Memphis - April 2024

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UP FRONT 10 FROM THE EDITOR ~ by anna traverse 12 OUT AND ABOUT ~ by abigail morici 14 CLASSIC DINING ~ by michael donahue 16 ASK VANCE ~ by vance lauderdale 18 ARTS ~ by abigail morici 21 901 HEALTH ~ by bruce vanwyngarden FEATURES
CEOs of the Year A salute to four leaders who personify the best in Memphis business.
HABITATS The Unicorn House Piper Dandy and Josh Shipp’s home is a pop-culture collector’s paradise. ~ by chris m c coy
Arkansas and the Geography of the Invisible During this month’s solar eclipse, listen to the landscape’s hidden flows. ~ by alex greene
LOCAL TREASURES David Less Playlist for a Life in Music ~ by alex greene
Society of Entrepreneurs Shining the spotlight on this year’s inductees. ~ by jon w. sparks
TIDBITS Kinfolk A welcome addition to the breakfast-dining scene. ~ by izzy wollfarth 72 CITY DINING The city’s most extensive dining listings. 80 FLASHBACK Pete Gray An unforgettable — and hugely inspiring — Memphis Chick. ~ by vance lauderdale VOL XLIX NO 1 | APRIL 2024 on the cover: CEOs of the Year. PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS 21 Memphis Magazine (ISSN 1622-820x) is published monthly for $18 per year by Contemporary Media, Inc., P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101 © 2024. Telephone: 901-521-9000. For subscription info, call 901-575-9470. Subscription customer service mailing address is Memphis Magazine, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. All rights reserved. • Periodicals Postage Paid at Memphis, TN. Postmasters: send address changes to Memphis Magazine, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. 18 38 80 49 25 APRIL 2024 • MEMPHISMAGAZINE.COM • 7
8 • MEMPHISMAGAZINE.COM • APRIL 2024 CEO AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF anna traverse EXECUTIVE EDITOR michael finger MANAGING EDITOR frank murtaugh SENIOR EDITORS jon w. sparks, abigail morici, bruce vanwyngarden STAFF WRITERS alex greene, chris mccoy CONTRIBUTORS michael donahue, vance lauderdale, izzy wollfarth EDITORIAL INTERN abby wingfield 4 CREATIVE DIRECTOR brian groppe ADVERTISING ART DIRECTOR christopher myers GRAPHIC DESIGNER neil williams PHOTOGRAPHERS justin fox burks, michael donahue, jordan finney, alex greene, richard lovrich, sara moseley, john pickle, vance lauderdale, ashley weaver 4 SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE sloane patteson taylor ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES kelli dewitt, chip googe, patrick pacheco 4 published by contemporary media, inc. memphis, tennessee 901-521-9000 subscriptions: 901-575-9470 4 CONTROLLER lynn sparagowski CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER jeffrey a. goldberg CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER margie neal DIGITAL SERVICES DIRECTOR kristin pawlowski ACCOUNTING AND CIRCULATION COORDINATOR mariah mccabe WAREHOUSE MANAGER chet hastings NEWSSTAND CONSULTANT joe luca SPECIAL EVENTS DIRECTOR molly willmott 4 PUBLISHER EMERITUS kenneth neill april 2024 member: City and Regional Magazine Association member: Circulation Verification Council STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE SINCE 1950 repairs reweaving handwash/cleaning appraisals sales color run restoration pet and other stain removals disinfecting padding moth damage odor removal storage and much more 3554 Park Ave., Memphis, TN • 901.327.5033 • • Like us on Facebook Spread love, not germs by having your rugs disinfected. Call us for disinfecting and cleaning of your rugs. Memphis Magazine's THE 2024 FACE OF ORIENTAL RUGS 901-388-8989 Memphis,TN38128 1875CovingtonPike Gossett Porsche 2024 Porsche Cars North America, Inc. Porsche recommends seat belt usage and observance of tra c laws at all times. c

Conversations with Strangers

My seatmate on a recent flight into Memphis sighed when he thought of this city. “Sweet Memphis,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s gotten hard there, hasn’t it?”

He grew up in Greenville, Mississippi, on land that his family, former sharecroppers, still owns and occupies, though he lives up north now in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s the oldest of 12 siblings, the son of a mother who gave birth to him when she was not quite 12 years old (not a typo). e two of them were often confused for brother and sister when he was growing up, he said. e day of our flight, he was traveling home to pay his respects at an aunt’s funeral. He’s 74 now, and remembers the tough times of the past, but mostly recalls the Memphis he used to know as a place of music and family, heart and soul, and yes, sweetness. Sweet Memphis.

Memphis has real problems. That’s no revelation. We also have a perception problem. ese are related challenges, certainly — but they are not the same challenge, and I’ve been thinking about the spaces between our reality and our perception of it, others’ perception of our reality, and (yes) our perception of others’ perception (for better or worse, a very real facet of how we understand ourselves).

decided for once just to move along instead. Mr. Fiber Optics was not looking to have his mind changed.

My new friend on the airplane, a thoughtful fellow, was quick to say that most all cities have problems. And that he’s heard Memphis is working on ours. at we have a new mayor, new energy. A fresh chance at change, maybe. He was eager to leave the airport and stop with his brother for fried chicken before continuing south to Greenville.

The real problems and the perception problems are distinct from each other, but we’ll fail if we try to fix the latter without addressing the former.

On the same recent trip, standing at a concert venue before the music started, a bored dad escorting his young-adult daughter to the show struck up a conversation with my husband and me. (“If I get too chatty, you can tell me,” said the bored dad. I tried to imagine how things would go, were we to do just that.) After sharing anecdotes from past concerts, he shared where he lives, how old he is, and what he does for a living, all in some detail. ( e Maryland suburbs of D.C., 60ish but I didn’t catch the exact number, and fiber optics, respectively.)

Eventually he asked where we are based, and when he heard “Memphis,” made a face that would have made more sense if we had said, “the Gaza Strip.” “So it’s … pretty rough there, huh?”

I started to defend my hometown — every city has problems! Memphis boasts many wonderful cultural assets! You should come visit, see for yourself! — but

A perception problem, but real problems, too. A colleague’s daughter, who lives in Chattanooga, spent a recent weekend in town. My colleague reported the following Monday morning that she had enjoyed great music (jazz at Crosstown Arts), burgers at Huey’s, a river sunset from the Metal Museum’s overlook … and the aftermath of a murder at a downtown gas station. Just another weekend in Memphis, where close to 400 people were murdered last year. I realize this recounting might sound fl ippant, and that’s not my intent. It’s just that when our city has more murders than there are days in a year, the details begin to blur.

e real problems and the perception problems are distinct from each other, but we’ll fail if we try to fi x the latter without addressing the former. We can’t just start telling different kinds of stories about Memphis and hope that the actual, everyday troubles fade away. But I fi rmly believe, all the same, that focusing a little more of our attention on what’s going right can help build a solution to address what’s going wrong. We have a new mayor, the possibility of a new era, and I remain hopeful.

It’s funny: I’m not shy about expressing my frustrations with this place among other Memphians. In those dialogues, the frustrations exist in the context of love and appreciation. But when some outsider dares to throw shade, I’m ready to spar! Because despite it all, this is still “sweet Memphis.”

… You

APRIL 2024


SPRING BLOOMS AT THE GARDEN Memphis Botanic Garden presents a weekly series where visitors can enjoy a themed activity for the family, food trucks, and more.


HIKE-A-THON TennGreen Land Conservancy’s monthlong fundraising and adventure competition encourages people of all ages and abilities to get outside for the chance to win awesome prizes by hiking, paddling, trail running, climbing, mountain biking, or taking photos. MEMPHIS, APRIL 1–30

WICKED The Orpheum brings you the untold true story of the witches of Oz.


ART BY DESIGN ARTSmemphis’ Art by Design is a curated series of events and presentations designed to highlight Memphis’ interior design community and simultaneously support the local arts community.


HAMLET Tennessee Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s tragedy. TENNESSEE



THERESA CAPUTO LIVE! THE EXPERIENCE Known for her unique ability to communicate with those who have passed on, Theresa Caputo comes face-to-face with her fans as the spirit guides her through the audience. CANNON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 255 N. MAIN, APRIL 4, 7:30 P.M.

MASTER CLASS Theatre Memphis pays tribute to opera singer Maria Callas in this play about a fictional master class taking place near the end of her life. THEATRE MEMPHIS, 630 PERKINS EXT., APRIL 5–21


TREE TOUR Learn about the trees and their history at Elmwood Cemetery, a Level II Arboretum.


6 & 13, 10:30 A.M.

BOOKSTOCK Benjamin L. Hooks

Central Library presents a fun-filled day of literary discoveries, with workshops, family-friendly activities, author meet and greets, keynote speakers, and more. BENJAMIN L. HOOKS


6, 11 A.M.–3 P.M.


Join the Brooks for the ultimate celebration of fine wines and craft bourbons benefiting the awardwinning education programs at the art museum. MEMPHIS BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART, 1934 POPLAR, APRIL 6, 6–11 P.M.


WITH KAREN BROWN This immersive experience will transport you through time, using the power of music to connect history to progress, through nostalgic sounds. NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM, 450 MULBERRY, APRIL 6, 7 P.M.


ELIZABETH KING Elizabeth King, the Sacred Soul Queen of Memphis, will release her new album Soul Provider with this special record release concert. CROSSTOWN ARTS, 1350 CONCOURSE, APRIL 6, 7:30 P.M.

LEIGH NASH With songs like “Kiss Me” and “There She Goes,” Leigh Nash’s delicate voice will captivate audience members. BARTLETT


TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE PARK Get a front-row seat to the eclipse with free eclipse-viewing glasses available to everyone on the Greensward.




MEET THE AUTHOR: LORA CHILTON Novel welcomes Memphian Lora Chilton to celebrate her new book 1666 NOVEL, 387 PERKINS EXT., APRIL 9, 6 P.M.

OVERTON SQUARE MUSIC SERIES Overton Square’s series of free concerts returns. OVERTON SQUARE, 2101 MADISON AVENUE, APRIL 12 & 19, 7 P.M.

BLUES IN THE NIGHT The soul of the blues wails out full and strong in Blues in the Night, a scorching, Tonynominated musical. HATTILOO THEATRE, 37 SOUTH COOPER, APRIL 1-MAY 5

ART IN THE LOOP Explore works in metal, glass, wood, clay, fiber, and more at this artists market. RIDGEWAY LOOP, APRIL 12–14


FLOWER SHOW Presented biennially by the Memphis Garden Club, the Memphis Flower Show is one of only eight major flower shows sanctioned by the Garden Club of America. DIXON GALLERY AND GARDENS, 4339 PARK, APRIL 13, 9 A.M.–6 P.M. | APRIL 14, 11 A.M.–5 P.M.

CODY JOHNSON Country star Cody Johnson brings The Leather Tour to Memphis with Justin Moore and Drake Milligan. FEDEXFORUM, 191 BEALE, APRIL 13, 7:30 P.M.

VARIATIONS ON A THEME This unique evening will feature music inspired by Theatre Memphis’ Master Class. OPERA MEMPHIS, 216 S. COOPER, APRIL 13, 7:30 P.M. | APRIL 14, 3 P.M.

CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE Christian McBride invites his audiences to join in his journey as he reaches for new heights across genres. GERMANTOWN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, 1801 EXETER ROAD, APRIL 13, 8 P.M.

MEET THE AUTHOR: SARA KOFFI Novel welcomes Memphis-native Sara Koffi to celebrate the release of her new book, While We Were Burning NOVEL, 387 PERKINS EXT., APRIL 16, 6 P.M.

UKULELE FESTIVAL Ukulele players from around the country gather in Memphis for ukulele concerts, workshops, open mics, and sing-along activities. RENASANT CONVENTION CENTER, 255 N. MAIN, APRIL 18-21

AFRICA IN APRIL This year’s Africa in April celebrates the Republic of Gambia. ROBERT CHURCH PARK, 191 BEALE, APRIL 19-21


Shell Daze returns with a funk-filled lineup led by JJ Grey & Mofro and Oteil & Friends. OVERTON PARK SHELL, 1928 POPLAR, APRIL 19-20

ROAR AND POUR This fun-filled night at the zoo includes tasting samples from tons of distilleries across the state, live music and dancing, incredible food, and a stellar silent auction. MEMPHIS ZOO, 2000 PRENTISS PLACE, APRIL 19, 7 P.M.

AMERICAN ROOTS Ballet Memphis celebrates the vast and exciting landscape of Americana music. CROSSTOWN THEATER, 1350 CONCOURSE, APRIL 19-21

ELEVATE Collage Dance presents its spring season performance. CANNON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 255 N. MAIN, APRIL 20-21

EARTH DAY FESTIVAL Adults and kids alike will have opportunities to experience, explore, and learn different ways of going green. SHELBY FARMS PARK, APRIL 20, 10 A.M.– 3 P.M.


“IT’S ALL RELATIVE” Morgan Lugo speaks to the lasting effects of past experiences on the progression of personal growth. METAL MUSEUM, 374 METAL MUSEUM, APRIL 21–JULY 7

CELTIC WOMAN The Celtic Woman 20th Anniversary Tour will delight audiences with its fresh blend of traditional and contemporary Irish music that echoes Ireland’s rich musical and cultural heritage.


“MEMPHIS 2024” This exhibition celebrates the vibrancy and originality of artists working in Memphis today. DIXON GALLERY AND GARDENS, 4339 PARK, APRIL 21–JUNE 30

TRUE CRIMES OF BYGONE TIMES: A TOUR OF ELMWOOD CEMETERY Hear true crime stories of decades past on Elmwood Cemetery’s walking tour. ELMWOOD CEMETERY, 824 S. DUDLEY, APRIL 26, 5:30 P.M.

YOUR ARM’S TOO SHORT TO BOX WITH GOD The Broadway musical based on the Gospel of Matthew is an uplifting musical with gospel-inspired music and inspiring storytelling. PLAYHOUSE ON THE SQUARE, 66 COOPER, APRIL 26–MAY 19


VIOLIN CONCERTO Memphis Symphony Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s 5th & Wynton Marsalis Violin Concerto. CANNON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 255 N. MAIN, APRIL 27, 7:30 P.M. Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center, 3800 Central, April 29, 2:30 p.m.

2024 OVERTON SQUARE CRAWFISH FESTIVAL Enjoy crawfish, live music, beer, and a local artists market. OVERTON SQUARE, 2101 MADISON, APRIL 27, 11 A.M.–5 P.M.

RAIN — A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES RAIN brings an electrifying concert experience celebrating the timeless music of the legendary Fab Four. ORPHEUM THEATRE, 203 S. MAIN, APRIL 28, 7 P.M.

To suggest an event for future editions of Out and About, email

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Bob’s Barksdale Restaurant

It’s changed owners over the years, but most things have stayed the same at this classic Midtown diner.

Brestaurant to his son, Jerry Stamson, who sold it to Bob, who was in the food industry, in 2000, Beth says.

ob Henry, founder of Bob’s Barksdale Restaurant, was dressed as Elvis the last time I saw him. He wore a white jumpsuit in the Stumbling Elvis Pub Crawl in August 2014. I photographed him and his wife, Beth, for a story when I was working for e Commercial Appeal.

About two months later, I wrote Bob’s obituary. I wrote that his restaurant “was ‘open for business’ the day he died.”

Some 10 years later, it’s still business as usual at “ e Barksdale” or “Bob’s,” as customers call it.

Every table is taken on my visit. Photos of smiling customers on memorabilia-covered walls look down on the smiling faces of customers talking and eating. Servers with coffee pots wind around tables pouring refills and taking orders. It’s breakfast and lunch all day until the restaurant stops serving at 1:45 p.m. But you can also get a plate lunch after 11 a.m. except on Saturdays.

Beth greets customers at the cash register. e Barksdale has been her second job since Bob

died. She got to know him when she began visiting the restaurant. e insurance company she still works for was located across the street.

“We were just friends for years,” she says. “I’d come over and have coffee. en I got to know people. And I got to know some of the servers. And then later on in life it worked out to where we ended up getting together and got married. I just knew that he was a good man.”

Bob wore a “Spanish Flower” Elvis jumpsuit when they got married on Beale Street. As he told me in my interview, “She came down off the balcony, and I sang, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.’”

“He ended up dying of liver and kidney failure,” Beth says. “He had a three-week stint in a

e Barksdale was “totally his baby.” Menu items basically have been the same since he bought the restaurant. “I used to ask him, ‘Why don’t you add blah, blah, blah?’ And he said, ‘ is is the way it’s always been and it’s successful.’”

e Barksdale, which sells “meat and threes” at lunch, sells a lot of omelets and pancakes served with their homemade syrup.

e interior and exterior have pretty much remained the same.

hospital and came home.” Bob died within 24 hours after coming home, she adds. She then took over the restaurant. “He asked me to do that for him, and that’s what I did.”

Beth says she and the staff “made a pact.” She said she was going to keep her job at the insurance company as well as run the restaurant and they’d try to make it work.

“Most of the staff has been here since Bob was. ey were all under Bob. ey’re the heroes.”

e original Barksdale Restaurant was at 227 South Barksdale Street, Beth says. e owner, whose last name was Stamson, was from Greece. She was told Stamson was a dishwasher who “saved up enough to start the Barksdale.”

e restaurant moved to its current location at 237 S. Cooper Street around 1968, but Beth says, “We’re not sure how long he had it on Barksdale Street prior to this.”

Stamson had given the

Beth remembers saying after she took over, “You know, I’m wondering if maybe we want to spruce it up in there?”

“You could hear the Midtown gasps: ‘No, no, no. We like it like that.’” Customers tell her they began coming to the Barksdale with their dad and now they bring their grandmother.

A few minor changes have taken place in recent years. Beth had some interior painting done when they were closed for 82 days during the pandemic. en she had to repair the foyer after a car crashed into the front of the restaurant on June 26, 2022.

About half of the customers are college students. “We have some customers who have been coming in here 30, 40 years. When we don’t see them, we start to worry.”

Over the years, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and the filming of at least one short movie have taken place at e Barksdale. I was honored when server Bert McElroy took a photo of me and Beth to hang on the wall. He also handles the special guest book for outof-towners.

People can’t just go out and open a restaurant like the Barksdale, Beth says. “A diner like this, you cannot duplicate because it still is the old greasyspoon diner.” And, she affectionately adds, “It’s just a cool old place.”

Bob’s Barksdale Restaurant is located at 237 S. Cooper Street.


Congratulations, Dwayne Spencer, on being named CEO of the Year!

Dwayne, since 2001, you’ve worked daily to ensure more people in our community can access affordable mortgages and home repairs. Your leadership has propelled Memphis Habitat forward through its most transformative years. Thank you for leading with dedication, determination and a commitment to Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Congratulations from Memphis Habitat’s board and staff!



every dollar raised helps build / improve local homes
new homes and affordable mortgages senior homeowner repairs / modifications
Dwayne, you nailed it!

Flagg Bros. Shoes

Our history expert solves local mysteries: who, what, when, where, why, and why not. Well, sometimes.

DEAR VANCE: My family used to drive downtown and shop at the Flagg Bros. shoe store, but I wasn’t able to find it on a recent trip. What happened to the store, and the brothers?


DEAR D.G.: When you mentioned the Flaggs, I slumped back in my La-Z-Boy, closed my eyes, and imagined two elderly gentlemen — perhaps named Hans and Josef — struggling as cobblers in the Black Forest region of Germany. Seeking better opportunities in the New World, they somehow ventured to America, where they began cobbling in, say, Philadelphia. Customers praised their craftsmanship so highly that the brothers invested their life savings in their own

shoe store, which became such a success that they opened branches in other cities, including Memphis. Oh, they were so proud of their new venture — and their new life as Americans — that they embellished each store entrance with the Stars and Stripes, as you can see here if you look closely, inset into the sidewalk just outside the front door.

What a shame that not a word of this charming tale is true. Instead, a conglomerate based in Nashville, with the rather impersonal name of General Shoe Corporation, selected “Flagg Bros.” because it gave a personal touch to the stores they opened across the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s. General Shoe owned half a dozen other brands,

left: Almost every store along Main Street once featured eye-catching signs, this one produced by the Balton Sign Company of Memphis.

including Jarman, Holiday, Hardy, Allen’s, and Berland.

And forget about the European origins. Most of the shoes sold in these stores weren’t made by two elderly cobblers, but were mass-manufactured in giant plants in Iuka, Mississippi, and Frankfort, Kentucky. In fact, the demand for General Shoe products was so great they later opened factories and retail stores in Mexico, Peru, and Tokyo. And shoes were just part of their empire. Over the years, the firm acquired interests in the upscale Bonwit-Teller clothing stores and even Tiffany & Co., where Mother Lauderdale purchased most of her best jewelry.

But back to your question. The first Flagg Bros. store opened in Memphis in 1941 at 87 South Main. The company obviously didn’t fear competition. That location was right next door to Thom McAnn Shoes, which was next door to Clark’s Shoes.

Or maybe I’m wrong about that, and the competition eventually chased them down the block, to 22 South Main. In 1956, chatty newspaper ads invited readers, “Come along, Sir, and move with us and find a way to ‘look hot’ but keep cool.” Flagg, you see, only sold shoes to men, and what I found interesting was their pricing. For many years, no matter the style, all their shoes cost the same — $8.95. They also offered their “Old Shoe Roundup,” paying customers $1 to buy back their old shoes.

Based on their newspaper ads — and really, that’s all I have to go on here — they presented an astonishing variety. Every week, it seems, Flagg Bros. introduced

new styles. One Christmas, they offered four different slippers: The Snuggler (“the genuine cowhide hand-stitched moccasin”), the Don Juan (“for the elegant man”), the Lumberjack (“practically a shoe but as soft as a sock”), and the Commander (“what he means when he says ‘pipe and slippers’”).

Flagg Bros. eventually raised their prices, as their shoes became fancier, “styled by Flagg, but inspired in Italy”). After all, for $9.95, it would be hard to resist the “Roman” for the “gentlemen who likes sports cars, blondes, and wants to be the top men in your set.” Even better was the “Chariot,” available in “Shades of the Emperors: golden calf, toga yellow, statue bronze, temple-fire red, and gladiator tan.” Why, I’m wearing the toga-yellow version right now!

Unfortunately, many stores along Main Street suffered during the 1970s. Flagg Bros. closed and moved east, opening branches in Poplar Plaza and Raleigh Springs Mall. You won’t find them there today. I can’t provide a specific date for the closing of the stores here, but after 1982, Flagg Bros. stopped their weekly newspaper advertising, so that’s a clue.

I also can’t tell you what happened to the nice storefront you see here, with its wonderful neon lettering provided by the Balton Sign Company. I actually strolled along Main Street Mall searching for either 22 or 87 South Main, but even after I located those addresses, the buildings have changed so much over the years (or been demolished) that I found nothing resembling this façade. What really disappointed me was the loss of the inlaid flag at the entrance. That was a nice touch that I hoped had survived. But time marches on — albeit not in Flagg Bros. shoes.


Joseph Mancini and The New National

DEAR VANCE: On a recent visit to Calvary Cemetery, I was impressed by the large monument devoted to the Mancini family. Who was Joseph Mancini, and what did he do in Memphis?


DEAR G.L.: Calvary is a spectacular cemetery, with grand memorials and ornately carved gravestones. A walk among them shows the impact the Italian community has had on our city, with so many graves bearing Italian names and inscriptions. More than most cemeteries, the markers at Calvary also have a somewhat unusual feature: Many carry small oval portraits of the deceased, mounted on the face of the tombstone.

It’s hard to miss the Mancini family plot, watched over by a pair of winged angels, with a third standing before a ruggedly carved cross. All three are beautifully carved, and note also the nicely carved “M” ornaments on either side of the steps.

death,” put it quite simply: “Throughout his career here he had acquired an enviable reputation of a man of fine business instincts, of a charitable bend, and of an upright mind.”

Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1852, he came to America at an early age, and when he was 13 moved to Memphis, presumably with other members of his family. What the Mancinis did between immigrating and arriving in this city, I cannot say. At any rate, he soon began working in a saloon on Main Street, working his way up to barkeeper, a profession he would follow for the rest of his days. Every few years, it seems, he took a job with another tavern in Memphis, until he finally found a nice location at 35 Madison and opened his own place. At first, it was known simply as Mancini’s, but around 1900 he moved to 119 Madison and gave his bar a rather catchy name: The New National. (There was no “Old” National, in case you were wondering.)

“Throughout the years, Mr. Mancini persevered in honest endeavor, and with the respect of his fellow citizens acquired a considerable fortune.”

So why such an impressive monument? Well, The Commercial Appeal, noting in its edition of October 30, 1909, that Joseph Mancini had been “called by

able and, to my mind at least, quite romantic. As the newspapers told it, “He returned to Italy to claim a bride, Miss Regina Forte, at that time. She had been the sweetheart of his childhood days in sunny Italy, and he brought her back to Memphis and to America to share in the prosperity he had found in the West.” Isn’t that a lovely story?

above: It’s hard to miss the impressive Mancini monument in Calvary Cemetery, with the graves watched over by three beautifully carved angels.

