In Search of the Heart of Memphis

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Millennial Comes to Memphis, Part 2

She was finally here!

When we picked her up from Memphis International, the first thing I learned about our dear friend visiting from California was that she didn’t exactly appreciate being referred to as a “Millennial.”
She is one of the most easy-going people you’ll ever meet. Ever. And I’m exaggerating only slightly when I say that she didn’t quite see the Millennial label I gave her. She was half-joking, or maybe pointedly joking. But on our way out onto the 240 she said, “Loved your last blog and honored you wrote about my visit… But a Millennial?!”
Image copiously copied from ProductDesignJournal

Chagrined, I looked into the rear-view mirror to measure her level of disenchantment. “Well, technically you are…?” I said. “If you were born between ’81 and ’98 or something they say you’re a Millennial.”

“I know. You’re right,” she said with a smile. “But I don’t think I exactly fit the profile of a Millennial.”

Uh-oh. 

In my last post I said that Millennials “are passionate, energetic, and who value ideas and the chance to do something important and different.” Was I wrong? 

I was promptly reminded that the Millennial generation has a reputation for entitlement and stuck-in-social-media narcissism. “Oh yeah, that’s right, I’ve heard that,” I said. “Oops.”

She thought it was funny, and probably naively-old of me. And honestly, I solemnly swear, I do not think of our friend as entitled nor narcissistic. Not in the slightest! I’ve known a few (exhausting and utterly destructive) narcissistic people in my day and she is most definitely not one of them. 

“No, no,” I said, “I see you, and so does a big part of Memphis, as the Millennial population who is passionate, civic-minded, confident, and tolerant. There is a big part of Memphis that not only values your generation, but needs your fresh perspective here in Memphis.”

Passionate. Civic-minded. Confident. Tolerant. That… is our friend. She quickly snickered off the missed-assessment of mine and promptly soaked up Memphis exactly like I thought she would, embracing our sights and sounds and tastes.

But then, she had an amazing host! Right? I have to give myself a little pat on the back, as it turns out I had crammed in enough homework and had experienced enough of My city to give our guest a nicely well-rounded introduction to our city. 

The back alley entrance to Rendezvous

Rendezvous, Bluff City Coffee, our little place in Midtown, Check.
Babalu, Lafayette’s, live music, Check.
Central Ave, East Memphis, Hog & Hominy, Check.
Downtown, South Main, Midtown, Check.

Lafayette's Music Room
We also spent a few hours on East 40, into Nashville, and then West 40, back home. Nashville?! Whaaa? Yes, Had to. Had to see one of our best friends. 

Back to Memphis.

Yours-truly-provided driving tours, walking tours, beautifully-timed sunny weather, check.
Riverside Drive, Overton Square, Cooper-Young, Check.
Fun facts, historical facts, controversial facts, check.

I think it’s safe to say that she fell for Memphis pretty hard. She loved it. And I didn’t sugarcoat everything. In fact I made it a point to talk about our… our issues. Our crime problem, the homeless, our fiscal challenges, our heated rivalry with Nashville. I pointed out empty buildings, vacant lots, and I couldn’t avoid the potholes. Of course there are many areas around town that I didn't think of and that I haven’t ventured into yet. (But remember, I’m still new here.)

New and old boots

New boots, Brass Door, Civil Rights Museum, Check.
Madison Ave, Front Street, Gus’s chicken, Check.
Arcade Restaurant, Sweet-Potato Pancakes, a Peanut-Butter, Banana and Bacon sandwich, Check.

The iconic Elvis Peanut-Butter, Banana and Bacon Sandwich,
in the Arcade Elvis booth, no less

And the three of us made one final discovery. The brand new restaurant-bar-hangout Loflin Yard in South Junction. 

I’m no food critic, no one asked me to say anything yay or nay about the place, but my wife and I are typically spot-on in our assessments of restaurants old and new. And I’ll tell ya this much: the place is friggin’ off-the-charts. 

Conceived as downtown’s “backyard,” as one of the owners put it, it delivers with a wide smile and a breath of fresh air. Guests walk into this new treasure to an intimate bar that has the feel of a country store, where you can pick your own bottle of sparkling water or red wine, step up to the bar and order a cocktail or a draft, then head outside to the spacious patio or out to the sprawling back lawn, grab a few chairs and sit and listen to some live bluegrass. Play ‘shoes or Cornhole, grab a paddle and play some ping-pong, or play that bar game toss-the-ring-on-the-string-onto-the-hook-thing. 

Loflin Yard in South Junction, conceived of and constructed
by some inspired Tennesseans
When you’re hungry, go order some grub. Like delicious sweet-potato salad and slaw, fresh trout and grilled brisket, and the servers will bring it out to ya when it’s good and ready. 
Now this place doesn’t need my high praise to bring in more visitors. In fact on summer days comin' up I’m sure they will be fighting off the crowds. But I had to be one of the honored first to share the great experience this place hands over on a hot platter. While there I chatted it up with a couple of the investor/managers - terrific guys both of them - and I looked around at the little slice of heaven they had helped build, congratulated them and asked, “Why aren’t’cha poppin’ the champagne?!” 

And after the sun had set and we were saying goodbyes I shook their hands, took one last look around, and I thought about their fresh perspective, that they had done something truly different, and I told them “You guys and this place, ya'll represent Memphis really, really well.” 

Just like I hoped I did with my personalized and optimistic Memphis tour for our stellar-only Millennial-ish girl. It was a great way to bring her special visit to a shining close. 


Good eats, Great friends, Forever-Memphis memories. Check.
Gus's Downtown


2 comments:

  1. I love our city! You represented it very well.

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  2. Memphis is absolutely one of my favorite places in the states, so it is pretty darn convenient that two of my all time favorite people live there. This Millennial-ish girl can't wait to come back and hit up a few more Memphis staples that we didn't squeeze into the most recent run around town. No doubt there will be plenty more visits. Great post Mark! Miss you guys!

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