Dollar Farm Tech Startup (Indigo Ag) Stumbled, Then Revamped

Middle Tennessee is experiencing historic flooding, so bad that I-40 had to be closed in both directions at Bucksnort. I overheard a truck driver turn down a load to Nashville yesterday due to road conditions.

COVID Act Now has Shelby County at 113.9 new COVID cases per day per 100K residents. Prior to vaccines becoming widely available, Harvard medical staff recommended stay-home orders for areas where the rate exceeded 25 per day per 100K.

Shelby County Schools reports that more than 275 students and staff have tested positive for COVID.

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

Monday update

Sad to hear of the passing of University of Memphis football great Danton Barto. He was a star linebacker for the team then known as the Memphis State Tigers during the time I was in grad school there. He died of COVID this week. He and his wife had talked about whether to get vaccinated but decided not to. Info on where to get vaccinated in Shelby County

If you haven’t voted in the Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis 2021 poll, you have until 5 PM Wednesday to get that done.

Be careful if you have to be outside: The MemphisWeather.net forecast calls for heat indexes of 107 today through Wednesday.

Today is Cuban Sandwich Day. My top recommendation would be the Torta Cubana (pork, ham, grilled chicken, Milanese, egg) at Maciel’s.

The Pfizer COVID vaccine was granted full approval by the FDA this morning. SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS

That’s it. Slow news day but that’s typical for a Monday. Back tomorrow with more news.

Saturday update

The Grizzlies will play 7 games on national TV in the 2021-2022 season, the Daily Memphian reports. The dates are

  • Wednesday, October 27 at Portland, ESPN
  • Friday, January 14 vs. Dallas, ESPN
  • Monday, January 17 vs. Chicago, TNT (MLK Day game)
  • Wednesday, January 26 at San Antonio, ESPN
  • Wednesday, February 2 at New York, ESPN
  • Tuesday, March 8 vs. New Orleans, TNT
  • Wednesday, March 23 vs. Brooklyn, ESPN

Click through to the DM article for the full pre-season and regular season schedules as well as plenty of interesting analysis from Chris Herrington on key games and key home and away stretches.

The folks at the Green Beetle have decided to play it cautiously with regards to COVID-19. The restaurant will be closed all weekend long to provide time for a deep cleaning and for staff to get tested.

Former Grizzlies player Bonzi Wells (2004-2005) has been named head basketball coach at LeMoyne-Owen. Wells hosts a podcast called Let’s Get Technical with Memphis Tigers assistant Rasheed Wallace.

Today is the Beale Steet Artcrawl Festival. Here’s a Memphis Flyer article on what you can expect to find at the crawl.

It’s once again time for a Full Moon Kayak night tonight in Wolf River Harbor. Free 30-minute kayak rentals and a DJ.

I mentioned this earlier in the week but it’s worth mentioning again – it’s Raiford’s Day with free outdoor disco on the block of Second between Madison and Monroe.

The Brian Johnson Band plays Carolina Watershed today at 2.

Max Kaplan & The Magics play the Blind Bear tonight at 9. From the Facebook event description:

With a captivating frontman, soulful guitar leads, and a tight rhythm section, Memphis-based Max Kaplan has an exciting and original sound harkening back to the sonic landscape of funky Motown and Stax era soul, to the guitar-driven blues of the 1960’s.

Today is a big day for the folks who sit at the corner table at Max’s Sports Bar: It’s National Senior Citizens Day.

There were reports on Nextdoor of gunshots at Front and Butler last night between 10:30 and 11:00.

That’s it for today. The band at Blind Bear sounds interesting so that may be my plan for tonight.