“Locating his business in the very heart of the business district,” observed The Commercial Appeal, “he became widely known and thoroughly respected and numbered among his friends the first citizens of Memphis.” He must have been an enterprising businessman; city directory ads in 1900 indicated he had one of the first 200 telephones in Memphis (the number for The New National was simply 194).

Sometime around 1885 — I couldn’t find the exact date — Mancini did something remark-

His obituary noted, “Throughout the years, Mr. Mancini persevered in honest endeavor, and with the respect of his fellow citizens acquired a considerable fortune.” So I suppose that explains the elaborate monument for Joseph and other members of his family.

Mancini took ill in 1908, suffering from pernicious anemia, and “during the last months of his life visited health resorts in the North, but in vain, the treatment he underwent serving only to stay the end.” He was laid to rest on a hillside in Calvary, next to the grave of his seven-yearold daughter, who had died of asthma — an untreatable disease in those days — in 1886. His

wife died in 1914 and was buried with her husband and daughter. Over the years, their three other adult children eventually joined them there.

Summing up his life, The Commercial Appeal observed, “His retail liquor business earned for its proprietor a reputation as an upright and public-spirited businessman. The death of Mr. Mancini will be genuinely regretted by his many, many friends.”

I’m sure my own “many, many friends” will feel the same sadness about me — but only because I owe all of them money.

Got a question for Vance?


MAIL: Vance Lauderdale, Memphis Magazine, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101

ONLINE: Or visit him on Facebook.


The Mythmaking of an Artist

Muralist Birdcap presents his first Memphis solo show — a retelling of the Iliad — at Crosstown Arts.

Homer’s Il I ad begins with a promise of anger, of Achilles’ wrath that would bring about the ruin of Troy. “Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades,” goes the epic. “Many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures.”

It’s a story driven by men’s pride, cloaked as heroism, yet leading only to bloodshed and tragedy. Or, as artist Michael “Birdcap” Roy puts it, “All these men were doing all these sort of idiotic things under the guise to be heroic.”

But Birdcap doesn’t say this to belittle these characters, but instead to remark on their humanity that might go unnoticed under the prestige of classical literature. “I just found something very comforting or familiar in these men,” he says. “It reminded me of growing up in the deep South and what it means to be

based on the word Ilium, which is the Latinized version of Troy, and umpta is sort of like a false noise to make it sound like a Mississippi county,” Birdcap says. “I thought it was a good way to have an introspective show that talked about myself but using this sort of universal reference.”

He writes in his artist statement, “The men in these works shout from a nihilistic void, and in their attempts to be heroic, they, like the ancients before them, choose death over happiness, a closed ear before sound advice, and doom before an apology.”

This is Birdcap’s first solo show in Memphis. While he is known for his large-scale murals seen throughout the city and around the world, Birdcap says, “This is my first chance to have a big sort of homecoming show.”

Before he was Birdcap, Michael Roy grew up in Escatawpa, Mississippi, a town of some 3,000 people near the Gulf Coast. “I’m 36 now,” he says. “I’m old enough to know I can’t be from anywhere else. There was a time when I was young, where I was like, if I try, I can be from somewhere else. And it’s like, no, your memories are there and they’re a part of you, they’re a part of your myth.”

his move to Seoul, South Korea, where he worked as a teacher and illustrator for four years. That’s where he got into the graffiti scene and became Birdcap, and he attributes this metamorphosis to his fateful meeting with Korean artist Junkhouse.

“I learned how to paint murals under her,” he says. “She’s — I don’t know — five-foot-four and fearless and taught me a lot. But I wanted my name to have a similar cadence to hers, to have two syllables and to be two random English words put together. And you know the idiom ‘feather in your cap’? I thought a lot of feathers in your cap would be better luck. So a Birdcap is pretty lucky. But really I wanted to pay respect to her for all she was doing for me and getting me off the ground as an artist.”

a man in Mississippi and how sometimes cleverness and wit are almost looked down upon. Like, your ability to be stoic within pain is more exceptional than your ability to avoid pain. So you stay during a hurricane or you work a hard job. You don’t try to become like a crafty lawyer. … Those characters reminded me of my family and me.”

Birdcap’s current show at Crosstown Arts plays with this idea. Titled “Iliumpta,” the exhibition is a retelling of Homer’s poem, set in the southernmost bayous of Mississippi in the fictitious county of Iliumpta. “It’s

Since he can remember, Birdcap was always drawing. In 2003, he attended the Mississippi School of the Arts the first year it opened in Brookhaven, just south of the state capital. “I had a terrible portfolio — I drew Ninja Turtles on computer paper,” he says, “but they put the bug in me and I determined that’s what I wanted to do. And that’s how I came to Memphis, going to the now-defunct Memphis College of Arts. I majored in painting and minored in art history.”

The year he began attending MCA was also the same year he painted his first mural. It was 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated his hometown. He created a tribute in Escatawpa to the lives lost and the damage done in the storm.

Murals would become his favored medium, but not until after

When he moved back to the States, Birdcap eventually landed back in Memphis as a fulltime artist, a profession he never thought he’d be able to claim. “It used to be, like, no jobs; you would have to beg someone to come and let you paint their walls,” he told Memphis Magazine in 2020, in a story that introduced readers to murals he had painted around town. Now, though, it’s not hard to find his work, readily visible at places like Eclectic Eye, the Art Center, Barbaro Alley, the Exchange Building, and Broad Avenue — and that’s just in Memphis. He’s also done murals nationally and internationally.

Even as a full-time artist with steady, and fairly impressive, work, Birdcap admits his own insecurity in his identity as an artist, especially as a Southern man raised in a culture that prescribes a certain kind of stoic masculinity.

“I never felt like I had a real job,” he says. “There was something immoral about artistry, like I’m cheating people of money somehow. And so I got into the type of artistry that is the most like construction work, which is murals. You show up at a jobsite early and work in the daytime and you are on a ladder and you’re using construction equipment.

“I think I’ve found the avenue

Birdcap, Peace Returns: The Death of Achilles, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy the artist.

that makes it feel like a Protestant work ethic. I think that’s something deeply Southern in me where I had to legitimize it to myself because there was a perception that it wasn’t work, which is ridiculous. I know that consciously and intellectually, but there’s some unconscious part of you that’s like, no, I’m cheating.”

As much as “Iliumpta” is a reflection on the South and the Southern man, it has also been an opportunity for Birdcap to challenge his own perceptions. With this being a studio show, he cannot default on murals as a bridge between his art and his desire to “legitimize” himself. Instead, he must expose his own vulnerabilities as an artist, presenting his ideas in an intimate gallery setting.

“It’s a deal with the devil,” the artist says, “because if you work hard at anything — and it doesn’t have to be art — but if you work in any field as many hours as you have to work to be an artist, you need to have an unhealthy relationship, where it sort of defines you. That means when it’s going good you feel good, but then the day something bad happens, you’re like, I’m bad. It’s so intertwined with your spirit. But I’ve always wanted to do this and never thought of another job. I don’t think I’m good at very much.

“I’ve been pretty transparent about my own mental health over the last few years, and this work is an extension of that,” Birdcap continues. “The paintings are about the South and the Southern man, but in no way am I trying to divide myself from the Southern man. I am imperatively a Southern man. So all the faults displayed in the paintings, I see in myself.”

For this show, Birdcap experimented with different media beyond painting, like mosaic, sculpture, and silkscreen. “You have to keep the learning process in your routine or you get bored,” he says. “As technology advances, there are more and more intuitive ways to build art — I’m thinking specifically of AI but there’s a lot of other

projects. I think of my brain as almost anachronistic or like regression. So, like, AI is becoming really big and I’m going to mortar and stones. I did a mural festival last year in Pompeii, Italy, and I was blown away by just how anti-ephemeral the work is, how long it’s lasted. And I just wanted to make some really analog work.”

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that mosaics have a built-in aesthetic of antiquity to go along with the Greco-Roman mythology at the core of the show. Yet, in true Birdcap style, his mosaics are “ridiculously cartoony” — as are the other pieces in the show.

“I like cartoons because when I was young, I would try to make dramatic work about my feelings or politics or whatever, but I would visualize it in this dramatic way,” he says. “And I think it had the opposite effect where people didn’t really want to pay attention to it. But I think cartoons are very safe and we all have this child-like relationship with them, and so it allows you to put these complicated or harder messages in but still be listened to. Like, it’s not baroque. It really is subtle.”

His piece, Too Much to Bear: The Suicide of Ajax, he points out, deals with male fragility quite darkly, yet because it is presented with saturated colors and is an inflatable, reminiscent of holiday decorations or childhood birthday parties, it takes on a sort of softness. But Birdcap says, “My character is Ajax, who basically got drunk with rage and really embarrassed himself, and the next day, unable to deal with this shame, he committed suicide. And so that could be a fairly heavy piece.”

Indeed, though the Iliad ’s central conflict is a battle of pride between King Agamemnon and Achilles and “Iliumpta” contains depictions of both men, Birdcap has also pulled inspiration from peripheral characters, like Ajax, centering them as focal points in various pieces. In this way, he allows for multiple perspectives to take up space, opening up more entry points for viewers to connect with his narrative that

blends ancient mythology with his Southern experiences.

Take his painting Mississiphus: Priam Rebuilds Ilium. “Troy is famously the city that fell twice,” Birdcap says. “I really liked that image of [King Priam] rebuilding the city, but it’s just like a single line; it’s not important to the main story. But Priam, quietly rebuilding the city, knowing the dangers of it, it just struck me as this moment to paint something that looks like Sisyphus, where it’s this man pushing a boulder up a hill trying to rebuild his home. And I wanted to play with the word Mississippi and so I cut it off in the painting to where you can read it as ‘Mississippi’ or you can read it as the title of the painting.”

Meanwhile, Hurricane Party: Myrmidons finds inspiration in Achilles’ soldiers, who scaled walls by climbing on top of each other’s shoulders. “I liked the idea of using Myrmidons as a relationship to hurricanes on the Gulf Coast,” the artist says, “so I have my characters stacked up on each other and there’s a flood line. There’s a couple above the water, and I titled it Hurricane Party, which is a popular and stupid thing we do on the coast where if a hurricane is coming, we don’t leave, we go and get drunk together. It sort of summed up one aspect of what I felt is kind of crazy about us as Southern coast people.”

Despite the craziness, he says, “I think there’s magic here, and I think there’s room for mythology and folktales in a way that maybe other regions don’t have. We have a unique relationship to the power of myth, and so it’s not a big jump for me to think these make sense together.”

As distant as characters originated in antiquity may seem, Birdcap has always kept them close. “That was always my favorite part of school when I was young,” he says. “Those stories are just so enchanting. … And I think one thing I saw in Pompeii and one thing I think about a lot now is, history is just so much shorter

than we give it credit for. Like the people who were in Pompeii were going out and drinking and getting fast-food equivalents. Like they’re the same; we haven’t changed as a people. So those stories are extremely powerful because they’re so well-written and well-trodden.”

Mythology has been a recurring theme in his work, he says. “I feel bad that I might lose people on referencing something that’s not popular, but the safety of doing something that’s so old, in 20 years that’ll still be knowledge that we have. Whereas, if I make a reference to a current celebrity or a current trope, it might get lost. … So I just like the evergreen quality of myth.”

And truly that is the beauty of myth — its ability to captivate audiences across centuries as reimaginations, reinterpretations, and even misinterpretations that inspire and provoke. Since antiquity, myth has been a lens to analyze the human experience, yet there is no one meaning to glean from it, just as Birdcap hopes is the case with “Iliumpta.”

“I used to liken [artmaking] to streaking in the dark,” he says. “Like, if you’re a writer, you’re streaking in the daytime, you’re putting your heart out there, and everyone can read it and so they see all the details, which is far scarier to me than streaking at night. Yes, I’m putting myself out there, but it’s also coded. It’s in this visual hieroglyphic, where you can read whatever you want into it.”

Birdcap’s “Iliumpta” is on display at Crosstown Arts through April 28th.

Birdcap, Icarus (Relic), stone on panel. Courtesy the artist.


To get his body back into the swing of things, one writer hits the links.

The jokes write themselves.

In January, when I asked Dr. Nickalus Khan — the talented young neurosurgeon from Semmes Murphey who had rebuilt my upper back a year earlier — if I could play golf again, his answer was a reassuring, “Absolutely.” When I told my friend John Ryan that my doctor had said I could play golf, his response was: “ at’s amazing! You couldn’t before.”

See what I mean?

For six months, I had been working to get my body back in some sort of shape after a bout with lymphoma and a concurrent rebuild of my upper back because of damage from the tumor. I was declared in remission last July — a happy day to be sure — but I’d lost 30 pounds and almost all my muscle tone during the six-month chemo protocol: too much time on my back; too little time moving. I’m in my 70s, and it didn’t take long for me to realize the road to full recovery would be long.

When I began my comeback in July, the slightest exercise made me stiff and sore. Getting out of bed required pushing off the wall into a seated position. My oncologist, Dr. Mike Martin of West Clinic, said my condition was a common one following chemo treatment and that I needed to begin — slowly — working to strengthen my stomach and back muscles.

anks to the fact that I have two very persistent dogs, I resumed walking every day last summer, mostly in Overton Park. When I began, I was winded after 15 minutes, but

after three months, I worked my way up to a brisk 35-40 minutes with no stress. Progress! I also began something of a fitness regime at home: pushups (at first, from my knees), leg lifts, stretches, sit-ups. As hair returned to my head, strength began to return to my muscles.

What about playing golf again?

I used to play at least once a week, but my golf-friends and I got out of the habit during the pandemic. ey still play, though less frequently. Now that Covid is a lesser concern and cancer is in my rearview, I began thinking maybe it was time to get myself out on the links again. Perhaps golf could even be a way to accelerate my physical recovery.

Feeling frisky in early January, I tried swinging a 5-iron 100 times. e next morning, the pain in my lower back was nearly intolerable. It was obvious that I would need golf-specific exercises.

I checked in with Dr. Google and found lots of interesting connections between golf and fitness. I learned that golf is often used to rehabilitate people from addiction: “Since golf is a type of exercise that enhances the release

Bruce VanWyngarden

of endorphins, it becomes an effective way for patients to recover from substance abuse disorders,” claims a site called Healthy Life Recovery. And I learned, from the same source, that golf is used in the treatment of some mental health disorders: “Golfing enables patients to form and foster cordial relationships based on shared interests, a crucial factor for mental health recovery.”

Hansen’s exercises are easily done at home on a carpet or yoga mat and focus mostly on strengthening lower back muscles, stretching and turning the torso, strengthening the knees and thighs, and my favorite, “firing your glutes.” Frankly, mine should have been fired a long time ago. I jest.

All good to know, but what about getting my ancient body back in shape to make a full swing at a golf ball and not embarrass myself in front of my friends? You know, the physical stuff (and the pride stuff). As I’d learned the hard way, golf puts a lot of stress on the back muscles. is paragraph from a golf-instruction website sums it up: “The athletic, correct golf swing is a total body movement that requires flexibility, mobility, and stability in a wide range of joints. Utilizing the ground for a powerful hip extension through the shot along with pulling left and delaying release of the clubhead puts a great amount of strain on the body. at is the swing most of us are searching for.”

ere’s a huge body of literature online on the subject of how to get your body in “golf shape,” and lots of instructional-video options: “Best Back Exercises for Golfers,” “Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Back While Golfing,” “Rehabilitation of the Back for Golfers.” e list goes on longer than a Dustin Johnson tee shot.

Ieventually settled on Coach Mike Hansen has a lo-fi approach, and looks a little lumpy, like the kind of guy who’s not going to be too judgy, even if he can’t see me. He clearly lays out the issues for senior golfers, and for those trying to return to playing golf after injury or illness. I qualified on both counts.

e three major issues that Hansen addresses are, yep, flexibility, mobility, and stability. If we can improve those three areas, he says, we’ll be well underway to fi nding a real golf swing again. Hansen’s exercises are easily done at home on a carpet or yoga

This agent of exceptional character has joined our firm.

mat and focus mostly on strengthening lower back muscles, stretching and turning the torso, strengthening the knees and thighs, and my favorite, “firing your glutes.” Frankly, mine should have been fired a long time ago. I jest. But anyway, yes, strengthening your butt muscles is important.

After a couple of weeks, I was swinging that 5-iron 100 times a day with no pain cropping up. I still couldn’t turn into a complete backswing because of the reconstruction of my upper spine, but I felt like maybe I was ready to try the real thing — with a ball. I enlisted my cynical friend John and we drove out to Mirimichi Golf Course and each bought a big bucket of balls to hit on the practice range.

As I rolled a shiny, white Pinnacle into position on the astroturf practice mat with my trusty 5-iron, I got a little nervous. I was worried I might be unable to hit the ball straight with my shortened swing, or worse, shank it horribly. It was my first time on a golf course in 16 months.

I said something to John about not feeling comfortable over the ball and he said, “Just swing smooth and easy and try to make contact. You don’t have to kill it.”

He was right. I focused on just hitting the ball and took what felt like a half-speed swing. I was elated to see the white pellet fly straight, and to feel the joy of flushing a shot right in the middle of the clubface. I hit the remainder of the bucket of balls, maybe 75 or so. Sure, I hit some clunkers, but I hit enough good shots with my new, easy swing that I was eager to try the real thing.

Playing a round of golf is, of course, much different than hitting balls from a mat. ere is grass and dirt and trees and water and sand, all of which delight in diverting golf balls from their mission of falling into a hole on a green. I drove to the Links of Riverside on a Sunday afternoon in late February for my fi rst test. Riverside is, to be honest, a goat track, a rundown muni managed by the city of Memphis. I figured I’d be able to play by myself with no issues. But nope. As I drove my cart to the first tee, a single golfer was preparing to hit. “Hey,” he said, cheerfully, “Want to play together?”

e guy looked to be about my age and was playing from the old-man tees, so how bad could it be, I thought. “Sure,” I said, “but I have to warn you I haven’t played in more than a year, so I might slow you up.” No worries, he said.

And there weren’t any. We had a great time and I didn’t embarrass myself. After the round, we had a beer in the clubhouse and agreed to play again. I’d made a new friend and was back in the swing of things. You might even say I was rehabbed. Huzzah.



or more than a decade,  Memphis Magazine has celebrated a group of CEOs every year, recognizing visionaries and executives who go above and beyond to elevate their companies and their community. And every year, we gather these leaders at a sponsored awards breakfast to honor them in front of their peers and the community.

The challenge is in deciding which of them should receive the honor. Memphis is bold, creative, and forward-thinking, so those who are selected by magazine staff members do more than lead a successful organization. We like to see leaders that value innovation, who pay particular attention to the welfare and treatment of employees, and who give back to the community. It is these efforts that make a difference, and these results that provide a reason to celebrate.

The awards breakfast is April 16th from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Hardin Hall at Memphis Botanic Garden. Prices are $200 for a table of 10 or $30 per ticket. Tickets are at



T here’s been two history books written about Orgill,” says Boyden Moore, CEO of Orgill. “The first one was written in 1947 for their hundred-year anniversary, and the second one was written in 1997 for their 150th anniversary.”

Orgill, Inc. is not only the oldest company in Memphis, it’s the oldest company in Tennessee — a fact which Moore attributes to the wisdom of his forbears. “It’s a 177-year-old, family-owned business,” he says. “It has been a story of survival. They were here through the Civil War. They were here through the yellow fever epidemic. They never shut their doors; they stayed open the entire time taking care of customers … Orgill’s been true to who they are for a long time and has had to adapt to be successful through 177 years. You can imagine how many different products have come and gone that we’ve distributed.”

Orgill was surprised when he learned he was only the ninth president in the company’s long history. “So throughout all of that time,” he says, “there’s been a steady hand of leadership at Orgill that’s led things through. To me, it’s a huge responsibility.”

William Orgill, who founded the company in 1847, was an English hardware salesman. For decades,



the company sold directly to consumers before moving into purely wholesale distribution in 1908. “We serve the home-improvement industry,” says Moore. “Home Depot and Lowe’s, who we do not serve, make up about half the industry. The other half is composed of 32,000 small, independent hardware stores, home centers, lumber yards, and farm stores all across the country. We ship to just over 13,000 of those 32,000 in all 50 states. We have customers in all provinces and territories of Canada, and about 50 additional countries as well.”

When Moore moved to Memphis in 2011, his mission was to break back into retail. “We were starting up a new business, called Central Network Retail Group. Orgill was investing in that, and ultimately bought that company as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2017.”

Orgill’s 147 retail stores now employ about half of the 7,000 people who work for the company. Moore ascended to CEO on the strength of that growth, taking the job in January 2020 — just in time to lead the company through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Like everyone else, we’re concerned about safety and prioritize safety,” he says. “The industry we serve was a critical industry

to the health and sanitation of the home. So those stores didn’t close. You had to learn how to take care of customers and minimize the potential spread of Covid. Safety protocols changed, but we came to work every day. We had to do what we had to do.”

But what also changed for Orgill was an extraordinary surge in demand for the products the company sold. “As everybody spent more time at home, they spent more money on their home, and they couldn’t spend it on other things,” Moore says. “In 2019, [Orgill] did $2.5 billion [in revenue.] Three years later, we’d grown 50 percent to 3.7 billion. So it was huge, huge growth to manage while we were also trying to figure out how to keep everybody safe.”

Moore made sure the company continued to prioritize its customers through the crisis, a decision he says has paid off handsomely. “Supply chains became very, very difficult — getting people what they need when they needed it became more of a challenge. I couldn’t be more proud of how our team worked through all that. I think that a lot of the success we’ve had in the last two years has been driven by how well we responded for our customers, which also attracted new business to us as well.”

As he leads his company through a post-pandemic world of radically changed operating environments, Moore believes the secret to Orgill’s long history of success in business is old-fashioned teamwork.

“I’m honored to be recognized for CEO of the Year, but the truth of the matter is, it’s really the team that makes everything happen. I feel like I’m the least important person to making Orgill successful. But I’ve been blessed with a great team, both through the years, and the one that I inherited that was already here,” he says. “Whoever’s taking care of our customers every day, face-to-face, shoulder to shoulder in their stores, is really the most important person in our business. They’re the ones who make us succeed or fail.

“One of the fun things about Orgill is serving the small businesses that we serve,” he continues. “Our mission is to help our customers be successful. We believe that if they’re successful, then we have a chance at being successful as well. It’s just fun to help small businesses succeed. That’s kind of a call that you answer when you get up in the morning. It makes you feel good about going to work.” — Chris McCoy


“I’m honored to be recognized for CEO of the Year, but the truth of the matter is, it’s really the team that makes everything happen. Whoever’s taking care of our customers every day, face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder in their stores, is really the most important person in our business. They’re the ones who make us succeed or fail.”




When she was in her twenties, Pat Mitchell Worley was asked where her dream job would be. “The Soulsville Foundation,” she replied. “That was where I could …” and here she belts out a note with a fine vibrato and a big smile.

At the time, she imagined the dream job would be something in communications. “My work was in that and public relations and I saw myself continuing on that track.” Her mother’s family founded the Defender newspaper chain and her grandfather was the Tri-State Defender’s editor, so she was in it from a young age. “Media was one of the things that I wanted to do in life,” she says. “And I had this dream that by the time I finished my career, I knew that I wanted to host a TV show, be on the radio, do PR for bands. And I figured it would take me my whole career to do these things.”

But she was on a faster track than she expected, and by age 30, had done all those things. “And I wondered what I was going to do next,” she says. “My goal and my promise to myself was to find jobs where I believed in what I did and got to learn new things.”

She kept that promise. Mitchell Worley worked at ARTSmemphis, the International Blues Foundation, the Memphis Music Foundation, Memphis in May, and MPACT


Memphis, broadening her experiences and expanding her network in several areas of the cultural community. She has been co-host since 1998 of the syndicated roots radio show Beale Street Caravan.

In her consulting work, she had Stax as a client and loved working with the organization. And just as she’d hoped, the dream job happened. She served as executive director of the Stax Music Academy from 2018 to 2022 and then was named CEO of the Soulsville Foundation.

The foundation is the parent organization for the Stax Museum, the Stax Music Academy, and the Soulsville Charter School. “Preserving the history is very important,” Mitchell Worley says. “It’s not just ‘Hey, we have a school,’ but the school is academic prep, the music academy is music education, and the museum educates by telling the story and making it relevant to today. We’re inspiring the next generation to carry on this Memphis sound.”

While the activities of the organization’s various components are well known locally, plenty of the work is less recognized. It’s well known that since the first graduating class in 2012, 100 percent of seniors at the Soulsville Charter School have been accepted to college or post-secondary educational

institutions. “But what doesn’t get attention is that we help them find scholarships to pay for school,” Mitchell Worley says. “We’re helping them find the way to pay for that college experience. And that, to me, means so much more.”

And it goes even further. “We stay with our students after graduation because it’s hard trying to adult when you’re just barely an adult. For a lot of our students, they’re still trying to adult and they don’t know where to turn or deal with something. For some, their parents don’t even know how to deal with it. So, we give them another voice, someone else that they can turn to that they can try to figure out a path.”

Mitchell Worley points out a newly commencing program that will benefit students. “We’ll be launching a certificate program for arts and entertainment production jobs,” she says. “We’ve been doing placements of our students and our alumni and getting them gigs. Many people call us when they’re looking for somebody to run this program, or a church needs a sound guy or someone has a TV ministry, or someone else needs a camera person. Now we’re taking that next step and certifying them and providing something that speaks to their knowledge.”

It’s all part of a growing and

inclusive effort to make the most of the resource on McLemore Avenue. “After years of involvement in music in Memphis, this space is the past, the present, and the future of Memphis music. It’s all right here on this corner and there are so many opportunities that are available to us.”

Mitchell Worley is energized about heading the organization and, like a true leader, points at the group that keeps it going. “We have a team of people that are passionate about the work that they do, that are passionate about the place that we’re in,” she says. “And that makes my job 10 times easier because everybody who’s here wants to be here and they want to contribute to the Stax Records legacy.”

Now she is carrying out her dream job with a clear sense of what she’s contributing. “I see my work here as part of the tapestry of our city’s amazing story,” she says, “with all these characters and what they were able to accomplish. I get to put a stitch in it, and that is rewarding. But I’m probably most thankful for all those people who gave a loud, brash, heavy-metal loving smartass an opportunity. They ignored all that and saw some potential and gave me their time and their energy and their love.”

“We have a team of people that are passionate about the work that they do, that are passionate about the place that we’re in. And that makes my job 10 times easier because everybody who’s here wants to be here and they want to contribute to the Stax Records legacy.”



D wayne Spencer likes to dream. Growing up in Somerville, Tennessee, Spencer’s family knew poverty. He shared a small home with his mother, grandmother, and younger sister. The house had no indoor plumbing but it did have the electricity that helped provide fuel for Spencer’s early dreaming: classic movies. “I loved It’s a Wonderful Life and Gone with the Wind,” says Spencer, CEO for more than two decades now of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. “Those movies were a big event. Everybody could watch them, in prime time. I would wait for those nights. I was always dreaming about something outside [my current] place.”

Trauma struck when Spencer was 16 as a fire destroyed his home while his family was visiting an aunt in Memphis. “It was a total burnout, a wiring issue,” explains Spencer. “We had been there two nights before. Who knows what would have happened? It was a turning point, as far as getting ourselves out of poverty housing. We had no choice but to do something different. What felt like the worst day of my life turned into something much

more profound, and an opportunity.” Spencer gained a room of his own for the first time in their new apartment in Brownsville.

Fast-forward to 2001 when Spencer was hired to lead the local Habitat affiliate, and he got a room of his own then, too: a CEO’s office. “I admired this organization, and thought about the possibility of working here,” he says. “I’d dream about what it would be like to actually lead the organization, starting in a fund-raising role. The dreaming part of me really helped me get the job. I shared a vision [during my interview], and that’s what I’m living out today.” Fun fact: Spencer had applied for a fund-raising job with Habitat a few years earlier, and was not hired. A dream merely delayed.

Upon taking charge — Habitat had nine employees at the time — Spencer emphasized two components for the nonprofit’s growth: storytelling and the dispelling of myths. “Storytelling helps people understand your goals and the things that get in the way of you getting there,” notes Spencer. “And a lot of people, still today, think we give houses away. There’s a mortgage, there’s just no interest.

That’s how we make a home affordable for low- to moderate-income folks. We’re providing an opportunity around affordability. So much of wealth is tied up in owning a home. Every [house] payment is to the benefit of your future.”

When asked about his leadership style, Spencer reflects on his days as a mail clerk with John Malmo Advertising. He would sometimes see Mr. Malmo himself kneel down to pick up a stray piece of trash that had found its way to the office floor. Example matters, even when few people may notice. Today, Spencer oversees a workforce that will soon number 100, so plenty of people are, in fact, noticing. “Had I not grown up in the organization,” he emphasizes, “and seen all the strategies that worked when it was a small organization — and dreaming about the kinds of things we could do more broadly — I don’t know if I could do it. I’ve learned so much along the way. It’s experiential.”

What quality does Spencer measure first in new employees? “Attitude,” he says. “Congenial. Someone who’s not egotistical, feels like they know it all. Not too

loud. Someone who will listen and be part of a joint effort to get things done. If you have a disruptor, it’s hard to get things done. I want to believe in everyone until you give me a reason not to.”

Habitat for Humanity will build its 600th home in Shelby County this year, a staggering number until you consider that, yes, dreaming is in the mix. Including the dreams of one Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States who has made the cause a priority since he left the White House in 1981. Spencer refuses to compare himself with Carter, but has absorbed some values from the Nobel Peace Prize winner that help in his continuing growth as a CEO.

“A person with his stature in the world could have retreated,” says Spencer. “He might never have raised his hand or his voice, or used his position to do anything. Instead, he decided to devote his life to helping people have a better place to live. I love the idea of emulating him. I get paid to do my job. But we get paid to do good for other people. I want to build and repair as many homes as we can. It’s this big dream.” —


“Storytelling helps people understand your goals and the things that get in the way of you getting there. And a lot of people, still today, think we give houses away. There’s a mortgage, there’s just no interest. That’s how we make a home affordable for low- to moderate-income folks. We’re providing an opportunity around affordability. So much of wealth is tied up in owning a home. Every [house] payment is to the benefit of your future.”


R ick James treasures a photo of when he first came to Memphis in 1987 to work for the grocery business Malone & Hyde. The picture shows him being welcomed to town by Malone & Hyde owner Pitt Hyde and longtime Memphis entrepreneur Art Seessel. “They were revered by those of us in the grocery business,” he says, still with awe in his voice.

It was the beginning of James’ Memphis experience in the grocery business, one that has thrived with innovation and a keen sense of community. And recognition for his work continues. He was recently chosen by the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association as its 2024 Retailer of the Year. What he brought to Memphis was plenty of experience, starting when he persuaded the grocer in his hometown of Union, Missouri that even though he was technically 15 years old, he was in his 16th year and thus was eligible to be employed sacking groceries. The grocer was amused and hired him on the spot.

James was an observer and learned quickly. He also had an aptitude for math and decided to major in accounting at Morehead State University with an eye to settle in with one of the big-numbers firms. But the dean of the business school pulled him aside and asked why he hadn’t signed up for an



interview with Kroger for store management. “You think they don’t have accountants at Kroger?” the dean asked.

He interviewed and got the job, but his junior accountant buddies were puzzled that he worked in a grocery store. He told them, “I’m a human resource manager. I’m a counselor. I have to understand union contracts. I’m an engineer. I have to understand how to see what’s wrong with this compressor. I have to be a time-study expert in scheduling and a community customer service liaison to the customers and store sanitation and food safety. There’s so much going on that it’s fun and it’s fast and the days go by quickly.”

James, at 21, went on to become the youngest store manager in the Kroger company at the time. And the degree in accounting came in handy, so much so that he tells aspiring entrepreneurs that they should go for it. “You’ve got to know where the money is,” he says. He could read operating statements and use that knowledge to resurrect underperforming stores.

When James finally acknowledged he wasn’t likely to become CEO of Kroger, he allowed himself to be recruited to Malone & Hyde. That job was as a retail counselor and he traveled all over the region to grocery stores large and small. He loved it. He’d listen to the sto-

ries of these independent grocers and get to know not only what they needed, but who they were and how they liked to do things.

As James got more into the grocery business and the community, he decided to work for Lex Sewell and Dan Allen, who were buying stores in the area, including Piggly Wigglys, Big Stars, and Food Rites. In the early 1990s, the owners made James president of Sewell-Allen. A few years later, after Sewell died and Allen decided to retire, James helped sell off some of their 15 stores, but acquired four of them.

The resulting company, Castle Retail Group, is very much a family affair. In fact, Castle is an acronym of his wife and children’s names: Cathy, Addie, Sarah, Taylor, Lauren, and Eric. And 2024 marks the company’s 20th anniversary with three Cash Saver stores, High Point Grocery, and South Point Grocery. “That’s huge to me,” says James. “We have about 25 employees that have been with us since day one that are still here, and I’m excited we’re going to honor them and what they’ve done to make it work.”

But making it work is also the job of the CEO, and James stays mindful of what he observed years ago. He saw in the big corporate world how higher-ups would issue orders on what the stores would be required to do next. And he saw how sometimes there was pushback

from team members who wanted to understand why.

“You can’t just throw the paper down on the desk and say, ‘do this.’ They won’t stand for it,” he says. “I thought to myself, if I’m ever in this position where I’m that guy and I’m making decisions and I’m calling shots, then the one thing I’m not going to do is take away decisions that most affect the customer from the person who is closest to the customer.”

His three Cash Saver stores use the “Cost + 10%” formula to price most store items, a way to keep the grocery bill low. James also owns a couple of smaller stores that fit neatly into the kind of neighborhood business model that he admires.

One such independent store is High Point Grocery, a family business previously owned by Charles Shirley, with whom James had worked for years. Just after the Covid pandemic started, Shirley decided to sell the store, so in 2020, James made the acquisition and modernized it without sacrificing the mom-and-pop feel.

And then in 2022, he opened the South Point Grocery on South Main, bringing a much-needed presence Downtown. He partnered with contractor Tom Archer to restore a historic building and establish a full-service grocery store. And he reflects on its success: “I’ve never had so many five-star Google reviews in my life. They’re fun to read.” — Jon W. Sparks


“You can’t just throw the paper down on the desk and say, ‘Do this.’ They won’t stand for it. I thought to myself, if I’m ever in this position where I’m that guy and I’m making decisions and I’m calling shots, then the one thing I’m not going to do is take away decisions that most affect the customer from the person who is closest to the customer.”





left: Piper Dandy and Josh Shipp’s colorful home is full of pop culture memorabilia, toys, and collectibles. Trawling estate sales and antique malls for unique and overlooked items is their shared passion.

top: The home is full of easter eggs, little details meant to elicit a moment of recognition for guests. The couch’s throw cushions match the carpet in the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The image on the television is the stained glass unicorn window from Dandy’s dressing room. above: The wall of Dandy’s dressing room reveals her Star Trek obsession.

T he exterior of Piper Dandy and Josh Shipp’s home is unassuming and nondescript. The 3,000-squarefoot, mid-century ranch house looks like the other homes in its Whitehaven neighborhood. But as soon as you step beyond the front door, the ordinariness evaporates.

“When someone comes in, like the Comcast guy, they’re always like, ‘Whoa!’” says Shipp. “It gets a reaction every time, because the outside looks so normal.”

The inside is far from normal. Dandy and Shipp are both avid collectors of pop-culture memorabilia, toys, and comics. Every room in their home is designed around their mutual obsession. Some collectors hide their items away in storage units, attics, or garages, waiting patiently for the pieces’ monetary value to appreciate. Dandy and Shipp want to keep their treasures in sight, where they can enjoy them, show them off, and play with them. Even though every available bit of wall and shelf space is filled with action figures, artwork, and toy spaceships, their home still doesn’t contain the full breadth of their collections. This is just the good stuff.

“We keep everything, but we’re not hoarders,” says Dandy. “The garage is full of stuff we want to get rid of!,” says Shipp.

Both say their nerdy obsessions began when they were children, and never really ended. “My parents definitely instigated that,” says Shipp. “They nurtured that side of me. My mom is an artist, so I got a lot of that from her. My dad was a sci-fi nerd.”

Dandy’s father is James “Jim Dandy” Mangrum, the influential, often controversial, lead singer of 1970s hard rockers Black Oak Arkansas. His RIAA-certified gold records now adorn a wall in the living room. “Growing up in the conservative South,” she says, “without the ability to really have friends, because everybody’s like, ‘Her dad’s the devil! Don’t go over to her house!’, you kind of live in your mind. You get a lot of creativity.”

The couple met in 2018 when the tattoo shop where Shipp worked had a comics and toys sale, so naturally, Dandy stopped in. She says the first time she visited Shipp’s apartment, she knew she had found someone special.

“Every place I’ve ever lived in has been like this — Dopamine Decor, 110

percent,” she says. “My dad calls it ‘Piper Dandy’s Playhouse.’ It’s been loud and proud and ready to rock-and-roll the whole time I’ve been able to live on my own. When I first met [Shipp], I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s so fancy in here!’ I remember telling my friends, ‘His house is like my house if I had money.’ Everything was professionally framed and super nice. … To me, it’s proof you can have nice things, but also have a personality and not be Crate & Barrel to the max.”

Shipp says he had a similar reaction when he saw Dandy’s domicile. “That’s how it was when I went to her apartment the first time. She had all her stuff framed, and I was used to that part of it. As far as the crazy paint schemes, I had dabbled in that a little bit, with some primary colors in my and my ex-wife’s house, but it was limited to a couple rooms. Everything else was your standard light-gray.”

The Stained-Glass Unicorn

Last year, when rising rents in Bartlett forced the couple to rethink their living situation and buy their own house together, they knew the place they settled on was in for a complete, and unique, renovation. They enlisted realtor Luci Gann from The Firm, an old friend of Dandy’s, to help them find a new home.

“We saw a bunch of duds,” Dandy recalls. “Then Luci said, ‘I think you’re going to like this one.’ We came here, and I was like, ‘Search no further! This is our house!’… I love mid-century architecture, first of all, and the slanted windows had me from day one”

But it was another window that sealed the deal. In what is now Dandy’s dressing room, the former owners were leaving behind a stained-glass window depicting a unicorn. “Well, I don’t care if it’s a million dollars,” she told Gann. “This is my house. We’re going to figure it out. Luci fought real hard for us to get this place.”

Then came the real work. The couple did most of the renovation themselves, with a little help from family and friends. “It was a few weeks of getting stuff prepped,” says Shipp. “We took out a lot of linoleum. The kitchen floor took me, my dad, and my brother a week to do. We tried so hard. It had a really cool broken-brick, old-school terracotta vibe to it. But once we pulled it up to restore it, it splintered, because they made


above: Dandy calls her style Dopamine Decor. She used “the Wobble” pattern to make the door to her walk-in closet feel like the door to another world.

above right: The Star Warsthemed bedroom features a mixture of vintage pieces, like the circa-1978 comforter on the bed, and reproductions, like the Pottery Barn sheets and pillowcases. The Death Star on the wall is a rug repurposed as a tapestry.

right: Three gold records on the living room wall belong to Jim Dandy, Piper’s father, who is the lead singer of 1970s hard rockers Black Oak Arkansas.

center: The all-black kitchen features handmade eyeball cabinet pulls and jello molds inspired by The Simpsons.

the subflooring with particle board, and they had glued and nailed it.”

They sealed the floors they couldn’t save with epoxy and paint. “Epoxy became our best friend,” says Dandy.

The granite countertops didn’t fit the new color scheme, she says, so “I did black epoxy. I got opalescent glitter and blew it from my hand. It spread perfectly. That’s all of our countertops. It came with hideous brown cabinets, so we just went ahead and painted them a monochrome black with everything else. And then I put the Wobble on the top.”

“The Wobble” is what Dandy calls the wavy border between two colors which appears in a few places in the house. In the home’s riot of colors, it serves as a kind of visual signature. “I just did it out of nowhere one day when I decided I didn’t want a harsh line,” she says.

The Wobble finds its ultimate use in Dandy’s brightly colored dressing room, where she used the pattern to suggest a portal opening into her walk-in closet. “I wanted to do something different to the house that was creative, but wasn’t so overdone. So, I didn’t want a normal little rainbow trim, but I also didn’t want a [single] color on the inside of the arch. I was like, I’m just going to obble it, because, you know, how do you mess that up? You don’t.”

The Menagerie

“We’re a house divided,” says Dandy. “I’m Team Trek, and he’s Star Wars.”

“I have pictures of me as a toddler dressed as Luke Skywalker,” says Shipp.

“I love the original [Star Trek] series, of course,” says Dandy. “But Voyager is my shining light.”

“This seems like a good

segue into your collecting … uh, problem,” I say.

“Is it a problem, or is it a solution?” says Dandy with a laugh. “I say it’s a solution. It’s my money. I can spend it however I want. I haven’t murdered anyone. It keeps me out of trouble.”

“Credit card companies love us!” says Shipp.

Walking through the house, visitors catch the stern visage of Captain Kirk gazing at them from unexpected angles. Models of the starship Enterprise — big, small, and in-between — are displayed alongside Klingon Vor’Cha class cruisers and Romulan Birds of Prey. A rare Telosian alien from Dandy’s favorite episode, “The Menagerie,” occupies a place of honor in the living room. In Dandy’s workshop, a lenticular print of the Enterprise transporter room makes Kirk and Spock appear and disappear depending on your


viewing angle. A vintage Star Trek sleeping bag from the 1960s adorns the wall as a tapestry.

Shipp’s childhood toys form the core of his Star Wars collection, but it has grown much, much larger over the years. The most heavily merchandised film franchise of all time is well-represented here with hundreds of items. The walls of the “trophy room” are lined with boxed action figures, all hung for display. There are dioramas of the Tatooine cantina booth where Han Solo and Chewbacca met Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and of the hallway in Princess Leia’s spaceship Tantive IV where we first see R2-D2 and C-3PO.

But the collection is much more varied than just items from the two biggest science fiction film and TV franchises. “It’s not just sci-fi. We say pop culture,”

says Dandy. “We love to leave ‘Easter eggs’ in the house.”

There’s a handmade, handshaped chair, a reproduction of a famous design from the swinging ’70s. The custom-made (Etsy-sourced) pulls on the kitchen cabinet doors are shaped like eyeballs. Leaning against the kitchen wall is an 8-foot-tall … toothbrush. It was an advertising display that Shipp rescued from a Kmart dumpster when he was 17. “I love things that are comically large and comically small,” says Dandy.

Next to it is a rolling cooler whose sides are formed by giant Snickers bars. Dandy says she was searching for that piece ever since she caught a glimpse of one on TikTok. Eventually, they found a near-mint-condition unit for sale by an Arkansas gas station owner. When they arrived, the seller honored the agreed-upon

price of $50, but said he had been bombarded by inquiries ever since he had listed the item for sale.

How much is it really worth? “It’s got all its wheels, so probably somewhere between $250 and $500,” Shipp says.

That’s the couple’s passion in a nutshell: It’s all about the thrill of the chase. Their weekends are spent trawling estate sales (“We’ll drive hours to go to fun ones,” Dandy says), thrift stores, and antique malls, looking for under-appreciated pop-culture ephemera.

Dandy sells her own creations on the crafter’s website Etsy (her handle: PiPerDanDysraDCraP). She has attracted a social media following as she documented their home’s transformation the past year. “Dopamine Decor is a whole decorating subculture,” Dandy says. “It’s just whatever makes you happy.”

a minefield. Above: A life-sized Yoda seems ready to dispense wisdom on the purple fireplace. left: This corner highlights the eclectic nature of the collection, with a hand chair, a Beetlejuice sign, a velvet Elvis, and Boglins puppets.

top left: The larger pieces in the collection are displayed in the Trophy Room, including Star Wars-themed dioramas and comic book cover art. Shipp rejuvenated the room by pulling up the former owner’s berber carpet and adding paint, glitter, and sealant so the floor resembles

Arkansas & THE GeOgraphy ofTHE Invisible.



If Arkansas is known as “ The Natural State” — for good reason — keep in mind that its expanses of wild terrain, its mountains, fields, and meadows, are only part of the story. e sheer beauty of the state’s famous parks and trails can obscure more subtle dimensions that lie just beyond vision’s reach. Case in point: My most recent foray into Arkansas, ranging from scenic Hot Springs to the farmlands of Mississippi County, gave me a new appreciation of the flows beneath the surface and the reverberations in the air, quite aside from any spectacular views. More than ever before, my thoughts turned to rivers and lakes not noted on most maps, yet flowing beneath us, unseen in the very bedrock below.

And there were other invisible forces at work. I kept encountering those flowing sound waves that strike our ears, collectively known as music — a power emanating so prolifically from the Natural State that it’s sometimes referred to as “Arkansong.” And so through its waters and its melodies, a whole new dimension of the state emerged: a geography of the invisible.

Such a landscape resonated well with my anticipation of that ultimate expression of things hidden from view, the total eclipse of the sun on April 8th. On that day, a wide swath of Arkansas will be in the path of totality, in complete shadow. Within that hundred-mile-wide band ranging from the northeast to the southwest corners of the state, after the moon’s disc creeps across the face of the sun for over an hour, gradually dimming the day, it will, for over three minutes, completely block all direct sunlight. Afternoon will turn to night, birds will fall silent, crickets will chirp. And then the moon will just as gradually move along and daylight will resume. For those who watch — and those who listen — those three minutes of darkness will be magical.

Instead of opting for one of the posh establishments along Bathhouse Row, I settled into e Happy Hollow, a quaint resort motel from the 1950s situated off the main drag. From my room, I could see vehicles pull up to Happy Hollow Spring day and night, as people refilled their jugs like pilgrims seeking holy water. It’s one of a handful of cold springs access points in the area, each offering water of a slightly different pH level.

Hot Springs Mountain loomed across the street. Its wooded slopes dominate the center of town, jutting from the heart of Hot Springs National Park like a gigantic fountain itself, streaked with brooks and rivulets that seem to sing. I threw down my bags and headed up the trail, crossing many trickling waters, to the observation tower at the mount’s summit, with views of 140 square miles in every direction. I imagined the water coursing unseen beneath those distant hills before rising to the surface just below me.


With the eclipse in mind, I was predisposed to appreciate all that’s obscured or hidden in nature as I wound through the Ouachita Mountains to that iconic epicenter of hidden flows, Hot Springs. Knowing the old resort town would be in the path of totality, I wanted to get a feeling for the place before making the trip there in April.



Over four millennia, ancient rainwater has been seeping down thousands of feet through fissures in the rock, its temperature rising the deeper it goes (though here not due to magma or sulfur deposits, as with some hot springs, but from the heat of the earth’s mantle). By the time the flows reach a fault line on the west edge of Hot Springs Mountain, the waters are propelled upward to the surface, at an average temperature of 143 degrees Fahrenheit. And there it at last emerges, visible in the park’s hot water cascade or the public fountains that dot the sidewalks along Bathhouse Row.

Such fountains are the legacy of federal efforts to contain

page, top to bottom: The 2017 total solar eclipse was also visible across North America (PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA). An aerial view of Hot Springs (PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIEL THIBODEAUX / DREAMSTIME). A cascading waterfall in Hot Springs National Park (PHOTOGRAPH BY ZRFPHOTO / DREAMSTIME). A hydrological map tracing the (visible) waterways of Arkansas (ILLUSTRATION BY MUIR WAY). The path of the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. An even wider swath will experience a partial eclipse. (MAP COURTESY ATLAS OBSCURA )

above: On Bathhouse Row, the eternal gangster Al Capone perpetually reclines outside the Ohio Club during a mountain hail storm. center: Rainwater from 4,000 years ago flows through the vintage faucets of Hot Springs’ spas.

below: Astral Spaat Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort offers twenty-first-century luxury.

and protect the springs, beginning in 1832. It was the first federal reservation of its kind — national parks did not yet exist, nor did the Department of the Interior, nor did the state of Arkansas. Ultimately, just after the turn of the century, the springs were enclosed and the water distributed to various bathhouses that had cropped up by then. Over the course of the twentieth century, eight palatial spas came to dominate Bathhouse Row, making Hot Springs a Mecca for health enthusiasts, baseball teams in training, and even gangsters.

Imagining all that thermal power flowing through the rock beneath me, I resolved to test the healing waters myself and headed downhill to the Buckstaff Bathhouse, built in 1912. While eight of the ornate stone bathhouses have survived, most of them serve other uses now; the Buckstaff is the only one to have operated continuously for over a century. As I checked in and entered the spa area, every detail conjured up a bygone age, from the laconic, friendly manner of my attendant, Bobby (a Hot Springs native), to the steel pipes sprouting from the tile, to the sound of burbling faucets behind every curtain and chamber.

Immersing yourself in that pure mountain water, its heat and provenance seem to

connect you directly to the earth’s core — and to your own interior musings. At such times, closing one’s eyes, one has a keen appreciation of the invisible. But there’s more to it than your typical hot tub. A century of tradition has provided a series of stations for one to move through for the full spa experience: first the tub, then the sitz bath, and thence to the very Victorian vapor cabinet, its fitted metal doors closing snugly around your neck as steam is piped around your body. en, after being wrapped on a hot pack table, Swedish massages, manicures, pedicures, and facials are available. is is one tourist attraction that’s most thoroughly enjoyed with your eyes closed.

By then I was feeling like royalty — or a Godfather, perhaps? I imagined Al Capone musing over his empire, wrapped in a towel. Yet it struck me that a true big shot would want an even more posh experience in today’s world, such as that offered by the Astral Spa at the nearby Oaklawn horse track, casino, and hotel. Al Capone, or Queen Victoria, for that matter, wouldn’t want just a facial: ey would want a “hydrafacial,” a “triple crown luxury facial,” or a “gift of glow brightening facial.” ey might even opt for a Himalayan stone massage, or a mother-to-be massage, perhaps followed by a rose quartz manicure.

All of which made me want to learn more about the real kingpins who’d once enjoyed that royal treatment, so I headed over to the Gangster Museum of America, where I found something unexpected: music. Ownie Madden, the first gangster of note to settle in Hot Springs during Prohibition, had previously founded the Cotton Club in New York, a connection which started the long tradition of jazz luminaries playing in the hills of Arkansas when he relocated. e museum’s playbills and posters, stretching from the early days of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra to mid-century stars like Kay Starr or George Shearing, made it clear that Hot Springs was really swinging, especially at the renowned club known as e Vapors, now recently ren-

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ovated and back in business.

Music still fills the air in Hot Springs, from the buskers’ trumpets, guitars, and accordions on the street to venues like the Ohio Club, the oldest continuously operating bar in Arkansas. On nearly every ursday, a trio featuring pianist Clyde Pound (who played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Maynard Ferguson) keeps swing alive in the city with classic jazz standards. (Many other notable players perform at the Hot Springs JazzFest every Labor Day weekend.)

A few blocks down, Maxine’s, a small bar/ restaurant with an adjoining show room, was hosting a drag show during my stay, with singer-songwriters on the following night’s bill. And just a bit further, I snacked on authentic

German cabbage rolls to the sounds of polka at Steinhaus Keller. All babbling brooks aside, the town is bursting with music. ere’s even a top-notch record store in the basement of the famed Arlington Hotel, the Downtown Record & CD Emporium, with some of the finest, rarest vinyl one could hope for.

Even more tonal reverberations will be heard when the eclipse is imminent, leading up to April 8th. At e Happy Hollow, owner Rob Cox, also a DJ on local radio station KUHS and vice president of the nonprofit Low Key Arts, told me about the Valley of the Vapors music festival, held every spring. is year it will be especially ambitious thanks to the involvement of Atlas Obscura, an online magazine and travel company specializing in unusual destinations. ey’re partnering with Low Key Arts to stage the ultimate mix of music, light, and shadow on April 5-8, dubbed the Ecliptic Festival. is event will feature a who’s who of indie hitmakers, from Deerhoof to Blonde Redhead to Shannon & the Clams, but for these ears, the real headliner will be arguably the greatest jazz group in America today, operating continuously since the 1950s, the Sun Ra Arkestra. ough Sun Ra died in 1993, his band carries on his avant garde innovations and so-called “Interplanetary Music.” Given Ra’s fascination with outer space and the sun, hearing his acolytes celebrate totality on April 8th will have a deep historical resonance, and fully capture the eeriness of such a celestial event. (Visit ecliptic. for details.)

Al Capone patiently waits for a piano player to shoot at the Gangster Museum of America.


Rhodes College is consistently recognized as an exceptional place to learn, work, and live, making this year’s rankings no surprise.

U.S. News & World Report

2024 Best Colleges

#56 National Liberal Arts Colleges

#70 Best Value School


One of America’s Best Employers

The Princeton Review

2023 Best Value College

2024 The Best 389 Colleges

Fiske Guide to Colleges

Among the Best and Most Interesting Colleges in the U.S.

Money’s Best Colleges in America 2022

For Quality, Affordability, and Student Outcomes


#13 Among Liberal Arts Colleges for Economic Return

Best Degree Programs

#10 nationally and #1 in Tennessee Among Most Beautiful Best Small Colleges

Southern Living

Among the Most Beautiful College Campuses In The South

Architectural Digest

#30 Prettiest College Campuses in America


Best Colleges in Big U.S. Cities

Billboard Magazine

2023 Top Music Business School


t’s worth remembering that the eclipse affects more than just the path of totality. A partial eclipse will be visible across a much broader swath of America, and while the ensuing darkness won’t be quite as intense (and will require observers to wear protective glasses the whole time), we’ll sense the intersection of heavenly orbs even in Memphis and nearby environs. To see what might be happening closer to home, I left Hot Springs and followed the water’s invisible flow, downhill toward the Mississippi River.

And so I arrived at the county named for that river, another of the Natural State’s hidden gems. e impact of both unseen waters and sound waves has been considerable in the history of Mississippi County, despite its lack of spa-friendly mountains or fountains.

e so-called “sunken lands” along America’s

grandest river were recognized as America’s swampiest region as early as 1850, and that was one reason that a certain Ray and Carrie Cash wound up moving to Mississippi County back in 1935.

e family was selected as participants in the Works Progress Administration’s Dyess Colony, a town built from scratch, which incentivized farm families to clear trees from swampland so they could settle there and farm cotton. Because the Cashes’ son J.R. later went by the name Johnny, his music loved around the world, their house in Dyess is preserved to this day as the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. And throughout his childhood, despite the work of the colony families, the area remained prone to floods. e inundation of 1937 certainly made an impression on young Johnny’s mind — just listen to his song, “Five Feet High and Rising.”

“ e groundwater was only 25 feet deep at the time [the Cash family arrived],” noted my tour guide, Tim Allen (not the actor), adding that eventually efforts to grow cotton on the land declined. “It’s mostly rice farming now,” he said, noting that crop’s need for seasonal flooding. But the young J.R. mostly

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Artist Patsy Clanton's rendering of Johnny Cash’s boyhood home, displayed in the Dyess Colony Visitors Center.
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knew cotton, living in Dyess through his high school years. In a film at the visitor center, his brother Tommy recalls the importance of other waves, those received on the radio antenna and via sounds of its speaker, while growing up, evoked by the vintage Silvertone unit on display there. As Johnny Cash later said, “Nothing in the world was as important to me as hearing those songs on that radio. e music carried me up above the mud, the work, and the hot sun.”

Radio, of course, would play a pivotal role in Johnny’s life: first as a Morse code operator in the Air Force, and later as a pop star. Yet he always carried his time in Mississippi County with him, and with it his sense of what lies below the surface, as a quote in the visitor center reveals: “At a very early age … I was very aware that I was part of nature — that I sprang from the soil.”

Cash wasn’t the only soul inspired by that landscape, as the careers of Mississippi County natives Albert King, Billy Lee Riley, Reggie Young, and Dee Clark attest. ey mostly had to go elsewhere to make their names, but lately that’s changing, especially just down the road in the village of Wilson.

Founded as a company town by logging and cotton magnate Robert Wilson in 1886, it’s now a prime example of how to take planned development in a decidedly epicurean direction. As Steven Ouellette, the Village of Wilson’s vice president of leadership development, culture, and culinary experience, explains, “Gaylon Lawrence Sr. purchased all of the farmland and a lot of the commercial property here about 13 years ago, and we decided to really expand on the hospitality sector.”

at meant revamping the longstanding Wilson Café, but also establishing e Grange, a spacious kitchen, lunch venue, and gift shop in a remodeled warehouse. “It’s all made fresh daily,” Ouellette says of e Grange. “All of the bread, all the desserts, even the ice cream, is made here now, and that’s brought over to the hotel, the café, the golf course, and all of our events.” My mouth being full from enjoying a grilled Cuban sandwich and a slice of fresh pecan pie, I could only nod in enthusiastic affirmation.

As the eclipse draws nigh, Wilson will be especially active. eir Crawfish Festival takes

continued on page 69 ☞

The radio, a centerpiece of the Cash home, opened up new worlds to young Johnny.
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The producer and author of Memphis Mayhem tells his story through the records he’s loved.

First and foremost, David Less is a listener. His sheer love of music propels him through all the milestones on his résumé. And there are many of those, from his prolific publishing history, including the book Memphis Mayhem (reviewed in our November 2020 issue), to his years as a manager, board member, executive director, and/or division president of many corporate and nonprofit groups (including the Blues Foundation), to producing two Grammy-nominated albums, not to mention the soundtrack to an award-winning film, and co-founding Memphis International Records.

In a perfect illustration of “follow your bliss,” he’s become a soughtafter consultant, author, educator, and administrator chiefly by way of chasing the music. Yet all those roles ultimately lead him back to where he’s happiest: in front of his hi-fi stereo in the Central Gardens home he shares with his wife, Angela.

Appropriately enough, that’s where our interview took place, sitting before his high-end Shindo LaFite speakers, each with its own glowing tube preamp, as he sifted through his vast collection of records and CDs. In the end, he picked nine of them to serve as guideposts along his lifetime of everdeeper engagement with music.

top row: A few of the albums David Less has produced for Memphis International Records. clockwise from top left: David Less today; introducing daughter Emma Less to Ruth Brown in 1996; Jimmy Page and B.B. King with Emma in 2005.

Shep & the Limelites, “Daddy’s Home” b/w “This I Know,” Hull Records (1961)

This was the first thing that registered with me,” he explains as the old 45 spins. “I was probably eight or nine years old. My brother Mike, who’s five years older (I also have a brother, Stanley, who’s 18 months older), played these records, and I was listening. For the older guys, Elvis was the thing. But for me, it was this. It’s interesting because it’s Black doo wop music. It’s not Memphis music.” As he speaks, the Limelites’s silky harmonies chime in, “Oooh — Rata-tat! — Oooh.”

The Beatles, Meet the Beatles! , Capitol Records (1964)

Like many ’60s teens, an especially motivating musical epiphany for Less was seeing e Beatles live on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. “I grew up with rock-and-roll, I saw Ricky Nelson on television — it was kind of a thing,” Less recalls. “But when e Beatles came on, it was like, ‘What!? Really!?’ And then it was, ‘Okay, divide up your instruments, guys!’ I chose drums.”

Recalling that time causes Less to reflect on his comfortable, well-to-do youth in Memphis. “Talking my dad into getting me drums was not hard,” he says. “ ey were mine for the asking. at’s privilege. I think we all should remember that.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?, Reprise Records (1967)

Less expanded his horizons rapidly through his teens, discovering elonious Monk in 1965 (again, through his big brother, Mike) but mostly sticking to rock. He was primed to rethink all preconceptions just as he met Rick Ivy, who was destined to become both a respected visual artist and a multi-instrumentalist in Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and other unconventional bands.

“I was in ninth grade,” Less recalls, “and Rick invited me over to his house. We were a couple of East Memphis kids. His mom, who was right out of Leave It to Beaver, greeted me and said, ‘Oh, yes, he’s in his bedroom. It’s the last door down the hall.’ You know, ‘ ank you, Mrs. Ivy…’ I go to his room, open the door, and there’s Rick, buck nekkid, he’s drawn eyes around his nipples, and a nose, he’s staring at himself in a full-length mirror, and he’s got Are You Experienced? — which had just come out that day — blaring on the stereo. And I said to myself, ‘ is guy … we’re going to be friends.’”

at began a lifetime of concertgoing for both of them. “As a result of us becoming friends,” he says, “we went to the Country Blues Festivals [the famed concert series at

the Overton Park Shell, documented in the film e Blues Society], starting when we were 14. We were too young to be there. We just had our parents drop us off, and that’s how we saw Jimi Hendrix at the auditorium, and a lot of incredible music. But whoever was at those Country Blues Festivals … their life was changed. And Rick and I became friends until he died.”

Anthony Braxton, For Alto , Delmark Records (1971)

Popular music evolved radically through the psychedelic ’60s, yet not every fan was willing to pursue the truly “out” directions in which jazz then headed. Less, however, was more open than most.

“I went to Ohio State University for my freshman year. And there was a record store called Pearl Alley Disc, or PAD, a great record store. I walk in, and this record is playing, Anthony Braxton’s For Alto. And it was almost the same as when I first heard Monk or ‘Daddy’s Home.’ It just absolutely hit me.”

Dropping the needle today, Less muses further on the album’s frenetic, raw energy. “ is guy is playing the Black experience, he’s screaming it through his fucking saxophone! I suddenly heard this guy reaching in and telling me and showing me just what it is, in the best way possible, the most direct way possible. And it absolutely gave me an insight that I had never had before. I bought the album and it started me, really, on jazz.”

After O.S.U., Less received his B.A. from Rhodes College and then entered the master’s program at then-Memphis State University, studying African-American music, especially that of Memphis. rough the years, Braxton’s For Alto stuck with Less. “I later met him and brought him to Memphis State for a show,” he says. “Great guy. He was very young then. Half the concert was a piece we commissioned him to write for 13 musicians. He was a good friend of Robert Palmer’s.”

Palmer, a writer and musician, had been one of the Country Blues Festival’s founders,

above: Rosco Gordon with David Less at the Beale Street Music Festival. PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIKA DUNCAN
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but by the ’70s he was writing for Rolling Stone and e New York Times, eventually becoming the latter’s pop music critic. “I was friends with Bob Palmer too,” says Less. “He got me my gig at Rolling Stone and DownBeat in ’76 or ’77.” Less also wrote for Memphis Magazine in those years. And, perhaps most significantly, “I met Jim Dickinson around that time.”

Ry Cooder, Into the Purple Valley, Reprise Records (1972)

Putting on Cooder’s second album, Less explains its importance as “the fi rst time I really became aware of Jim Dickinson.” Having co-produced the Cooder album in L.A., Dickinson, by then much sought after for his piano skills and discerning ears in the studio, played in Cooder’s band for the subsequent tour, as recounted in his posthumous book, I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone

“ ey did a live thing with Cooder and Dickinson at Ardent at the time,” says Less. “ at’s when I became aware that he was a Memphis guy. ‘Wow, here’s a producer who lives in Memphis!’ I met him when NARAS [the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, now the Recording Academy] had their first meeting here, around 1974.”

e Seventies were a heady time for Less, who was writing, networking, and dabbling in music video (ultimately producing the syndicated Music Vision series). Meanwhile, he juggled school and various jobs, all music adjacent. “When I worked at Poplar Tunes [record shop], Bob Kelley, who owned Mid-South Concerts, had just moved to town, and we got to be friends,” he says. “He’d ask my advice. I was selling records and had my finger on the pulse of what people were buying.” By 1979, Less himself was a promoter, producing the Beale Street Music Festival until 1983.

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Ronnie Hawkins, Billy Lee Riley, Roland Janes and David Less at BSMF in 1983.

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As the twentieth century wore on and wore out, Less’ friendship with Dickinson continued, both of them fascinated with the overlap between rock, jazz, and the roots-heavy music of the Mid-South. In 2003, he and Dickinson produced the Grammy-nominated album Down in the Alley, by Alvin Youngblood Hart. By then Less and Bob Merlis had founded the Memphis International label. Producing Dickinson as an artist was the next logical step.

“I told Jim, ‘You fussed over your last record too much,’” Less recalls. “I said, ‘We’re going to make a record and we’re going to finish it in 10 days.’”

e approach worked. And as they labored on three albums this way, “he knew just what he wanted. He wanted the boys [Dickinson’s sons, Luther and Cody, of the North Mississippi Allstars] to learn to come into a studio, hear music for the first time, and make it their own. So they could be studio musicians, which they had not been prior to that. ey’d been a band out on the road, playing blues, but not studio musicians. Dickinson said, ‘I want to give them a living.’ ose records I made with him are a trilogy, leading up to his death.” e fi nal album appeared in 2008, just when Dickinson passed away. “He died August 9th of that year. I don’t even know that he saw the last album come out.”

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James Luther Dickinson, Jungle Jim & The Voodoo Tiger (2006); Killers from Space (2007); Dinosaurs Run in Circles (2008); Memphis International Records Sam Phillips, David Less, Ike Turner, and Knox Phillips. Z.Z. Top’s Billy Gibbons on the river with Angela and David Less. TOP PHOTOGRAPH BY BOB MERLIS, BOTTOM PHOTOGRAPH BY CRISTINE REID.


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Jazz Ensemble of Memphis, Playing in the Yard , Memphis International Records (2024)

Two years later, when Less produced Onward and Upward by Luther Dickinson and Sons of Mudboy (composed of the sons of Dickinson’s band Mudboy & the Neutrons), he was making good on his friend’s hope for the future. It too was nominated for a Grammy.

Now, he’s still listening to young players.

ough Memphis International was bought by Jeff Phillips of Select-O-Hits, the legendary record distribution company, Less is working for the label on what just may be his proudest accomplishment yet. It’s inspired by a 1959 United Artists album, Downhome Reunion: Young Men from Memphis , which featured now legendary cats like George Coleman, Frank Strozier, Booker Little, Louis Smith, Phineas Newborn Jr., and his brother, Calvin.

To make a similar record now, Less created his dream team, with tenor saxophonist Charles Pender II, trumpeter Martin Carodine, keyboardist and vibraphonist DeAnte Payne, bassist Liam O’Dell, and drummer Kurtis Gray, all in their late teens and twenties. e playing is exquisite, full of inventive surprises.

“Jazz is just as good as it ever was in Memphis,” says Less, whose knowledge of the city’s music recently earned him a brass note on Beale Street. “Memphis is a jazz city. We felt it was time to show that, so we started looking for the best young jazz players to make a record with them. At the beginning, they were a bunch of guys who didn’t know each other. But as they played and cut all these tracks together, they became a band.” Lingering over this record more than any of the others, he says to expect its release this April. For Less, and all who listen, these young players strike a perfect balance, keeping one eye on the past and the other on the future, exploring the very cutting edge of music’s here and now. And that’s just where David Less wants to be.

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2024 Honorees

Formed in 1991, the Society of Entrepreneurs recognizes the historical importance of the contributions of individuals who have, over a prolonged period, demonstrated a gift of entrepreneurship and used this gift to not only create or build a successful business but have also used their gift in service to the community.

The organization’s newest inductees represent the entrepreneurial spirit in their approach to risk and resolution. Whether they’ve started a business or entered into a family enterprise, they’ve had to find the groove that propels them not just to making it, but to taking their endeavors above and beyond the usual metrics of success.

The society also honors one of its members with the Master Entrepreneur designation. This year, it’s Robert G. McEniry, former chairman of nexAir.

The 2024 inductees are Chris Brubaker of Progressive Technologies; Fred, Brett, and Justin Grinder of Grinder, Taber & Grinder, Inc.; and Stacy McCall of ServiceMaster by Stratos. They will be officially inducted into SOE at the 32nd Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet on April 20, 2024, at the FedEx Event Center at Shelby Farms.

PROFILES BY JON W. SPARKS ■ PHOTOGRAPHS BY ASHLEY WEAVER left to right: Justin Grinder, Chris Brubaker, Stacy McCall, Bob McEniry, Fred Grinder and Brett Grinder


Robert McEniry nexAir

NexAir is a three-generational company acquired by Robert McEniry’s father in 1950. McEniry worked there in high school and college and joined the firm in 1963. He became president of the company in 1971 and chairman/CEO in 1996. It was a time of acquisitions, mergers, start-ups, and joint ventures and in his 60 years with the company, revenues and expansion grew substantially. His son, Kevin, took over as CEO in 2007, developing the company to an industry powerhouse. When it was sold in 2023, the company had more than 75 locations and 725 employees.

The company supplies packaged and bulk atmospheric gases for medical, metal fabrication, construction, and research applications. It is also a distributor of gas-related equipment including specialized medical equipment, welding equipment, and related supplies.

Did you want to go into your father’s business?

MCINERY: I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to go into this business, so I kind of came in with misgivings, maybe thinking I would go somewhere else. My father wasn’t a big proponent of forklifts or air conditioning or tailgates on trucks, which would make things easy, but I did come in and found the business to be pretty exciting. The products that we had were very interesting and also very productive. And the applications of our products filled just a smorgasbord of industries. Consequently, I fell in love with the business.

How did you find your role in the business?

If you study entrepreneurial businesses, the first generation is generally that economic dynamo that does everything. When I went to work for my dad, he once went out of town and suddenly told me I was in charge for a week. I tried to be him, but that is not my style. He was the dynamo. He did everything and I realized he probably needed some help and I think he needed me, but if anything happened to him, I really was in trouble. But I saw the opportunities for the business were greater than me, so I went about trying to recruit my own group.

What do you look for in people you work with?

I found that what a person you’re really looking for in business, especially if you’re going to be dealing with a lot of people, is a wellrounded person. Somebody that understands psychological and sociological history, interestingly enough.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to start a business?

I want to make sure they’ve got a unique product and a good financial background or have somebody backing them. There’s a lot of people that try to get into business that ought to first work for a company. You can be entrepreneurial in a company like nexAir without starting the company. People that really get ahead are people that take ownership of a particular situation and say, okay, that’s my project, I’m going to do it. And then they’ve got some background or proof

We’re in the center of the country. We don’t have a lot of base industry here, but we have the distribution industry. This is where all the railroads cross. This is where all the highways cross. We’ve got the river. And of course we’ve got a wonderful airport and we’ve got relatively good weather. The people that have run some of these large companies are not only dedicated to making good business decisions and running good businesses, but they were invested in the community itself. They made sure that their employees were invested in the community. There’s a soul to Memphis that has created some


April 12 - 14

Stacy McCall

ServiceMaster by Stratos

Iwas a Delta girl and I liked rocks, so why not become a petroleum engineer if you like rocks?”

That made perfect sense to Stacy McCall of Greenwood, Mississippi, who went to Mississippi State University to do just that. She got that degree and enjoyed working on offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, flying in helicopters, laboring crazy hours, and getting in some hands-on participation. She didn’t quite realize that was all training to become an independent business owner.

That came later when she went in on ServiceMaster Clean and ServiceMaster Building Maintenance franchises with her husband in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And from there, McCall kept up the pace. Moving to Columbus, Mississippi, and then to Memphis, she became chief financial officer and then CEO and president and oversaw rebranding in 2010 to ServiceMaster by Stratos.

McCall is a past president of NAWBO Memphis and sits on the Boy Scouts of America Chickasaw Council and the Le Bonheur National Leadership Council for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Previously, she was a commissioner for Memphis City Beautiful and treasurer for the Memphis in May International Festival.

In an interview about her induction into the Society of Entrepreneurs, she spoke about her journeys.

How did you find it coming to Memphis?

MCCALL: It was an opportunity to experience a community that really had a vested interest in you, the business community here. It was like they wanted to introduce you to someone else. They wanted you to make a connection. They wanted you to succeed, which was fertile ground for me to say, “Hey, not only could I do this, but maybe I can buy a building. Maybe we could start an event venue, maybe we could connect in deeper ways with the community.”

How do you give back to the community?

An example would be our River Arts festival that happens every year. We donate time and energy to help an organization like that put on the event. But what it does when we do that is our people get to experience the event itself. Also, they love seeing the craftsmen; they love to see the artwork.

Name a great learning tool.

The school of hard knocks has been really a wonderful tool for us to use to learn from our escapades and hopefully not repeat the same mistake twice.

What are the strengths of your leadership?

At the beginning we were learning the processes and the products and all of that. Then slowly but surely I realized that we were in a people business and that the biggest investment that we could make is in our people. We have developed a culture in the organization that drives every decision for employment or bringing someone into the organization. Now, I have to say we home-grow our people into positions within the organization. And the first line of defense in taking care of our people is making sure that those that we bring to our organization and within our organization have the same philosophy and care for our people that we do.

A young person with entrepreneurial dreams comes to you for advice. What do you say?

You’re going to have to be comfortable in the uncomfortable when you start. And who is going to be your support system? Do you have family? Do you have business associates? Who are you going to surround yourself with?

Who are you developing relationships with that when it gets tough, you can call on? This is not a lone ranger kind of activity. You have to have a tribe. What are you doing to develop that tribe so that when the going gets tough, you have those that will have your back, that will provide a stake in the sand, some compass, your

How many employees do you have?

ServiceMaster by Stratos, our flagship here in Memphis, has 150 employees, but we call them our service partners because they’re partners in service to the customer. Now we have the same in our Reno, Nevada, area. We have over 140 service partners operating out there too.

What does the future hold?

I don’t see obstacles, I see opportunities, and that’s an entrepreneur. And so right now at Stratos, the opportunities that exist for us to move into even more activities. And that’s one thing, as the market moves, we have the opportunity to move because we are a continuous learner organization and we’re always looking forward to what is happening in the marketplace that’s new, so that we can innovate and be part of that new adventure in the local marketplace.



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Chris Brubaker

Progressive Technologies, Inc.

When Brubaker’s father bought Progressive Technogies, they talked about Chris coming into the enterprise. The young man was in college and had plans to get into accounting, which he did, working at Deloitte for several years.

But his father got cancer and the two had a heart-to-heart talk about what to do. Young Brubaker was 26 and had a big decision to make. He agreed to come into the company, acquiring it a couple of months before his father died.

Brubaker discussed his decision and his road to leadership in an interview for his induction into the Society of Entrepreneurs.

What was your situation at that time?

BRUBAKER: I came into a business where I had maybe worked a couple of hundred hours in the field as a college student and just started working really hard. I spent a lot of days, almost every day, at [my father’s] bedside while he was living, just trying to soak up knowledge. From 1997 until now, it’s just been a heck of a journey, a great career. What my father gave me was a good work ethic and the confidence that he thought I could figure it out. He had an incredible reputation. So, there were people that I think in hindsight probably took pity on me and said, “We’ll continue doing business with this kid that doesn’t know anything.”

What does Progressive Technologies do?

We are a low-voltage and systems-specialty contractor, which is one of those things people do that everybody realizes somebody has to do it, but nobody really knows who it is. We started in the cabling business — telephone and computer cabling and fiber-optic backbones — and have moved into security cameras, building access control, paging systems, school intercom, wi-fi, fire alarm, any sort of burglary. It’s all commercial and industrial. We’ve got another group that does a very specific building management system installation in the cloud data market. We’re in offices in Memphis, Little Rock, Rogers, Arkansas, and Dallas, Texas. And then we have a group that does data center work all over the country. We sort of pick up and set up shop for a year and a half to two years and then go to the next one.

What’s your advice to someone who comes to you and wants advice on starting a business?

I am going to ask them what their risk tolerance is. When I started this, I had no responsibilities, and I continue to have a pretty high risk tolerance, but you’ve got to make sure that they understand the commitment. I worked seven days a week for a lot of years. I’m not saying that was the right thing to do, but I didn’t have a lot to work with. You’ve got to have a drive, you’ve got to have a work ethic, you’ve got to have a good idea, and you’ve got to be able to inspire people, attract talent, and treat them right.

There are a lot of moving parts that can make a business successful. And it’s all people. You’ve got to build customer relationships and that’s got to be based on trust, quality work, product, or whatever it is you happen to be doing. It’s not a journey for everybody, but for the right folks, I think it’s a really rewarding way to spend a career.

What do you look for when you are looking at a

Our joke has always been, if you need to be managed, you probably don’t need to come here. We hire really good people, pay them well, get out of their way, and give them the tools they need to be successful in their career. I have competitors that are very system-driven, very regulated. There’s a process for every little thing, and that works wonderfully for them but it doesn’t work for us. We’ve been a much more aggressive sort of cowboy-up mentality. Let’s go figure out how to grow and attract really good people and provide a really good product and experience with our customers.

What is it about Memphis that makes it a good place for entrepreneurs to thrive?

I think Memphis is a town full of characters, and that’s what I love about it. We have no shortage of risk-takers. I think it’s just an incredible place to have been fortunate enough to grow up and still call home. There’s just something in the water that pushes people to do fun, great things.


Please join us for the 32nd Annual Entrepreneur Awards Presentation & Dinner

Saturday, April 20, 2024 6:00 pm FedEx Event Center at Shelby Farms Parks


Chris Brubaker • Fred Grinder • Brett Grinder

Justin Grinder • Stacy McCall AND HONORING

Robert G. McEniry


For more information contact Pearson Crutcher at

Fred, Brett, and Justin Grinder

Grinder, Taber and Grinder, Inc.

As a leading construction firm, Grinder, Taber and Grinder is operating with both the second and third generations at the helm. Fred Grinder’s father and uncles got the company going and he witnessed the creation of some of the area’s most significant buildings, such as Memphis City Hall and the 100 North Main Building. Fred, like his father before him, introduced his sons, Brett and Justin, to a life in construction and they’ve been building some of the most iconic structures in Memphis.

The brothers both went to Georgia Tech, and both worked in Atlanta after college and soon after brought the experience home.

How did you get started in the business?

FRED: The company was founded in 1968, my senior year in high school, and I worked there, part-time through college and then full-time in 1973. I had the good fortune of working side by side with my Dad. I’m proud that I and my two sons are carrying the legacy on and we’re sole owners now.

JUSTIN: We were taught that engineers were the problem-solvers, so we always wanted to get into this business. I fondly remember my grandfather would pick us up on weekends and we’d go check out job sites. We learned by observing and saw the work ethic as he talked to subcontractors. And Dad taught us the financial side of the business. We always wanted to do it.

BRETT: We grew up in Memphis and both of us went to Memphis University School. Our family always had a great respect for engineers and were told we should get an engineering degree.

What’s something you do that keeps you on your toes?

BRETT: I’ve had different perspectives on every problem I’ve come across watching my father and grandfather. They had different approaches and different things to offer and they gave me the freedom to grow the business. I’ve learned to be quiet in meetings and pay attention to our clients because we work with some of the greatest business minds in Memphis, from the medical to the financial to the educational fields.

What’s your advice for prospective entrepreneurs?

FRED: With a young startup, you’d better know what you’re doing and have a business plan that makes sense. Have a passion for it. Most startups have low capital and nobody in the city knows them, but that’s an obstacle you can overcome if your business plan makes sense and can be profitable. Don’t be deterred by setbacks. Keep fighting.

BRETT: Work for the very best and surround yourself with these people for as long as you can. And once you’re ready, jump in with both feet.

JUSTIN: Stick to your knitting. Be the best in your specific industry. Don’t try to expand and do a bunch of different things all at once.

What’s your corporate culture like?

BRETT: We have a culture of technical competence. We look to see if a prospective employee has an engineering or design degree or expertise so when they’re working with our construction engineers they already have that mindset. Everybody wants to do continuous development themselves, so we have a culture of constant learning.

JUSTIN: We’re open to change. We’re constantly changing our methods and becoming more efficient every day. If you’re not open to technical advances in the construction industry, then you probably won’t progress very far.

How do you find the best people?

BRETT: In addition to their degrees, we look for people who can read and write really well. We can teach you how to build a building and build an estimate, but we can’t teach you good grammar or the soft skills you might need.

What’s your vision for the future of the company?

BRETT: Ever since Crosstown Concourse [opened] and what’s happened in the past decade is a great trajectory. We’re a people business and I don’t think we’re going to be interrupted by artificial intelligence. We want to have all our people in one place so we can be there.

Are entrepreneurs born or taught?

FRED: You’re molded by the people around you. I’ve seen entrepreneurs whose children are not capable of carrying on a second generation. But I’m here with two individuals who are third-generation leading this company to the biggest heights it’s ever had. So, I think it’s a little bit of both.

What was your most challenging project?

JUSTIN: My favorite is the Paul Barret Jr. Library at Rhodes College, because it was such a challenging project. It’ll be there to stand the test of time. It’s astounding when you walk in the doors. It’s a beautiful building.

BRETT: The absolutely most challenging project right now is the Brooks Museum project downtown. It’s like building a Swiss watch. You couldn’t get that building built in a prior life without the technology we have today.


Spring for a meal.

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place through the day of April 6th, giving way to live music that evening and ultimately an eclipse-viewing gathering two days later, when the sun’s disc will be 99.38 percent blocked at its peak.

Just down the road in Dyess, Arkansas State University’s KASU radio station will host the Arkansas Roots Music Festival in front of the Cash home on April 6th, with El Dorado native Jason D. Williams headlining, followed by a “lunch and learn” with NASA scientist Dr. Les Johnson on April 7th, and the option to park campers near the historic home for the following day’s astronomical event.

And yet, lest one forget the wide-ranging impact the eclipse will have on all of nature, another NASA initiative may persuade you to eschew the music and hoopla and simply listen.

e Eclipse Soundscapes Project puts the invisible at the center of the celestial experience, encouraging people from all walks of life to document the stark changes in animal behavior when all goes dark. As noted on the NASA website (, the eclipse offers “the perfect opportunity for a large-scale citizen science project.” Volunteers will be asked to use a low-cost audio recording device to capture the sounds of an eclipse, or to write down their multisensory observations and submit them to the project website.

And, as my pre-eclipse adventure wound down, I came across the perfect place to take in the invisible shift in sounds on April 8th, at the Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge just north of Dyess. e refuge’s virgin swampland, still subject to the ebb and flow of groundwater and at times 99 percent submerged, preserves more than habitats for waterfowl and other creatures — it preserves nature’s quiet.

As any hiker knows, that doesn’t mean silence, but rather the hoots, howls, and honks of the nonhuman world. And ultimately, those sounds may be the greatest gift of the Natural State, reminding us just how attuned to nature’s cycles wild creatures can be. at will perhaps make the strongest impression on any who venture out on April 8th, as the moon engulfs the land in its shadow. e birds and bees will fall silent, the crickets will emerge, and nature’s invisible kingdom will make itself known in the dark of the day.

☜ ARKANSAS continued from page
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A welcome addition to the breakfast-dining scene.

The flaky buttery biscuit at Kinfolk is draped with a fluff y egg, melted cheese, and sizzling meat — simple ingredients that add up to nostalgic delight. Previously operating out of Comeback Coffee, Kinfolk’s first brick-and-mortar location is now open in Harbor Town — a welcome addition to the local breakfast scene.

“Comeback Coffee was proof that [the concept] would work,” says head chef Cole Jeanes. “We needed that year to find the right people, and find out what worked and what didn’t.” Kyle Taylor, designer, and part-owner, recalls, “Every week a line would form out the door. Every week Cole would deliver a consistent product, and every week we sold out.”

e inspiration for their new menu starts with the restaurant’s name. “‘Kinfolk’ is a term for people that you love, your family,” says Jeanes. “That’s what food is to me. Especially in a family, it’s sitting down at a table, eating, and sharing.”

Complementing the name, Kinfolk’s menu speaks to Jeanes’ childhood experiences and the tastes that defined his youth. e biscuit recipe is straight from his

is is especially true with their menu’s version of Waffle House’s iconic plates. “We’ll have something called the MVP, which is just literally the All Star,” Jeanes says, “but we do it with regenerative farms, and it has higher-quality ingredients.” Combining elevated ingredients with their nostalgic design is how Kinfolk creates an inventive taste on familiar foods. Taylor explains, “Listen, I could eat salmon for every meal, every day for the rest of my life. Cole’s take on salmon and biscuit is, well — I’ll just call it what it is. It’s stoner food. It’s some hangover-curing, stoner-munchy deliciousness. I love it.”

mother’s kitchen, and he derived menu inspiration from gas-station stops with his father while on hunting trips together. He designed the menu to focus on high-quality ingredients prepared simply, traditionally, with a few more modern accents.

Stand-out menu items include not only biscuits, bowls, and (new to the brick-and-mortar) cocktails. Classic Americana-inspired plates include a tender New York strip with herb butter, a golden French omelet, cheesy greens, and crispy hash browns.

Drawing from childhood memories and generational family recipes, Kinfolk builds on its sentimental vibe, and not only in the menu offerings. Of the interior design for the space, Taylor says, “Every square inch has been thought through. Down to the

style of the seat that you’re sitting on, to the type of plate that you’re eating from, to the art that is around you. Every single aspect has been run through the fi lter of ‘does this conjure up a sense of nostalgia?’” Walking into Kinfolk is not a normal breakfast experience but an opportunity for guests to travel back in time.

Jeanes hopes guests will travel back to Kinfolk again and again, too, for consistency, the best hangover cures, and more of that trademark nostalgia. “I love Waffle House,” he says. “Our menu is basically a refined Waffle House menu with biscuits as the main character.”

e Kinfolk team also plans to have a breakfast bar with new specialty drink concoctions. Jeanes says, “We’ll be having drinks like a Yoo-hoo cocktail with bourbon mixed in, our version of a Bloody Mary, some bubbles and juices, Cheerwine Negronis, and a special sage gin drink with lemon and peppercorns that complements our signature biscuits and gravy.”

When operating out of Comeback, Kinfolk was weekend-only, but will expand to most weekdays in their new space. ey also plan to expand their dining hours to 3 p.m., offering both breakfast and lunch. In the future, Kinfolk also hopes to open for late-night dining.

For their new opening, Kinfolk aims to achieve what they call a “streamlined customer experience.” As Taylor says, “Consistency is key. is has always been our mantra as we’ve explored the food scene and built relationships with restaurant jurors and friends of food.” Overall, Kinfolk’s refi ned flavors, nostalgic ambiance, and consistency create a happy addition to downtown daytime dining. “Life is so short,” says Jeanes. “We want people coming in, getting a chicken sandwich, but stepping into a different world.”

Kinfolk Restaurant, 111 Harbor Town Square, Memphis, TN, 38103.

Fried chicken biscuit with egg and cheese New York strip steak with French omelette, greens, and toasted milk bread Crispy brown butter mushrooms with jammy egg over grits Cole Jeanes with his family

Memphis Dining Guide

A Curated Guide to Eating Out

MemphisMagazine offers this curated restaurant listing as a service to our readers. Broken down alphabetically by neighborhoods, this directory does not list every restaurant in town. It does, however, include the magazine’s “Top 50” choices of must-try restaurants in Memphis, a group that is updated every August. Establishments open less than a year are not eligible for “Top 50” but are noted as “New.” is guide also includes a representative sampling of other Bluff City eating establishments. No fast-food facilities or cafeterias are listed. Restaurants are included regardless of whether they advertise in  MemphisMagazine; those that operate in multiple locations are listed under the neighborhood of their original location. is guide is updated regularly, but we recommend that you call ahead to check on hours, prices, or other details. Suggestions from readers are welcome:


117 PRIME—Restaurateurs Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp team up with Chef Ryan Trimm to recreate the traditional American steakhouse. Serving oysters on the half shell and a variety of surf and turf options. 117 Union. 433-9851. L, D, WB, X, $-$$$

ALDO’S PIZZA PIES—Serving gourmet pizzas — including Mr. T Rex — salads, and more. Also 30 beers, bottled or on tap. 100 S. Main. 577-7743; 752 S. Cooper. 725-7437. L, D, X, $-$$

AMELIA GENE’S—Globally inspired fine-dining cuisine at the One Beale project, including Rohan duck, Wagyu filet, and an extensive cheese cart. 255 S. Front. 686-5051. D, X, $$-$$$

THE ARCADE—Possibly Memphis’ oldest cafe. Specialties include sweet potato pancakes, a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, and breakfast served all day. 540 S. Main. 526-5757. B, L, D (Thurs.-Sat.), X, MRA, $

ARNOLD’S SMOKEHOUSE—A classic smokehouse with vegan and nonvegan options seasoned to perfection. Closed Mon. 2019 E. Person Ave. 922-5950. L, D, SB, X, $-$$$

AUTOMATIC SLIM’S—Longtime Downtown favorite specializes in contemporary American cuisine emphasizing local ingredients; also extensive martini list. 83 S. Second. 525-7948. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$

BARDOG TAVERN—Classic American grill with Italian influence, Bardog offers pasta specialties such as Grandma’s NJ Meatballs, as well as salads, sliders, sandwiches, and daily specials. 73 Monroe. 275-8752.

B (Mon.-Fri.), L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$

BEDROCK EATS & SWEETS—Memphis’ only Paleo-centric restaurant, offering such dishes as pot roast, waffles, enchiladas, chicken salad, omelets, and more. Closed for dinner Sun. 327 S. Main. 409-6433.

B, L, D, X, $-$$

CAROLINA WATERSHED—This indoor/outdoor eatery, set around silos, features reimagined down-home classics, including fried green tomatoes with smoked catfish, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, burgers, and more. Closed Mon.-Thurs. 141 E. Carolina. 321-5553. L, D, WB, $-$$

CATHERINE & MARY’S—A variety of pastas, grilled quail, pâté, razor clams, and monkfish are among the dishes served at this Italian restaurant in the Chisca. 272 S. Main. 254-8600. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

CHEF TAM’S UNDERGROUND CAFE—Serves Southern staples with a Cajun twist. Menu items include totchoes, jerk wings, fried chicken, and “muddy” mac and cheese. Closed Sun. and Mon. 668 Union Ave. 207-6182. L, D, X, $-$$


B — breakfast

L — lunch

D — dinner

SB — Sunday brunch

WB — weekend brunch

CHEZ PHILIPPE—Classical/contemporary French cuisine with Asian and Nordic influences, presented in a luxurious atmosphere with seasonal tasting menus from chef Keith Clinton. Afternoon tea served Thu-Sun., noon-3:30 p.m. (reservations required). Closed Sun.-Tues. The Peabody, 149 Union. 529-4188. D, X, MRA, $$$$

CIMAS—It’s breakfast tacos, shrimp and grits, chilaquiles verdes, and plenty of other Southern and Latin-American twists at the Hyatt Centric. 33 Beale St. 444-3232. B, L, D, X, $-$$$

X— wheelchair accessible

MRA — member, Memphis Restaurant Association

$ — under $15 per person without drinks or desserts

$$ — under $25

$$$ — $26-$50

$$$$ — over $50

BELLE TAVERN—Serving elevated bar food, including a butcher board with a variety of meats and cheeses, as well as daily specials. 117 Barboro Alley. 249-6580. L (Sun.), D, MRA, $

BEN YAY’S GUMBO SHOP—Spiritual successor to DejaVu, offering fresh and authentic Creole staples. 51 S. Main St., 779-4125. L, D, X, $-$$

BISHOP—Ticer and Hudman’s newest venture at the Central Station Hotel features upscale dishes in a French brasserie style. 545 S. Main St., 524-5247. L, D, X, $$-$$$

BRASS DOOR IRISH PUB—Irish and New-American cuisine includes such entrees as fish and chips, burgers, shepherd’s pie, all-day Irish breakfast, and more. 152 Madison. 572-1813. L, D, SB, $-$$

BY THE BREWERY—Breakfast and lunch café, with a focus on Southern-style biscuits, salads, and soups. 496 Tennessee St. 310-4341.

B, L, $

CAFE KEOUGH—European-style cafe serving quiche, paninis, salads, and more. 12 S. Main. 509-2469. B, L, D, X, $

CAPRICCIO GRILL ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE—Offers prime steaks, fresh seafood (lobster tails, grouper, mahi mahi), pasta, and several Northern Italian specialties. 149 Union, The Peabody. 529-4199. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$$

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COCOZZA AMERICAN ITALIAN—”The red sauce joint of your dreams” serves up classic Italian-American fare from the owners of Majestic Grille. Closed Sun. 110 Harbor Town Sq. 609-1111. D, X, $-$$

COZY CORNER—Serving up ribs, pork sandwiches, chicken, spaghetti, and more; also homemade banana pudding. Closed Mon. 735 N. Parkway. 527-9158. L, D, $

CURFEW—An elevated sports bar/American tavern concept by Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani at the Canopy Memphis Downtown hotel. 164 Union Ave. B, L, D, X, $-$$

DOS HERMANOS KITCHEN—Breakfast and lunch concept by Eli Townsend in the Cossitt Library. 33 S. Front. 286-2399. B, L, $

ESCO RESTAURANT AND TAPAS—Shareable dishes, turkey ribs, and seafood mac’n’cheese at this 2 Chainz franchise. 156 Lt. George W. Lee Ave. 808-3726. L, D, $$-$$$

FEAST & GRAZE—Whipped goat toast, open-faced grilled cheese, and other local pantry snacks and charcuterie boards. Closed Sun./Mon. 55 S. Main. 654-5926. L, X, $

FERRARO’S CHEESY CORNER & PIZZERIA—Plenty of pizzas, along with a whole new cheese-inspired menu (fancy grilled cheeses and build-your-own mac and cheese bowls). 111 Jackson. 522-2033. L, D, X, $ FISHBOWL AT THE PYRAMID—Burgers, fish dishes, sandwiches, and more served in a unique “underwater” setting. Bass Pro, 1 Bass Pro Drive, 291-8000. B, L, D, X, $-$$

FLIGHT RESTAURANT & WINE BAR—Serves steaks and seafood, along with such specialties as bison ribeye and Muscovy duck, all matched with appropriate wines. 39 S. Main. 521-8005. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

FLYING FISH—Serves up fried and grilled versions of shrimp, crab, oysters, fish tacos, and catfish; also chicken and burgers. 105 S. Second. 522-8228. L, D, X, $-$$

GARDEN BRUNCH CAFÉ—Fish and grits, steak and eggs, and other upscale takes on Southern brunch classics. 492 S. Main St. 249-7450. B, L, $$

GOOD FORTUNE CO.—Authentic handcrafted noodles, ramen, and dumplings. 361 S. Main. 561-306-4711. L, D, X, $-$$

THE GENRE—Burgers, tenders, catfish, and plenty of vegan options made to order at this music-themed restaurant/lounge. 200 Poplar, Suite 105. 410-8169. B, L, D, X, $-$$

GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN—Serves chicken with signature spicy batter, along with homemade beans, slaw, and pies. 310 S. Front. 527-4877; 3100 Forest Hill Irene (Germantown). 853-6005; 2965 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 373-9111; 730 S. Mendenhall. 767-2323; 505 Highway 70 W., Mason, TN. 901-294-2028. L, D, X, MRA, $

HAPPY MEXICAN—Serves quesadillas, burritos, chimichangas, vegetable and seafood dishes, and more. 385 S. Second. 529-9991; 6080 Primacy Pkwy. 683-0000; 7935 Winchester. 751-5353. L, D, X, $ HIVE BAGEL & DELI Bagels, bagels, and more bagels at this new Downtown deli offering baked goods, sandwiches, and salads. Closed Mon./Tue. 276 S. Front St. 509-2946. B, L, $

HU. ROOF—Rooftop cocktail bar with superb city views serves toasts with a variety of toppings including beef tartare with cured egg, cognac, and capers or riced cauliflower with yellow curry, currants, and almonds. Also salads, fish tacos, and boiled peanut hummus. 79 Madison. 3331229. D, X, $

HUSTLE & DOUGH BAKERY & CAFE—Flaky, baked breakfast goodness every day with fresh pastries, sandwiches, and more at Arrive Hotel. 477 S. Main St., 701-7577. B, L, X, $

IBIS—Upscale cocktail bar serving sharable small plates, including lobster rolls, crab cakes, and lamb meatballs, alongside select larger entrees. Closed Mon.-Wed. 314 S. Main. 748-5187. D, X, $-$$

INKWELL—Unique craft concoctions, charcuterie plates, flatbreads, and sandwiches at this dope cocktail bar. Closed Mon.-Tue. 631 Madison Ave. 334-9411. D, X, $-$$

ITTA BENA—Southern and Cajun-American cuisine served here, conveniently located above B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale St.; specialties are duck and waffles and shrimp and grits, along with steaks, chops, seafood, and pasta. 145 Beale St. 578-3031. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$

KING & UNION BAR GROCERY—Classic Southern favorites including catfish plate, pimento cheese, po-boys, chicken & waffles. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with cocktails served with flair and favorite Memphis beers. Locally made confections available in the grocery. 185 Union Ave. 523-8500. B, L, D, $-$$

KOOKY CANUCK—Offers prime rib, catfish, and burgers, including the 4-lb. “Kookamonga”; also late-night menu. 87 S. Second. 578-9800; 1250 N. Germantown Pkwy. 1-800-2453 L, D, X, MRA, $-$$$

LITTLE BETTIE—New Haven-style pizzas and snacks from the AndrewMichael team at Wiseacre’s Downtown location. 398 S. B.B. King Blvd. 334-9411. L, D, $-$$

THE LOBBYIST AT THE CHISCA—Chef Jimmy Gentry brings his farm-to-table ideas Downtown, with seasonal, and sometimes weekly, new menus, and an emphasis on creative vegetable dishes. Closed Sun. 272 S. Main St., Suite 101. 249-2170. D, $$-$$$$

LOCAL—Entrees with a focus on locally sourced products include lobster mac-and-cheese and rib-eye patty melt; menu differs by location. 95 S. Main. 473-9573. L, D, WB, X, $-$$

LOFLIN YARD—Beer garden and restaurant serves vegetarian fare and smoked-meat dishes, including beef brisket and pork tenderloin, cooked on a custom-made grill. Closed Mon.-Tues. 7 W. Carolina. 249-3046. L (Sat. and Sun.), D, MRA, X, $-$$

LONGSHOT—A wide variety of international fusion dishes and craft cocktails with a side of shuffleboard. 477 S. Main. D, $-$$

THE LOOKOUT AT THE PYRAMID—Serves seafood and Southern fare, including cornmeal-fried oysters, sweet tea brined chicken, and elk chops. 1 Bass Pro Dr. 620-4600/291-8200. L, D, X, $-$$$

LUNA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE—Serving a limited menu of breakfast and lunch items. Dinner entrees include citrus glaze salmon and Cajun stuffed chicken. 179 Madison (Hotel Napoleon). 526-0002. B, D (Mon.-Sat.), X, $-$$$

MACIEL’S—Entrees include tortas, fried taco plates, quesadillas, chorizo and pastor soft tacos, salads, and more. Closed Sun. 45 S. Main. 526-0037, X, MRA, $

THE MAJESTIC GRILLE—Features aged steaks, fresh seafood, and such specialties as roasted chicken and grilled pork tenderloin;

(This guide, compiled by our editors, includes editorial picks and advertisers.) 72 • MEMPHISMAGAZINE.COM • APRIL 2024
and the people who grow, cook, and eat the best Memphis food at MEMPHISMAGAZINE.COM/FOOD

offers a pre-theater menu and classic cocktails. Well-stocked bar. 145 S. Main. 522-8555. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$

McEWEN’S—Southern/American cuisine with international flavors; specialties include steak and seafood, sweet potato-crusted catfish with macaroni and cheese, and more. Closed Sun., Monroe location. 120 Monroe. 527-7085; 1110 Van Buren (Oxford). 662-234-7003. L, D, SB (Oxford only), X, MRA, $$-$$$

MESQUITE CHOP HOUSE—The focus here is on steaks, including prime fillet, rib-eyes, and prime-aged New York strip; also, some seafood options. 5960 Getwell (Southaven). 662-890-2467; 88 Union. 5275337. 249-5661. D, SB, X, $$-$$$

MOLLIE FONTAINE LOUNGE—Specializes in tapas (small plates) featuring global cuisine. Closed Sun.-Tues. 679 Adams Ave. 524-1886. D, X, MRA, $

MOMMA’S ROADHOUSE—This diner and dive at Highway 55 serves up smoked wings, burgers, and beer, among other solid bar-food options 855 Kentucky. 207-5111. L, D, MRA, $

NEW WING ORDER The award-winning food truck cooks up its signature hot wings at its first physical location, at Ghost River on Beale. Closed Mon./Tue. 341 Beale. L, D, $-$$

THE NINE THAI & SUSHI—Serving authentic Thai dishes, including curries, as well as a variety of sushi rolls. Closed for lunch Sat. and Sun. 121 Union. 208-8347. L, D, X, $-$$

PAPER PLATE PAVILION—Popular food truck serves up brisket mac and cheese and more favorites at Tom Lee Park. Riverside Dr. L, X, $-$$

PAULETTE’S—Presents fine dining with a Continental flair, including such entrees as filet Paulette with butter cream sauce and crabmeat and spinach crepes; also changing daily specials and great views. River Inn. 50 Harbor Town Square. 260-3300. B, L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$

PENNY’S NITTY GRITTY—Coach Penny Hardaway brings plenty of Southern flavors and lots of customizable grits. 220 S. B.B. King Blvd. 334-5950. B, L, D, $$-$$$

PRETTY TACO Fast casual tacos with a Memphis twist, like the Soul Burger tacos. Closed Sun./Mon. 265 S. Front St. 509-8120. L, D, $-$$

PROMISE South Main soul food restaurant (think turkey necks, meatloaf, fried catfish) using old family recipes. Closed Sun./Mon. 412 S. Main. L, D, $-$$

RAW GIRLS—Raw and hot plant-based food alongside cold-pressed juices made from seasonal, locally grown sources. Closed Sun. 150 Peabody Pl., Suite 118. 207-5463. B, L, D, $-$$

RENDEZVOUS, CHARLES VERGOS’—Menu items include barbecued ribs, cheese plates, skillet shrimp, red beans and rice, and Greek salads. Closed Sun.-Mon. 52 S. Second. 523-2746. L (Fri.Sat.), D, X, $-$$

SABOR CARIBE—Serving up “Caribbean flavors” with dishes from Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Closed Sunday. 662 Madison. 949-8100. L, D, X, $

SAGE—Restaurant and lounge features daily lunch specials and tapas with such dishes as braised short ribs, teriyaki pulled pork, and the Sage burger made with Angus beef, avocado mash, fried egg, and flash-fried sage. 94 S. Main. 672-7902. L, D, WB, X, $-$$

SILLY GOOSE LOUNGE—Gourmet, wood-fired pizzas and handcrafted cocktails at this Downtown restaurant and lounge. 150 Peabody Place, Suite 111. 435-6915. L, D, X, $

SMURFEY’S SMOKEHOUSE—The beloved food truck has found a permanent home for their famous loaded nachos and fries with plans of adding breakfast soon. Closed Sun. and Mon. 149 Madison Ave. 337-7966. L, D, X, $-$$

SOUTH MAIN SUSHI & GRILL—Serving sushi, nigiri, and more. 520 S. Main. 249-2194. L, D, X, $

SOB—Elevated gastropub that serves favorites like general Tso’s cauliflower or duck fried rice. 345 S. Main. 526-0388; 5040 Sanderlin (East Memphis). 818-0821; 1329 W. Poplar Ave. 286-1360. L, D, WB, X , $-$$

SOUTH POINT GROCERY—Fresh and delicious sandwiches made to order at Downtown’s new grocery market. 136 Webster Ave. B, L, D, X, $

SUGAR GRITS—Who said breakfast has to be in the morning? The Westmorelands offer grits and other breakfast goodness all day long, in addition to other Southern-style lunch and dinner options. 150 Peabody Pl., Suite 111. 249-5206. B, L, D, X, $-$$

SUNRISE MEMPHIS—Serves breakfast all day, including house-made biscuits, frittatas, kielbasa or boudin plates, and breakfast platters. 670 Jefferson. 552-3144; 5469 Poplar Ave. (East Memphis). 844-6117. B, L, X, MRA, $

SUPPER CLUB ON 2ND—Fine dining and urban bistro styles collide at this snazzy, chic restaurant, featuring gold-encrusted tomahawk steaks,

ARTISAN COFFEES BREAKFAST - LUNCH - BRUNCH 603 N. Mclean Memphis, TN 38107 Memphis Magazine’s THE 2022 BestLocal HOUSE COFFEE Memphis Magazine’s The 2023 Best Local Coffee House Monday- Saturday 7am-3pm Sunday Brunch 9am-3pm Legendary Pizza Since 1977 Broadway Pizza House 629 South Mendenhall (901) 207-1546 2581 Broad Avenue (901) 454-7930 Memphis Magazine’s THE 2024 FACE OF PIZZA MEMPHIS DINING GUIDE

a deep sea lobster dawg, fancy cocktails, and plenty of other elevated goodies. 85 S. 2nd St. 453-6334. D, WB, X, $$-$$$

TALK SHOP—Southern-style cuisine, a breakfast bar, and plenty of other cool dishes and drinks at the Caption by Hyatt. 245 S. Front St. B, L, D, X, $-$$

TERRACE—Creative American and Continental cuisine includes such dishes as filet mignon, beef or lamb sliders, chicken satay, and mushroom pizzetta. Rooftop, River Inn of Harbor Town, 50 Harbor Town Square. 260-3366. D, X, MRA, $$

TEXAS DE BRAZIL—Serves beef, pork, lamb, and chicken dishes, and Brazilian sausage; also a salad bar with extensive toppings. 150 Peabody Place, Suite 103. 526-7600. L (Wed.-Fri.), D, WB, X, $$-$$$

THE GARDEN BRUNCH CAFÉ—Leaving their Nashville roots, a unique and healthy brunch spot in the heart of Downtown. Closed Mon.—Thurs. 492 S. Main St. 249-7450. B, SB, WB, X, $-$$$

TUG’S—Famous for New Orleans gumbo, fabulous burgers, fried thin catfish, and specialty pancakes. Now serving Grisanti Crafted Pizza. 51 Harbor Town Square. 260-3344. B, L, D, WB, X, $$-$$$

WAHLBURGERS WILD—Wahlburgers brings its classic menu, but with a few gamey twists at the Bass Pro Pyramid. 1 Bass Pro Drive. B, L, D, X, $-$$

WESTY’S—Extensive menu includes a variety of wild rice dishes, sandwiches, plate lunches, and hot fudge pie. 346 N. Main. 543-3278. L, D, X, $

WINGMAN—Downtown lounge and hookah bar offering wings galore with ten signature sauces, and plenty of other goodies. 143 Madison Ave. L, D, WB, X, $-$$


ABNER’S FAMOUS CHICKEN—Fried chicken tenders and dipping sauces galore at this Mid-South staple. 1350 Concourse Ave, Suite 137. 425-2597; (East Memphis) 1591 Poplar Ave. 509-3351; (Cordova) 1100 N. Germantown Pkwy. 754-5355. L, D, $-$$

ABYSSINIA RESTAURANT—Ethiopian/Mediterranean menu includes beef, chicken, lamb, fish entrees, and vegetarian dishes; also a lunch buffet. 2600 Poplar. 321-0082. L, D, X, $-$$

ALCHEMY/ SALT|SOY—Handcrafted cocktails and local craft beers with the Asian fusion dining concept from Salt|Soy. 940 S. Cooper. 726-4444. D, SB, X, $-$$

ART BAR—Inventive cocktails feature locally foraged ingredients; snacks include house-cured salt & vinegar potato chips and herb-roasted olives. Closed Mon. 1350 Concourse Avenue #280. 507-8030. D, X, $

ASHTAR GARDEN—Southern twists on classic brunch dishes, and plenty of cocktails. Closed Mon.-Wed. 898 Cooper St. 4431514. L, D, $-$$

BABALU TACOS & TAPAS—This eatery dishes up Spanish-style tapas with Southern flair; also taco and enchilada of the day; specials change daily. 2115 Madison. 274-0100; 6450 Poplar, 410-8909. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$

BACK DO / MI YARD—A revamped patio space behind The Beauty Shop features rotisserie meats and fishes via Brazilian-style outdoor grill. Dinner Wed.-Sat., weather permitting. 966 S. Cooper, 272-7111. D, X, $$

BAIN BARBECUE & BAKERY—Brian Bain’s popular Texas-style barbecue is back, alongside an assortment of baked goods. 993 S. Cooper. 310-4141. B, L, X, $-$$

BAR DKDC—Features an ever-changing menu of international “street food,” from Thai to Mexican, Israeli to Indian, along with specialty cocktails. 964 S. Cooper. 272-0830. D, X , MRA, $

BAR KEOUGH—It’s old-school eats and cocktails at the new CooperYoung neighborhood corner bar by Kevin Keough. 247 Cooper St. D, X , $

BAR-B-Q SHOP—Dishes up barbecued ribs, spaghetti, bologna, other classics. Closed Sun. 1782 Madison. 272-1277. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$

BARI RISTORANTE ENOTECA—Authentic Southeastern Italian cuisine (Puglia) emphasizes lighter entrees. Serves fresh fish and beef dishes and a homemade soup of the day. 524 S. Cooper. 722-2244. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

BARKSDALE RESTAURANT—Old-school diner serving breakfast and Southern plate lunches. 237 S. Cooper. 722-2193. B, L, D, X, $

BAYOU BAR & GRILL—New Orleans fare at this Overton Square eatery includes jambalaya, gumbo, catfish Acadian, shrimp dishes, red beans and rice, and muffalettas. 2094 Madison. 278-8626. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$

BEAUTY SHOP—Modern American cuisine with international flair served in a former beauty shop. Serves steaks, salads, pasta, and seafood, including pecan-crusted golden sea bass. Perennial “Best Brunch” winner. Closed for dinner Sunday. 966 S. Cooper. 272-7111. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

BOSCOS—Tennessee’s first craft brewery serves a variety of freshly brewed beers as well as wood-fired oven pizzas, pasta, seafood, steaks, and sandwiches. 2120 Madison. 432-2222. L, D, SB (with live jazz), X, MRA, $-$$

BOUNTY ON BROAD—Offering family-style dining, Bounty serves small plates and family-sized platters, with such specialties as chicken-fried quail and braised pork shank. 2519 Broad. 410-8131. L (Sat. and Sun.), D (Mon.-Sat.), SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

BROADWAY PIZZA—Serving a variety of pizzas, including the Broadway Special, as well as sandwiches, salads, wings, and soul-food specials. 2581 Broad. 454-7930; 627 S. Mendenhall. 207-1546. L, D, X, $-$$

CAFE 1912—French/American bistro owned by culinary pioneer Glenn Hays serving such seafood entrees as seared sea scallops with charred cauliflower purée and chorizo cumin sauce; also crepes, salads, and onion soup gratinée. 243 S. Cooper. 722-2700. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

CAFE ECLECTIC—Omelets and chicken and waffles are among menu items, along with quesadillas, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. Menu varies by location. 603 N. McLean. 725-1718; 111 Harbor Town Square. 590-4645. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $

CAFE OLÉ—This eatery specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine; one specialty is the build-your-own quesadilla. 959 S. Cooper. 343-0103. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$

CAFE PALLADIO—Serves gourmet salads, soups, sandwiches, and desserts in a tea room inside the antiques shop. Closed Sun. 2169 Central. 278-0129. L, X, $

CAMEO—Three longtime Memphis bartenders join forces for creative cocktails, cheese boards, snacks, and Sunday brunch. 1835 Union Ave., Suite 3. 305-6511. D, SB, $-$$

CELTIC CROSSING—Specializes in Irish and American pub fare. Entrees include shepherd’s pie, shrimp and sausage coddle, and fish and chips. 903 S. Cooper. 274-5151. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$

CENTRAL BBQ—Serves ribs, smoked hot wings, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken, turkey, nachos, and portobello sandwiches. Offers both pork and beef barbecue. 2249 Central Ave. 272-9377; 4375 Summer Ave. 767-4672; 147 E. Butler. 672-7760 ; 6201 Poplar. 4177962. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$

COMPLICATED PILGRIM—Quick-serve coffee shop, bar, and restaurant all in one at The Memphian hotel. 21 S. Cooper St. 538-7309. B, L, D, $-$$

THE COVE—Nautical-themed restaurant and bar serving oysters, pizzas, and more. The Stoner Pie, with tamales and fritos, is a popular dish. 2559 Broad. 730-0719. L, D, $

THE CRAZY NOODLE—Korean noodle dishes range from bibam beef noodle with cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables, to curry chicken noodle; also rice cakes served in a flavorful sauce. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 2015 Madison. 272-0928. L, D, X, $

EAT AT BLACK LODGE—High-end breakfasts, like waffle grilled cheese sandwiches, nacho and tater-tot “tot-chos,” and other entrees like sweet spicy thai pork at the longtime video store. Now with Masquerade cocktail bar. Closed Mon./Tue. 405 N. Cleveland. 672-7905. L, D, X, $-$$

ECCO—Mediterranean-inspired specialties range from rib-eye steak to seared scallops to housemade pastas and a grilled vegetable plate; also a Saturday brunch. Closed Sun.-Mon. 1585 Overton Park. 410-8200. B, L, D, X, $-$$

EVELYN & OLIVE—Jamaican/Southern fusion cuisine includes such dishes as Kingston stew fish, Rasta Pasta, and jerk rib-eye. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun.-Mon. 150 N. Avalon St. 748-5422. L, D, X , $

FABIOLA’S KITCHEN—Longtime caterer Fabiola Francis serves up burgers, tacos, fish, and much more. 1353 Jackson Ave. B, L, $

FARM BURGER—Serves grass-fed, freshly ground, locally sourced burgers; also available with chicken, pork, or veggie quinoa patties, with such toppings as aged white cheddar, kale coleslaw, and roasted beets. 1350 Concourse Avenue, Suite 175. 800-1851. L, D, X, $

THE FARMER AT RAILGARTEN—Farmer classics include panseared catfish, gulf shrimp and grits, or a Gibson donut bread pudding. Closed Mon./Tue. 2166 Central. 313-0087. D, X, $-$$

FINO’S FROM THE HILL—Italian deli offers old favorites such as the Acquisto as well as a new breakfast menu Germantown location paired with Happy Glaze Donuts. 1853 Madison. 272-FINO; 7781 Farmington Blvd. (Germantown). B, L, D, X, $

FLAME RAMEN—Traditional Japanese ramen restaurant serving up bowls of noodles in Midtown. 1838 Union Ave. 779-8666; 61 S. Second St., Suite 160 (Downtown). D, $-$$

FLIP SIDE—Pinball meets pub in the Crosstown neighborhood, with plenty of games alongside a Caribbean- and Latin-inspired menu. Closed Mon. 1349 Autumn Ave. 207-6193. L, D, X, $-$$

FRIDA’S—Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex standards, including chimichangas, enchiladas, and fajitas; seafood includes shrimp and tilapia. 1718 Madison. 244-6196. L, D, X, $-$$

GLOBAL CAFÉ—This international food hall hosts three immigrant/ refugee food entrepreneurs serving Venezuelan, Sudanese, and Syrian cuisines. Samosas, shawarma, and kabobs are among the menu items. Closed Mon. 1350 Concourse Avenue, Suite 157. L, D, X, MRA, $

GOLDEN INDIA—Northern Indian specialties include tandoori chicken as well as lamb, beef, shrimp, and vegetarian dishes. 2097 Madison. 728-5111. L, D, X, $-$$

GROWLERS—Sports bar and eatery serves standard bar fare in addition to pasta, tacos, chicken and waffles, and light options. 1911 Poplar. 244-7904. L, D, X, $-$$

GUAC FRESH MEX—Authentic Mexican cuisine and four types of guacamole. Closed Sun. 782 Washington Ave. 587-4100. L, D, X, $

HATTIE B’S—Fried chicken spot features “hot chicken” with a variety of heat levels; from no heat to “shut the cluck up” sauce. Sides include greens, pimento mac-and-cheese, and black-eyed pea salad. 596 S. Cooper. 424-5900. L, D, X, $

HUEY’S—This family-friendly restaurant offers 13 different burgers, a variety of sandwiches, and delicious soups and salads. 1927 Madison. 726-4372; 1771 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 7543885; 77 S. Second (Downtown). 527-2700; 2130 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-4455; 7090 Malco Blvd. (Southaven). 662-349-7097; 7825 Winchester. 624-8911; 4872 Poplar. 682-7729; 7677 Farmington Blvd. (Germantown). 318-3030; 8570 Highway 51 N. (Millington). 873-5025. L, D, X, MRA, $

IMAGINE VEGAN CAFE—Dishes at this fully vegan restaurant range from salads and sandwiches to full dinners, including eggplant parmesan and “beef” tips and rice; breakfast all day Sat. and Sun. 2158 Young. 654-3455. L, D, WB, X, $

INDIA PALACE—Tandoori chicken, lamb shish kabobs, and chicken tikka masala are among the entrees; also, vegetarian options and a daily all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. 1720 Poplar. 278-1199. L, D, X, $-$$

INSPIRE COMMUNITY CAFE—Serving breakfast all day, in addition to quesadillas, rice bowls, and more for lunch and dinner. 510 Tillman, Suite 110. 509-8640. B, L, D, X, $

JACK’S BROWN BEER AND BURGER JOINT—Another spot to satisfy your burger craving this time with 100% American Wagyu beef. 2197 Central Ave. 512-6957. L, D, X, $-$$$

KNIFEBIRD—Neighborhood wine bar boasts plenty of flights, cocktails, and mocktails alongside bruschetta and charcuterie boards. Closed Sun. 2155 Central Ave. 748-5425. D, $-$$$

LAFAYETTE’S MUSIC ROOM—Serves such Southern cuisine as po’boys, shrimp and grits, and wood-fired pizzas. 2119 Madison. 2075097. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$

LOS COMALES—Authentic Mexican cuisine, daily specials, and strong margaritas. 1322 Madison. 440-8393; 345 Madison Ave (Downtown). 590-4524; 2860 S. Perkins (East Memphis). 369-0528. L, D, X, $-$$

THE LIQUOR STORE—Renovated liquor store turned diner serves all-day breakfast, sandwiches, and entrees such as Salisbury steak and smothered pork chops. 2655 Broad. 405-5477; 669 S. Mendenhall Rd. (East Memphis). B, L, D, X, $-$$

LOUIS CONNELLY’S BAR FOR FUN TIMES & FRIENDSHIP—An upgraded dive bar with a neighborhood feel and a rockin’ SMASH burger. Closed Sun. and Mon. 322 S. Cleveland St. 433-9582. L, D, X, $-$$

MAXIMO’S ON BROAD—Serving a tapas menu that features creative fusion cuisine; entrees include veggie paella and fish of the day. Closed Mon. 2617 Broad Ave. 452-1111. D, SB, X, $-$$

MEMPHIS PIZZA CAFE—Homemade pizzas are specialties; also serves sandwiches, calzones, and salads. 2087 Madison. 726-5343; 5061 Park Ave. 684-1306; 7604 W. Farmington (Germantown). 7532218; 797 W. Poplar (Collierville). 861-7800; 5627 Getwell (Southaven). 662-536-1364. L, D, X, $-$$

MEMPHIS WHISTLE—Cocktails, cocktails, and even more delicious cocktails alongside burgers, sandwiches, and other tasty snacks. 2299 Young Ave. Closed Mon.-Tue. 236-7136. D, X, $-$$

MOLLY’S LA CASITA—Homemade tamales, fish tacos, a vegetarian combo, and bacon-wrapped shrimp are a few of the specialties. 2006 Madison. 726-1873. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$


PAYNE’S BAR-B-QUE—Opened in 1972, this family-owned barbecue joint serves ribs, smoked sausage, and chopped pork sandwiches with a standout mustard slaw and homemade sauce. About as down-to-earth as it gets. 1762 Lamar. 272-1523. L, D, $-$$

THE PUBLIC BISTRO—Knifebird owners’ full-service American bistro with a menu by chef Gannon Hamilton. 937 S. Cooper St. Closed Sun. 509-2113. D, $-$$

ROBATA RAMEN & YAKITORI BAR—Serves ramen noodle bowls and Yakitori skewers as well as rice and noodle dishes. 2116 Madison. 410-8290. L, D, X, $

SALTWATER CRAB—Offers an array of seafood dishes including boils with blue crab, crab legs, lobster tails, and more, and specialty sushi like the Dynamite or Royal King rolls, in addition to signature sangrias and cocktails. 2059 Madison Ave. 922-5202. L, D, X, $$

THE SECOND LINE—Kelly English brings “relaxed Creole cuisine” to his newest eatery; serves a variety of po’boys and such specialties as barbecue shrimp, andouille shrimp, and pimento cheese fries. 2144 Monroe. 590-2829. L, D, WB, X, $-$$

SEKISUI—Japanese fusion cuisine, fresh sushi bar, grilled meats and seafood, California rolls, and vegetarian entrees. Poplar/ Perkins location’s emphasis is on Pacific Rim cuisine. Menu and hours vary at each location. 25 Belvedere. 725-0005; 1884 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 309-8800; 4724 Poplar. 767-7770; 2130 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-0622; 2990 Kirby-Whitten (Bartlett). 377-2727; 6696 Poplar. 747-0001. L, D, X, $-$$$

SHROOMLICIOUS MEALS—Vegan eatery with a heavy blend of (as the name implies) mushrooms. Closed Mon. and Tues. 394 N. Watkins St. 205-8413. L, D, X, $

SLICE MIDTOWN—Serving New York-style pizza as well as subs and pasta dishes (formerly known as Little Italy). 1495 Union. 725-0280; L, D, X, $-$$

SOUL FISH CAFE—Serving Southern-style soul food, tacos, and po’boys, including catfish, crawfish, oyster, shrimp, chicken, and smoked pork tenderloin. 862 S. Cooper. 725-0722; 3160 Village Shops Dr. (Germantown). 755-6988; 4720 Poplar. 590-0323. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$

STICKEM—Brick-and-mortar location for the popular food truck, which offers grilled meat on a stick. 1788 Madison. Closed Sunday. 474-7214. L, D, X, $

TAMBOLI’S PASTA & PIZZA—Pasta-maker Miles Tamboli whips up Italian soul food with seasonal menus featuring dishes like crispy fried chicken or creamy bucatini with pecorino cheese. Serves dinner Tues.-Sat. 1761 Madison. 410-8866. D, X, $-$$

TAKASHI BISTRO—Fusion restaurant with an open kitchen that lets customers watch chefs prepare a variety of Japanese and Thai cuisine. 1680 Union Ave., Suite 109. 800-2936. L, D, $-$$.

TJ MULLIGAN’S—Cold drinks, comfort food, and plenty of live entertainment. 2021 Madison. 725-0770; 1817 Kirby Pkwy (East Memphis). 755-2481; 8070 Trinity Rd. #1 (Cordova). 756-4480; 2821 N. Houston Levee Rd (Lakeland). 377-9997. L, D, X, $-$$

TONICA—Paella and other Spanish-inspired dishes with an Italian touch, alongside an extensive list of gin and tonics. 1545 Overton Park. Closed Mon.-Wed. D, X, $-$$

TSUNAMI—Features Pacific Rim cuisine (Asia, Australia, South Pacific, etc.); also a changing “small plate” menu. Chef Ben Smith is a Cooper-Young pioneer. Specialties include Asian nachos and roasted sea bass. Closed Sunday. 928 S. Cooper. 274-2556. D, X,, MRA, $$-$$$

TUYEN’S ASIAN BISTRO—A variety of Asian dishes from the minds and chefs behind Saigon Le. Closed Sun. 288 N. Cleveland. L, D, X, $-$$

VIBE FOODS—By way of Colorado, superfood bar serves up clean and delicious meals and juices. Closed Sun. 1350 Concourse Ave. 572-1127; 3139 Poplar Ave. (East Memphis). 207-2535. B, L, X, $-$$

ZINNIE’S—Dive bar classic reopens with a makeover and signature Zinnaloni sandwich. 1688 Madison. 726-5004. L, D, X, $


BALA’S BISTRO—Authentic West African cuisine available to order or by the pound, alongside traditional American dishes and an extensive vegan menu. 4571 Elvis Presley Blvd. 509-3024. L, D, $-$$

CACHE 42 KITCHEN & COCKTAILS—Elevated fine dining (think golden rack of lamb or lobster queso) and cocktail lounge at MoneyBagg Yo’s restaurant; menu by chef Daris Leatherwood. Brunch and lunch options coming soon. 4202 Hacks Cross Rd., Suite 121. 494-5458. D, $-$$

COLETTA’S—Longtime eatery serves such specialties as homemade ravioli, lasagna, and pizza with barbecue or traditional toppings. 1063

CURRY BOWL—Specializes in Southern Indian cuisine, serving Tandoori chicken, biryani, tikka masala, and more. Weekend buffet. 4141 Hacks Cross Rd. 207-6051. L, D, $

DELTA’S KITCHEN—The premier restaurant at The Guest House at Graceland serves Elvis-inspired dishes — like Nutella and Peanut Butter Crepes for breakfast — and upscale Southern cuisine — including lamb chops and shrimp and grits — for dinner. 3600 Elvis Presley Blvd. 443-3000. B, D, X, $-$$$

DWJ KOREAN BARBECUE—This authentic Korean eatery serves kimbap, barbecued beef short ribs, rice and noodles dishes, and hot pots and stews. 3750 Hacks Cross Rd., Suite 101. 746-8057; 2156 Young. 207-6204. L, D, $-$$

FABULOUS FLAVORS & FRIENDS ”The Candy Lady” Precious Thompson Jones comes up with a little bit of everything: omelettes, quesadillas, t-bones and waffles, and plenty of soul food. 2063 E. Brooks Rd. 314-0735. L, D, $

THE FOUR WAY—Legendary soul-food establishment dishing up such entrees as fried and baked catfish, chicken, and turkey and dressing, along with a host of vegetables and desserts. Around the corner from the legendary Stax Studio. Closed Mon. 998 Mississippi Blvd. 507-1519. L, D, $

HERNANDO’S HIDEAWAY No one cares how late it gets; not at Hernando’s Hideaway. Live music, killer happy hour, and plenty of bar fare at this South Memphis hang. 3210 Old Hernando Rd. 917-982-1829. L, D, $

INTERSTATE BAR-B-Q—Specialties include chopped pork-shoulder sandwiches, ribs, hot wings, spaghetti, chicken, and turkey. 2265 S. Third. 775-2304; 150 W. Stateline Rd. (Southaven). 662-393-5699. L, D, X, $-$$

JIM & SAMELLA’S—It’s a revolving menu of soul food delight from Chef Talbert Fleming, with anything from Southern ribs to fried tamales. 841 Bullington Ave. 265-8761. L, D, X, $

LEONARD’S—Serves wet and dry ribs, barbecue sandwiches, spaghetti, catfish, homemade onion rings, and lemon icebox pie; also a lunch buffet. 5465 Fox Plaza. 360-1963. L, X, $-$$

MARLOWE’S—In addition to its signature barbecue and ribs, Marlowe’s serves Southern-style steaks, chops, lasagna, and more. 4381 Elvis Presley Blvd. 332-4159. D, X, MRA, $-$$

UNCLE LOU’S FRIED CHICKEN—Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for good reason: fried chicken (mild, hot, or home-style); jumbo burgers four patties high; strawberry shortcake, and assorted fruit pies. 3633 Millbranch. 332-2367. L, D, X, MRA, $


901 HOT POT & KOREAN BBQ—All-you-can-eat hot pot and Korean BBQ, from short ribs to garlic shrimp. 2965 N. Germantown Pkwy. 512-4963. L, D, X, $$-$$$

BISCUITS & JAMS—Biscuits, waffles, French toast, and plenty of sharables at this Bartlett breakfast spot. Closed Mon./Tue. 5806 Stage Rd. 672-7905. B, L, X, $

BRYANT’S BREAKFAST—Slingin’ famous biscuits, plate lunches, chicken fried steak, and other breakfast classics since 1968. 3965 Summer Ave. 324-7494. B, L, $

CEVICHERIA AND GRILL CHILEMON—Ceviche, of course, but also plenty of other postres, aperitivos, and mixed grilled meat and seafood feasts. Closed Sun. 4509 Summer Ave. 672-7905. L, D, $

CHEF FLAVAS AND BARTLETT BREAKFAST FACTORY ”Flavaful” sandwiches, soups, pastas, and more from the makers of the popular local spinach artichoke dip. Traditional breakfast options served by Bartlett Breakfast Factory. Closed Sun./Mon. 6301 Stage Rd. 779-2200. B, L, D, X, $-$$

DIM SUM KING—All the best from a selection of authentic Chinese dishes: roasted duck, sizzling hot plate, Cantonese BBQ, and plenty more. 5266 Summer Ave. #65. 766-0831. L, D, X, $-$$

ELWOOD’S SHACK—Casual comfort food includes tacos, pizza, and sandwiches. Specialties include meats smoked in-house (chicken, turkey, brisket, pork), barbecue pizza, and steelhead trout tacos. 4523 Summer. 761-9898; 4040 Park Ave. 754-2520. B, L, D, X, $

EXLINES’ BEST PIZZA—Serves pizza, Italian dinners, sandwiches, and salads. 6250 Stage Rd. 382-3433; 2935 Austin Peay. 388-4711; 2801 Kirby Parkway. 754-0202; 7730 Wolf River Blvd. (Germantown). 753-4545; 531 W. Stateline Rd. 662-342-4544. L, D, X , MRA, $

FANATIC SPORTS BAR AND WING FANATIC—Sports bar and hot wing joint folded into one, with plenty of screens to watch the big game. 2857 Appling Way. 695-3243. L, D, $-$$

LA TAQUERIA GUADALUPANA—Fajitas and quesadillas are just a few of the authentic Mexican entrees offered here. A bonafide Memphis institution. 4818 Summer. 685-6857; 5848 Winchester. 365-4992. L, D, X, $

LOTUS—Authentic Vietnamese-Asian fare, including lemon-grass chicken and shrimp, egg rolls, Pho soup, and spicy Vietnamese vermicelli. 4970 Summer. 682-1151. D, X, $

MORTIMER’S—Contemporary American entrees include trout almondine, chicken dishes, and hand-cut steaks; also sandwiches, salads, and daily/nightly specials. A Memphis landmark since the Knickerbocker closed. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 590 N. Perkins. 7619321. L, D, X, $-$$

NAGASAKI INN—Chicken, steak, and lobster are among the main courses; meal is cooked at your table. 3951 Summer. 454-0320. D, X, $$

NAM KING—General Tso’s chicken, hot and sour soup, and homemade chicken wings are back at the longtime Raleigh Chinese eatery. 3624 Austin Peay Highway, #3. 373-4411. L, D, $-$$

ÓRALE TACOS & BAKERY—Tacos, enchiladas, and other traditional Southern Mexican dishes alongside baked pan dulces. 2204 Whitten Rd. 571-1786. B, L, D, $-$$

PANDA GARDEN—Sesame chicken and broccoli beef are among the Mandarin and Cantonese entrees; also seafood specials and fried rice. Closed for lunch Saturday. 3735 Summer. 323-4819. L, D, X, $-$$

QUEEN OF SHEBA—Featuring Middle Eastern favorites and Yemeni dishes such as lamb haneeth and saltah. 4792 Summer. 207-4174. L, D, $

SIDE PORCH STEAK HOUSE—In addition to steak, the menu includes chicken, pork chops, and fish entrees; homemade rolls are a specialty. Closed Sun./Mon. 5689 Stage Rd. 377-2484. D, X, $-$$

TORTILLERIA LA UNICA—Individual helping of Mexican street food, including hefty tamales, burritos, tortas, and sopes. 5015 Summer Ave. 685-0097. B, L, D, X, $



A-TAN—Serves Chinese and Japanese hibachi cuisine, complete with sushi bar. A specialty is Four Treasures with garlic sauce. 3445 Poplar, Suite 17, University Center. 452-4477. L, D, X, $-$$$

THE BLUFF—New Orleans-inspired menu includes alligator bites, nachos topped with crawfish and andouille, gumbo, po’boys, and fried seafood platters. 535 S. Highland. 454-7771. L, D, X, $-$$

BROTHER JUNIPER’S—This little cottage is a breakfast mecca, offering specialty omelets, including the open-faced San Diegan omelet; also daily specials, and homemade breads and pastries. Closed Mon. 3519 Walker. 324-0144. B, X, $

CELEBRITY’S SOUL FOOD—Classic soul food dishes coupled with a Hollywood-esque VIP experience. 431 S. Highland St., Suite 105. L, D, X, $$

CHAR RESTAURANT—Specializing in modern Southern cuisine, this eatery offers homestyle sides, charbroiled steaks, and fresh seafood. 431 S. Highland, Suite 120. 249-3533. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$

EL PORTON—Fajitas, quesadillas, and steak ranchero are just a few of the menu items. 2095 Merchants Row (Germantown). 754-4268; 8361 Highway 64. 380-7877; 3448 Poplar (Poplar Plaza). 452-7330; 1805 N. Germantown Parkway (Cordova). 624-9358; 1016 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-5770. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$

MEDALLION—Offers steaks, seafood, chicken, and pasta entrees. Closed for dinner Sunday. 3700 Central, Holiday Inn (Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality). 678-1030. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

PLANT BASED HEAT All of your favorite Southern-style recipes, but deliciously transformed into a vegan format. Specialties include the spicy fye junt burger, or the chopped ‘n’ smoked bbq jackfruit sandwich. Closed Sun. 669 S. Highland St.; 363 S. Front St. (Downtown). L, D, $

SAM’S DELI—Everything from sandwiches to bibimbap bowls at this local favorite. Closed Mon./Tue. 643 S. Highland St. 454-5582. L, D, $


ACRE—Features seasonal modern American cuisine in an avantegarde setting using locally sourced products; also small plates and enclosed garden patio. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 690 S. Perkins. 818-2273. L, D, X, $$-$$$

AGAVOS COCINA & TEQUILA—Camaron de Tequila, tamales, kabobs, and burgers made with a blend of beef and chorizo are among the offerings at this tequila-centric restaurant and bar. 2924 Walnut Grove. 433-9345. L, D, X, $-$$

S. Parkway E. 948-7652; 2850 Appling Rd. (Bartlett). 383-1122. L, D, X, $-$$

AMERIGO—Traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine includes pasta, wood-fired pizza, steaks, and cedarwood-roasted fish. 1239 Ridgeway, Park Place Mall. 761-4000. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

ANDALUSIA— Authentic Moroccan cuisine, including tagines, brochettes, and briouates. 5101 Sanderlin Ave., Suite 103. 236-7784. L, D, $-$$

ANDREW MICHAEL ITALIAN KITCHEN—Traditional Italian cuisine with a menu from two of the city’s top chefs that changes seasonally with such entrees as Maw Maw’s ravioli. Closed Sun.-Mon. 712 W. Brookhaven Circle. 347-3569. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$

ANOTHER BROKEN EGG CAFE—Offering several varieties of eggs Benedict, waffles, omelets, pancakes, beignets, and other breakfast fare; also burgers, sandwiches, and salads. 6063 Park Ave. 729-7020; 65 S. Highland. 623-7122. B, L, WB, X, $

ANTIGUA MEXICAN BAR & GRILL—Tortas, tacos, and other authentic Mexican cuisine alongside freshly-made salsa, guacamole, and white queso dip. 717 N. White Station Rd. 761-1374. L, D, $-$$

BANGKOK ALLEY—Thai fusion cuisine includes noodle and curry dishes, chef-specialty sushi rolls, coconut soup, and duck and seafood entrees. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. at Brookhaven location; call for hours. 715 W. Brookhaven Circle. 590-2585; 2150 W. Poplar at Houston Levee (Collierville). 854-8748. L, D, X, $-$$

BELLE MEADE SOCIAL—Upscale Americana cuisine including lamb lollipops, spicy tuna stack, and steak & noodle salad. 518 Perkins Extd. 480-7054. L, D, $-$$$

BELMONT GRILL—Burgers, steak sandwiches, and other classic American fare at one of Memphis’ longstanding bars. 4970 Poplar. 767-0305. L, D, X, $-$$

BENIHANA—This Japanese steakhouse serves beef, chicken, and seafood grilled at the table; some menu items change monthly; sushi bar also featured. 912 Ridge Lake Blvd. 767-8980. L, D, X, $$-$$$

BIG BAD BREAKFAST—Fresh biscuits, house-made cured meats, jams, jellies, and more for the most important meal of the day. 6450 Poplar. 881-3346. B, L, X, $-$$

BOG & BARLEY—An all-Irish fine dining experience by the owners of Celtic Crossing, and a full bar with plenty of beer and 25-year-old Macallan. 6150 Poplar, Suite 124. 805-2262. L, D, WB, X, $-$$

BROOKLYN BRIDGE ITALIAN RESTAURANT—Specializing in such homemade entrees as spinach lasagna and lobster ravioli; a seafood specialty is horseradish-crusted salmon. Closed Sun. 1779 Kirby Pkwy. 755-7413. D, X, $-$$$

BRYANT’S BREAKFAST—Three-egg omelets, pancakes, and The Sampler Platter are among the popular entrees here. Possibly the best biscuits in town. Closed Mon. and Tues. 3965 Summer. 324-7494. B, L, X, $

BUCKLEY’S FINE FILET GRILL—Specializes in steaks, seafood, and pasta. (Lunchbox serves entree salads, burgers, and more.) 5355 Poplar. 683-4538; 919 S. Yates (Buckley’s Lunchbox), 682-0570. L (Yates only, M-F), D, X, $-$$

CAPITAL GRILLE—Known for its dry-aged, hand-carved steaks; among the specialties are bone-in sirloin, and porcini-rubbed Delmonico; also seafood entrees and seasonal lunch plates. Closed for lunch Sat.Sun. Crescent Center, 6065 Poplar. 683-9291. L, D, X, $$$-$$$$

CASABLANCA—Lamb shawarma is one of the fresh, homemade specialties served at this Mediterranean/Moroccan restaurant; fish entrees and vegetarian options also available. 5030 Poplar. 725-8557; 1707 Madison. 421-6949. L, D, X, $-$$

CHUKIS TACOS 2—Traditional homestyle Mexican recipes. 3445 Poplar Ave., Suite 1. 888-4139. B, L, D, $-$$

CIAO BELLA—Among the Italian and Greek specialties are lasagna, seafood pasta, gourmet pizzas, and vegetarian options. 5101 Sanderlin Ave. 205-2500. D, X, MRA, $-$$$

CITY SILO TABLE + PANTRY—With a focus on clean eating, this establishment offers fresh juices, as well as comfort foods re-imagined with wholesome ingredients. 5101 Sanderlin. 729-7687. Germantown: 7605 W. Farmington Blvd., Suite 2. 236-7223. B, L, D, X, $

COASTAL FISH COMPANY—Upscale offerings of international fish varieties utilizing styles ranging from Carribbean, East Coast, West Coast, Chinese, to Filipino, and more. 415 Great View Dr. E., Suite 101. 266-9000. D, X, $$-$$$

CORKY’S—Popular barbecue emporium offers both wet and dry ribs, plus a full menu of other barbecue entrees. Wed. lunch buffets, Cordova and Collierville. 5259 Poplar. 685-9744; 1740 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 737-1911; 743 W. Poplar (Collierville). 405-4999; 6434 Goodman Rd., Olive Branch. 662-893-3663. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$

DAN MCGUINNESS PUB—Serves fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, burgers, and other Irish and American fare; also lunch and dinner specials. 4694 Spottswood. 761-3711; 3964 Goodman Rd. 662-8907611. L, D, X, $

DORY—Chef David Krog whips up Southern specialties with classic French techniques and locally sourced ingredients. Current specialties include pork tenderloin, beef bourguignon, or cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles, with new weekly additions. 716 W. Brookhaven Circle. 310-4290. L, D, X, $$-$$$

ERLING JENSEN—For decades, has presented “globally inspired” cuisine to die for. Specialties are rack of lamb, big-game entrees, and fresh fish dishes. 1044 S. Yates. 763-3700. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$

ERLING JENSEN SMALL BITES—Enjoy Erling Jensen’s specialty dishes in a sharable, small-plate format alongside TopGolf Swing suites. 5069 Sanderlin Ave. 587-9464. L, D, X, $-$$$

FLEMING’S PRIME STEAKHOUSE—Serves wet-aged and dry-aged steaks, prime beef, chops, and seafood, including salmon, Australian lobster tails, and a catch of the day. 6245 Poplar. 761-6200. D, X, MRA, $$$-$$$$


Specializes in prime steaks, as well as lobster, grilled Scottish salmon, Alaskan king crab legs, rack of lamb, and weekly specials. 551 S. Mendenhall. 762-8200. D, X, MRA, $$$-$$$$

FORMOSA—Offers Mandarin cuisine, including broccoli beef, hot-andsour soup, and spring rolls. Closed Mon. 6685 Quince. 753-9898. L, D, X, $-$$

FOX RIDGE PIZZA & GRILL—Pizzas, calzones, sub sandwiches, burgers, and meat-and-two plate lunches are among the dishes served at this eatery, which opened in 1979. 711 W. Brookhaven Circle. 758-6500. L, D, X, $

FRATELLI’S—Serves hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts, all with an Italian/Mediterranean flair. Closed Sun. 750 Cherry Rd., Memphis Botanic Garden. 766-9900. L, X, $

FRANK GRISANTI ITALIAN RESTAURANT—Northern Italian favorites include pasta with jumbo shrimp and mushrooms; also seafood, filet mignon, and daily lunch specials. Closed for lunch Sun. Embassy Suites Hotel, 1022 S. Shady Grove. 761-9462. L, D, X, $-$$$

HALF SHELL—Specializes in seafood, such as king crab legs; also serves steaks, chicken, pastas, salads, sandwiches, a ”voodoo menu”; oyster bar at Winchester location. 688 S. Mendenhall. 682-3966; 7825 Winchester. 737-6755. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$

HEN HOUSE—Hybrid wine/cocktail bar and tasting room with plenty of cosmopolitan eats. Closed Sun. 679 S. Mendenhall. 499-5436. D, $-$$$

HIGH POINT PIZZA—Serves a variety of pizzas, subs, salads, and sides. Closed Mon. A neighborhood fixture. 477 High Point Terrace. 452-3339. L, D, X, $-$$

HOG & HOMINY—The casual sister to Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen serves brick-oven-baked pizzas, including the Red-Eye with pork belly, and small plates with everything from meatballs to beef and cheddar hot dogs; and local veggies. And with a few surprises this time around. Closed for lunch Mon. 707 W. Brookhaven Cir. 207-7396. L, D, SB, X, MRA. $-$$$

HOUSTON’S—Serves steaks, seafood, pork chops, chicken dishes, sandwiches, salads, and Chicago-style spinach dip. Famous for first-class service. 5000 Poplar. 683-0915. L, D, X $-$$$

LA BAGUETTE—An almond croissant and chicken salad are among specialties at this French-style bistro. Closed for dinner Sun. 3088 Poplar. 458-0900. B, L, D (closes at 7), X, MRA, $

LAS DELICIAS—Popular for its guacamole, house-made tortilla chips, and margaritas, this restaurant draws diners with its chicken enchiladas, meat-stuffed flautas, and Cuban torta with spicy pork. Closed Sun. 4002 Park Ave. 458-9264; 5689 Quince. 800-2873. L, D, X, $

LIBRO AT LAURELWOOD—Bookstore eatery features a variety of sandwiches, salads, and homemade pasta dishes, with Italian-inspired options such as carbonara and potato gnocchi. Closed for dinner Sun. 387 Perkins Ext. (Novel). 800-2656. B, L, D, SB, X, $-$$

LITTLE ITALY EAST—New York-style pizzas galore and homemade pasta. Closed Sun. 6300 Poplar Ave., Ste. 113. 729-7432. L, $-$$

LOST PIZZA—Offering pizzas (with dough made from scratch), pasta, salads, sandwiches, tamales, and more. 2855 Poplar. 572-1803; 5960 Getwell (Southaven). 662-892-8684. L, D, X, $-$$

MAGNOLIA & MAY—Southern-inspired, family-owned, casual dining restaurant serving up a variety of sandwiches, chef-inspired dishes, and craft cocktails. Popular items include shrimp and grits and

the double cheeseburger. Closed Mon. 718 Mt. Moriah Rd. 676-8100. L, D, WB, X, MRA. $$-$$$.

MAHOGANY MEMPHIS—Upscale Southern restaurant offers such dishes as coffee-rubbed lamb chops and baked Cajun Cornish hen. Closed for dinner Sun. and all day Mon.-Tues. 3092 Poplar, Suite 11. 623-7977. L, D, SB, X, $-$$$

MARCIANO MEDITERRANEAN AND ITALIAN CUISINE—Veal Saltimbocca with angel-hair pasta and white wine sauce is among the entrees; also steaks, seafood, and gourmet pizza. 780 E. Brookhaven Cir. 682-1660. D, X, $-$$

MAYURI INDIAN CUISINE—Serves tandoori chicken, masala dosa, tikka masala, as well as lamb and shrimp entrees; also a daily lunch buffet, and dinner buffet on Fri.-Sat. 6524 Quince Rd. 753-8755. L, D, X, $-$$

MELLOW MUSHROOM—Large menu includes assortment of pizzas, salads, calzones, hoagies, vegetarian options, and 50 beers on tap. 5138 Park Ave. 562-1211; 9155 Poplar, Shops of Forest Hill (Germantown). 907-0243. L, D, X, $-$$

MOSA ASIAN BISTRO—Specialties include sesame chicken, Thai calamari, rainbow panang curry with grouper fish, and other Pan Asian/ fusion entrees. Closed Mon. 850 S. White Station Rd. 683-8889. L, D, X, MRA, $

NAM KING—Offers luncheon and dinner buffets, dim sum, and such specialties as fried dumplings, pepper steak, and orange chicken. 4594 Yale. 373-4411. L, D, X, $

NAPA CAFE—Among the specialties are miso-marinated salmon over black rice with garlic spinach and shiitake mushrooms. Closed Sun. 5101 Sanderlin, Suite 122. 683-0441. L, D, X, MRA, $$-$$$

ONE & ONLY BBQ—On the menu are pork barbecue sandwiches, platters, wet and dry ribs, smoked chicken and turkey platters, a smoked meat salad, barbecue quesadillas, Brunswick Stew, and Millie’s homemade desserts. 1779 Kirby Pkwy. 751-3615; 567 Perkins Extd. 249-4227. L, D, X, $

ONO POKÉ—This eatery specializes in poké — a Hawaiian dish of fresh fish salad served over rice. Menu includes a variety of poké bowls, like the Kimchi Tuna bowl, or customers can build their own by choosing a base, protein, veggies, and toppings. 3145 Poplar. 618-2955. L, D, X , $

OWEN BRENNAN’S—New Orleans-style menu of beef, chicken, pasta, and seafood; jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and crawfish etouffee are specialties. Closed for dinner Sun. The Regalia, 6150 Poplar. 761-0990. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

PARK + CHERRY—The Dixon offers casual dining within the museum. Seasonal menu features sandwiches, like rustic chicken salad on croissant, as well as salads, snacks, and sweets. Closed for breakfast Sun. and all day Mon. 4339 Park (Dixon Gallery and Gardens). 761-5250. L, X, $ PATRICK’S—Serves barbecue nachos, burgers, and entrees such as fish and chips; also plate lunches and daily specials. 4972 Park. 682-2852. L, D, X, MRA, $

PETE & SAM’S—Serving Memphis for 60-plus years; offers steaks, seafood, and traditional Italian dishes, including homemade ravioli, lasagna, and chicken marsala. 3886 Park. 458-0694. D, X, $-$$$

PF CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO—Specialties are orange peel shrimp, Mongolian beef, and chicken in lettuce wraps; also vegetarian dishes, including spicy eggplant. 1181 Ridgeway Rd., Park Place Centre. 8183889. L, D, X, $-$$

PHO SAIGON—Vietnamese fare includes beef teriyaki, roasted quail, curry ginger chicken, vegetarian options, and a variety of soups. 2946 Poplar. 458-1644. L, D, $

PYRO’S FIRE-FRESH PIZZA—Serving gourmet pizzas cooked in an open-fire oven, wide choice of toppings, and large local and craft beer selection. 1199 Ridgeway. 379-8294; 2035 Union Ave. 208-8857; 2286 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 207-1198; 3592 S. Houston Levee (Collierville). 221-8109. L, D, X, MRA, $

THE READY ROOM—Duck wontons, bananas “Oscar,” and plenty of other bar snacks and entrees at Hook Point Brewing Co.’s taproom. Closed Mon./Tues. 715 W. Brookhaven Cir. 487-6931. L, D, WB, X, $-$$

RED HOOK CAJUN SEAFOOD & BAR—Cajun-style array of seafood including shrimp, mussels, clams, crawfish, and oysters. 3295 Poplar. 207-1960. L, D, X, $-$$

RED KOI—Classic Japanese cuisine offered at this family-run restaurant; hibachi steaks, sushi, seafood, chicken, and vegetables. 5847 Poplar. 767-3456. L, D, X $-$$

RED PIER CAJUN SEAFOOD & BAR—Owners of Red Hook bring more cajun-style seafood dishes. 5901 Poplar Ave. 512-5923. L, D, X, $-$$$

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RESTAURANT IRIS—French Creole-inspired classics, such as Gulf shrimp and rice grits congee served with lap chong sausage and boiled peanuts, are served at this newly remodeled restaurant owned by Chef Kelly English, a Food and Wine “Top Ten.” 4550 Poplar. 5902828. L, D, X, $$-$$$

RIVER OAKS—Chef Jose Gutierrez’s French-style bistro serves seafood and steaks, with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 5871 Poplar Ave. 683-9305. L, D, X, $$$

RONNIE GRISANTI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT— This Memphis institution serves some family classics such as Elfo’s Special and handmade ravioli, along with house-made pizza and fresh oysters. Closed Sun. 6150 Poplar, Suite 122. 850-0191. D, X, $-$$$

ROTOLO’S CRAFT & CRUST—Louisiana-based pizza company’s first Memphis location, whipping up pizza pies with homemade sauces and fresh ingredients, pasta, wings, and other shareables. 681 S. White Station. 454-3352. L, D, X, $-$$

RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE—Offers prime steaks cut and aged in-house, as well as lamb, chicken, and fresh seafood, including lobster. 6120 Poplar. 761-0055. D, X, $$$-$$$$

SALSA—Mexican-Southern California specialties include carnitas, enchiladas verde, and fajitas; also Southwestern seafood dishes such as snapper verde. Closed Sun. Regalia Shopping Center, 6150 Poplar, Suite 129. 683-6325. L, D, X, $-$$

SEASONS 52—This elegant fresh grill and wine bar offers a seasonally changing menu using fresh ingredients, wood-fire grilling, and brick-oven cooking; also a large international wine list and nightly piano bar. Crescent Center, 6085 Poplar. 682-9952. L, D, X, $$-$$$

STAKS—Offering pancakes, including birthday cake and lemon ricotta. Menu includes other breakfast items such as beignets and French toast, as well as soups and sandwiches for lunch. 4615 Poplar. 509-2367; 3660 S. Houston Levee Road, Suite 104 (Collierville). 286-4335; 7704 Poplar (Germantown). 800-1951; 2902 May Blvd. (Southaven). B, L, WB, X, $

SWANKY’S TACO SHOP—Taco-centric eatery offers tortas, flatbreads, quesadillas, chimichangas, burgers, and more. 4770 Poplar. 730-0763; 6641 Poplar (Germantown). 737-2088; 272 S. Main. 7793499. L, D, X, $

THREE LITTLE PIGS—Pork-shoulder-style barbecue with tangy mild or hot sauce, freshly made coleslaw, and baked beans. 5145 Quince Rd. 685-7094. B, L, D, X, $

TOPS BAR-B-Q—Specializes in pork barbecue sandwiches and sandwich plates with beans and slaw; also serves ribs, beef brisket, and burgers. 1286 Union. 725-7527; 4183 Summer. 324-4325; 5391 Winchester. 794-7936; 3970 Rhodes. 323-9865; 6130 Macon. 3710580. For more locations, go online. L, D, X, $

TORCHY’S TACOS—Plenty of Tex-Mex variety, with creative monthly special tacos. 719 S. Mendenhall. 343-8880. B, L, D, X, $

VENICE KITCHEN—Specializes in “eclectic Italian” and Southern Creole, from pastas, including the “Godfather,” to hand-tossed pizzas, including the “John Wayne”; choose from 50 toppings. 368 Perkins Ext. 767-6872. L, D, SB, X, $-$$

WANG’S MANDARIN HOUSE—Offers Mandarin, Cantonese, Szechuan, and spicy Hunan entrees, including the golden-sesame chicken; next door is East Tapas, serving small plates with an Asian twist. 6065 Park Ave., Park Place Mall. 763-0676. L, D, X, $-$$

WASABI—Serving traditional Japanese offerings, hibachi, sashimi, and sushi. The Sweet Heart roll, wrapped — in the shape of a heart — with tuna and filled with spicy salmon, yellowtail, and avocado, is a specialty. 5101 Sanderlin Rd., Suite 105. 421-6399. L, D, X, $-$$

THE WING GURU—A staple of the Memphis wing scene, featuring everything from classic buffalo to exquisite lemon pepper. 5699 Mt. Moriah Rd. 509-2405; 875 W. Poplar Ave., Ste. 6 (Collierville). 2217488; 8253 Highway 51, North Suite #103 (Millington). 872-0849; 4130 Elvis Presley Blvd (Whitehaven) 791-4726; 5224 Airline Rd., Ste. 107 (Arlington). 209-0349. L, D, X, $-$$

WOMAN’S EXCHANGE TEA ROOM—Chicken-salad plate, beef tenderloin, soups-and-sandwiches, vegetable plates, and homemade desserts are specialties. Closed Sat.-Sun. 88 Racine. 327-5681. L, X, $


THE BLUE ROOM RESTAURANT—An elevated take on traditional Southern recipes, located in the U of M Kemmons Wilson Culinary Institute. Closed Mon. 1245 N. Germantown Pkwy., Suite 101. 249-7512. D, SB, $$-$$$

BOMBAY HOUSE—Indian fare includes lamb korma and chicken tikka; also, a daily luncheon buffet. 1727 N. Germantown Pkwy. 755-4114. L, D, X, $-$$

THE BUTCHER SHOP—Serves steaks ranging from 8-oz. filets to a 20-oz. porterhouse; also chicken, pork chops, fresh seafood. 107 S. Germantown Rd. 757-4244. L (Fri. and Sun.), D, X, $$-$$$

GREEN BAMBOO—Pineapple tilapia, pork vermicelli, and the soft egg noodle combo are Vietnamese specialties here. 990 N. Germantown Parkway, Suite 104. 753-5488. L, D, $-$$

JIM ’N NICK’S BAR-B-Q—Serves barbecued pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, and fish, along with other homemade Southern specialties. 2359 N. Germantown Pkwy. 388-0998. L, D, X, $-$$

EL MERO TACO—This food truck turned restaurant serves up Mexican and Southern-style fusion dishes, including fried chicken tacos, chorizo con papas tacos, and brisket quesadillas. 8100 Macon Station, Suite 102. 308-1661. Closed Sun.-Mon. L, D, WB, X, $

OPTIONS Burgers, wings, philly cheesesteaks, and more comfort food options. Closed Mon.-Thu. 7940 Fischer Steel Rd. 245-6048. D, SB, $-$$

POKÉ WORLD—Serves up Hawaiian poké bowls filled with rice and diced, raw fish. Also offers Taiwanese bubble tea and rolled ice cream for dessert. 1605 N. Germantown Pkwy., Suite 111. 623-7986. East Memphis: 575 Erin Dr. 779-4971. L, D, $

SHOGUN JAPANESE RESTAURANT—Entrees include tempura, teriyaki, and sushi, as well as grilled fish and chicken entrees. 2324 N. Germantown Pkwy. 384-4122. L, D, X, $-$$

TANNOOR GRILL—Brazilian-style steakhouse with skewers served tableside, along with Middle Eastern specialties; vegetarian options also available. 830 N. Germantown Pkwy. 443-5222. L, D, X, $-$$$


BLUE HONEY BISTRO—Entrees at this upscale eatery include brown butter scallops served with Mississippi blue rice and herbcrusted beef tenderloin with vegetables and truffle butter. Closed Sun. 9155 Poplar, Suite 17. 552-3041. D, X, $-$$$

THE CRAZY COOP—Plenty of hot wings and sauces, plus sandwiches and other dinner plates. 1315 Ridgeway Rd. 748-5325; 7199 Stage Rd. (Bartlett). 433-9212. L, D, $-$$

DIMSUM MEM—Traditional Chinese food truck takes over the New Asia space. 2075 Exeter Rd., Suite 90. L, D, X, $-$$

GERMANTOWN COMMISSARY—Serves barbecue sandwiches, sliders, ribs, shrimp, and nachos, as well as smoked barbecued bologna sandwiches; Mon.-night all-you-can-eat ribs. 2290 S. Germantown Rd. S. 754-5540. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$

LAS TORTUGAS DELI MEXICANA—Authentic Mexican food prepared from local food sources; specializes in tortugas — grilled bread scooped out to hold such powerfully popular fillings as brisket, pork, and shrimp; also tingas, tostados. Closed Sun. 1215 S. Germantown Rd. 751-1200; 6300 Poplar. 623-3882. L, D, X, $-$$

LIMELIGHT—Wolf River Hospitality Group brings Wagyu beef, duck gnocchi, and other fine dining dishes on a rotating seasonal menu. Closed Mon./Tue. 7724 Poplar Pike. 791-2328. D, X, $-$$$

LOCAL LIME—Tacos and margaritas in a casual environment, plus other goodies like the Mexican caramel apple crisp skillet. Closed Mon. 7605 W. Farmington Blvd., Suite 1. 224-2204. L, D, X, $-$$$

MOONDANCE GRILL—From the owners of Itta Bena and Lafayette’s. Serves steak cooked sous vide and seafood dishes including Abita-barbecued shrimp and pan-seared sand dab, in addition to an extensive wine and cocktail list. 1730 S. Germantown Road, Suite 117. 755-1471. L, D, X, $$-$$$

NOODLES ASIAN BISTRO—Serves a variety of traditional Asian cuisine, with emphasis on noodle dishes, such as Singapore Street Noodles and Hong Kong Chow Fun. 7850 Poplar, Suite 12. 755-1117. L, D, X, $

PETALS OF A PEONY—Authentic Sichuan cuisine, from crispy duck to peony fried chicken. Be prepared for spice! 1250 N. Germantown Pkwy. 787-8886. L, D, X, $-$$

PETRA CAFÉ—Serves Greek, Italian, and Middle Eastern sandwiches, gyros, and entrees. Hours vary; call. 6641 Poplar. 754-4440; 547 S. Highland. 323-3050. L, D, X, $-$$

ROCK’N DOUGH PIZZA CO.—Specialty and custom pizzas made from fresh ingredients; wide variety of toppings. 7850 Poplar, Suite 6. 779-2008. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $$

ROYAL PANDA—Hunan fish, Peking duck, Royal Panda chicken and shrimp, and a seafood combo are among the specialties. 3120 Village Shops Dr. 756-9697. L, D, X, $-$$

SAKURA—Sushi, tempura, and teriyaki are Japanese specialties here. 2060 West St. 758-8181; 4840 Poplar. 572-1002; 255 New Byhalia Rd. 316-5638. L, D, X, $-$$

SOUTHERN SOCIAL—Shrimp and grits, stuffed quail, and Aunt Thelma’s Fried Chicken are among the dishes served at this upscale

Southern establishment. 2285 S. Germantown Rd. 754-5555. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$

STONEY RIVER STEAKHOUSE AND GRILL—Specializes in hand-cut steaks, a fresh seafood selection, and plenty of house specials. 7515 Poplar Ave., Suite 101. 207-1100. L, D, X, $$-$$$$

SUFI’S MEDITERRANEAN GRILL & BAR—Offers authentic Mediterranean and Persian cuisine, from hummus shawarma to traditional moussaka. Closed Mon. 7609 Poplar Pike. 779-2200. L, D, X, $-$$$

TAZIKI’S—Mediterranean-inspired dishes all made from scratch. 7850 Poplar Ave., Suite 26. 612-2713. East Memphis: 540 S. Mendenhall Rd. 290-1091. Bartlett: 7974 US-64. 203-0083. L, D, $

THE TOASTED YOLK CAFE—Churro donuts, signature Eggs Benedict, and plenty other boozy brunch options at this franchise’s first Tennessee location. 9087 Poplar Ave., Ste. 11. B, L, X, $-$$

UNCLE GOYO’S—More than 30 dishes with a focus on authentic Mexican cuisine, from the brains behind TacoNganas. 1730 S. Germantown Rd. L, D, X, $-$$

WEST STREET DINER—This home-style eatery offers breakfast, burgers, po’boys, and more. 2076 West St. 757-2191. B, L, D (Mon.-Fri.), X, $

ZEN JAPANESE FINE CUISINE—A full sushi bar and plenty of authentic Japanese dishes, like Hibachi or Wagyu beef. 1730 S. Germantown Rd. 779-2796. L, D, X, X, $-$$$


CAFE PIAZZA BY PAT LUCCHESI—Specializes in gourmet pizzas (including create-your-own), panini sandwiches, and pasta. Closed Sun. 139 S. Rowlett St. 861-1999. L, D, X, $-$$

CIAO BABY—Specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza made in a woodfired oven. Also serves house-made mozzarella, pasta, appetizers, and salads. 890 W. Poplar, Suite 1. 457-7457. L, D, X, $

COLLIERVILLE COMMISSARY—Serves barbecue sandwiches, sliders, ribs, shrimp, and nachos, as well as smoked barbecued bologna sandwiches. 3573 S. Houston Levee Rd. 979-5540. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$

DAVID GRISANTI’S ON MAIN—Serving Northern Italian cuisine and traditional Grisanti family recipes. Closed Sun./Mon. 148 N Main. 861-1777. L, D, X, $-$$$

DYER’S CAFE—Juicy hamburgers, split dogs, and milkshakes at the historic Collierville restaurant. 101 N. Center St. 850-7750. L, D, X, $-$$

EL MEZCAL—Serves burritos, chimichangas, fajitas, and other Mexican cuisine, as well as shrimp dinners and steak. 9947 Wolf River, 853-7922; 402 Perkins Extd. 761-7710; 694 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 755-1447; 1492 Union. 274-4264; 11615 Airline Rd. (Arlington). 8671883; 9045 Highway 64 (Lakeland). 383-4219; 7164 Hacks Cross Rd. (Olive Branch). 662-890-3337; 8834 Hwy. 51 N. (Millington). 872-3220; 7424 Highway 64 (Bartlett). 417-6026. L, D, X, $

EMERALD THAI RESTAURANT—Spicy shrimp, pad khing, lemongrass chicken, and several noodle, rice, and vegetarian dishes are offered at this family restaurant. Closed Sunday. 8950 Highway 64 (Lakeland, TN). 384-0540. L, D, X, $-$$

FIREBIRDS—Specialties are hand-cut steaks, slow-roasted prime rib, and wood-grilled salmon and other seafood, as well as seasonal entrees. 4600 Merchants Circle, Carriage Crossing. 850-1637; 8470 Highway 64 (Bartlett). 379-1300. L, D, X, $-$$$

JIM’S PLACE GRILLE—Features American, Greek, and Continental cuisine. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 3660 Houston Levee. 861-5000. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$$

MULAN ASIAN BISTRO—Hunan Chicken, tofu dishes, and orange beef served here; sushi and Thai food, too. 2059 Houston Levee. 850-5288; 2149 Young. 347-3965; 4698 Spottswood. 609-8680. L, D, X, $-$$

OSAKA JAPANESE CUISINE—Featuring an extensive sushi menu as well as traditional Japanese and hibachi dining. Hours vary for lunch; call. 3670 Houston Levee. 861-4309; 3402 Poplar. 249-4690; 7164 Hacks Cross (Olive Branch). 662-890-9312; 2200 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 425-4901. L, D, X, $-$$$

RAVEN & LILY—Eatery offers innovative Southern-inspired cuisine with such dishes as crispy shrimp and cauliflower salad, spiced lamb sausage and parmesan risotto, and bananas foster pain perdu. Closed Mon. 120 E. Mulberry. 286-4575. L, D, SB, X, $-$$

STIX—Hibachi steakhouse with Asian cuisine features steak, chicken, and a fillet and lobster combination, also sushi. A specialty is Dynamite Chicken with fried rice. 4680 Merchants Park Circle, Avenue Carriage Crossing. 854-3399. 150 Peabody Place, Suite 115 (Downtown). 2077638 L, D, X, $-$$


WOLF RIVER BRISKET CO.—From the owners of Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza, highlights include house-smoked meats: prime beef brisket, chicken, and salmon. Closed Sun. 9947 Wolf River Boulevard, Suite 101. 316-5590; 1350 Concourse Ave., Suite 165. 791-4389 L, D, X, $-$$

ZOPITA’S ON THE SQUARE—Cafe offers sandwiches, including smoked salmon and pork tenderloin, as well as salads and desserts. Closed Sun. 114 N. Main. 457-7526. L, D, X,$


BOZO’S HOT PIT BAR-B-Q—Barbecue, burgers, sandwiches, and subs. 342 Highway 70 (Mason, TN). 901-294-3400. L, D, X, $-$$

CITY GROCERY—Southern eclectic cuisine; shrimp and grits is a specialty. Closed for dinner Sun. 152 Courthouse Square (Oxford, MS). 662-232-8080. L, D, SB, X, $$-$$$

COMO STEAKHOUSE—Steaks cooked on a hickory charcoal grill are a specialty here. Upstairs is an oyster bar. Closed Sun. 203 Main St. (Como, MS). 662-526-9529. D, X, $-$$$

ELFO GRISANTI’S NORTHERN ITALIAN CUISINE—Grisanti family classics like lasagna, homemade ravioli, garlic bread, and Northern Italian pizza. Closed Sun. 5627 Getwell Rd. (Southaven, MS). 662-4704497. L, D, X, $-$$


CHICAGO STEAKHOUSE AT THE GOLDSTRIKE—1010 Casino Center Dr., Robinsonville, MS, 1-888-24KSTAY /662-357-1225

FAIRBANKS AT THE HOLLYWOOD—1150 Casino Strip Blvd., Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-871-0711

IGNITE STEAKHOUSE AT SOUTHLAND CASINO RACING—1550 N. Ingram Blvd., West Memphis, AR, 1-800-467-6182

JACK BINION’S STEAK HOUSE AT HORSESHOE—1021 Casino Center Drive, Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-303-SHOE

LUCKY 8 ASIAN BISTRO AT HORSESHOE—1021 Casino Center Drive, Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-303-SHOE

SOUTHLAND CASINO HOTEL'S THE KITCHENS—1550 N. Ingram Blvd., West Memphis, AR, 1-800-467-6182

THE STEAKHOUSE AT THE FITZ—711 Lucky Ln., Robinsonville, MS, 1-888-766-LUCK, ext 8213

TWAIN’S STEAKHOUSE AT SAM’S TOWN TUNICA—1477 Casino Strip Resorts Boulevard, Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-456-0711

MANILA FILIPINO RESTAURANT—Entrees include pork belly cutlet with lechon sauce, and shrimp and vegetables in tamarind broth; also daily combos, rice dishes, and chef specials. Closed Sun.-Mon. 7849 Rockford (Millington, TN). 209-8525. L, D, X, $

MARSHALL STEAKHOUSE—Rustic steakhouse serves premium Angus beef steaks, seafood dishes, rack of lamb, and more. 2379 Highway 178 (Holly Springs, MS). 628-3556. B, L, D, X, $-$$$

MEMPHIS BARBECUE COMPANY—Offers spare ribs, baby backs, and pulled pork and brisket. 709 Desoto Cove (Horn Lake, MS). 662536-3762. L, D, X, $-$$

PIG-N-WHISTLE—Offers pork shoulder sandwiches, wet and dry ribs, catfish, nachos, and stuffed barbecue potatoes. 6084 Kerr-Rosemark Rd. (Millington, TN). 872-2455. L, D, X, $

SAINT LEO’S—Offering sophisticated pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and salads. A James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant in 2017. 1101 Jackson (Oxford, MS). 662-234-4555. D, L, WB, X, $-$$

SIMON’S—A unique dining experience situated in a charming small town. Closed Sun./Mon. 201 N. Main St. (Bolivar, TN). 731403-3474. L, D, $$-$$$$

SNACKBAR—An intriguing mix of “French Bistro with North Mississippi Cafe.” Serving a confit duck Croque Monsieur, watermelon-cucumber chaat, pan-fried quail, plus a daily plate special and a raw bar. 721 N. Lamar (Oxford, MS). 662-236-6363. D, X, $-$$$

TEKILA MODERN MEXICAN—Modern interpretations of classic dishes from all over Mexico. 6343 Getwell Rd. (Southaven, MS). 662-510-5734. B, L, D, X, $-$$

WILSON CAFE—An impressive culinary destination in the heart of the Arkansas Delta. Serving jambalaya, Waygu flatiron, butternut ravioli, swordfish & shrimp kabobs, burgers. 2 N. Jefferson (Wilson, AR). 870655-0222. L, D, WB, $-$$$

4 to 9 AM Weekdays 4 to 7 PM Weekdays 9
to 4 PM Weekdays Classical Music with Darel Snodgrass and Kacky Walton Listen to WKNO-FM’s podcast “Civil Wrongs” on or the WKNO App. Produced in partnership with: MEMPHIS DINING GUIDE

Pete Gray

The One-Armed Wonder

In the 1940s, Memphians jammed Russwood Park to see one of the most remarkable players in the history of baseball. Pete Gray batted and fielded despite a handicap that would have kept most men and women off the field; he had only one arm.

Peter Wyshner was born in 1915 in the little coal-mining town of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant. At age 6, he fell under a farm wagon, and the spokes mangled his right arm, which had to be amputated.

Even so, Gray — who had changed his name as a teenager “to avoid prejudice” — was determined to play baseball. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he got his chance in 1942, by offering $10 to the manager of the semi-pro Brooklyn Bushwicks, telling him, “Keep it if I don’t make good.” Well, he

where he became quite a sensation here. Actually, an inspiration would be a better word, especially for young kids who had suffered similar misfortunes, as well as veterans injured during the war, and he often visited hospitals to encourage the patients there.

In his Memphis Baseball Encyclopedia, local sports authority John Guinozzo wrote : “While World War II was raging around the globe, one-armed sensation

change his swing as quickly as someone with two arms, so they struck him out with curve balls. His batting average dropped to .218, and team owners decided that wasn’t good enough for the majors.

Another factor was the war — or the end of it. During World War II, most able-bodied players joined the armed forces. To keep the game alive, team managers hired people they might normally not consider. When the war end-

hit a home run in his first game, so he stayed with that team two years before moving up to the minor-league Trois-Rivieres Renards team in the Canadian-American League.

Gray batted by swinging with just one arm, which wasn’t easy, yet still managed 61 base hits that first year. In the outfield, he developed a method of catching the ball in his glove, tucking the glove under his armpit, rolling the ball across his chest, then throwing it back to the infield.

In 1943, he headed south and played for the Memphis Chicks,

Pete Gray continued to amaze the sports world with his style of play. e lanky outfielder hit .333 and led the league in stolen bases with 58.” As a result, says Guinozzo, Gray was named the Most Valuable Player of the Southern Association. His achievements here weren’t overlooked by his home state. The Philadelphia Sporting Writers Association named him the “Most Courageous Athlete” of 1943, presenting him with a nice plaque, noting, “With Less, He Achieved More.”

“While World War II was raging around the globe, onearmed sensation Pete Gray continued to amaze the sports world with his style of play.” — Memphis Baseball Encyclopedia

ed and better players came home, Gray was sent back to the minor leagues. He played one year for the Toledo Mud Hens, one year for the Elmira (New York) Pioneers, and then one year for the Dallas Eagles before hanging up his cap and glove and returning home to Pennsylvania.

Gray so impressed the scouts that he was called up to the big leagues in 1945, where he joined the St. Louis Browns as a left fielder and played in 77 games. But not all fairy tales have a happy ending. Professional teams are playing for money, so they won’t lob you an easy hit because you happen to be missing an arm. Opposing pitchers soon figured out Gray couldn’t

After retirement in 1949, he spent a quiet life in his hometown of Nanticoke, refusing interviews. Gray passed away in 2002 at the age of 87. He’s buried in St. Mary Cemetery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where the inscription on his gravestone remembers him as “ e One-Armed Wonder.”

He hadn’t been completely forgotten after all these years. The New York Times published a long obituary, observing that “his achievement was viewed as an extraordinary testament to his determination and athleticism, and it resonated beyond the sports world.” His glove is on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

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