If a person said that they were going to the liquor store to eat, you might think they were a little out of it, to say the least. But if they were in Memphis when they said it, it might make a little sense. The Liquor Store is an upscale diner and bar located in the Broad Avenue Arts District in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis, located in a building that for many years was indeed a liquor store. The current restaurant has a strong Cuban/Calle Ocho/South Beach vibe that is at once bright and captivating. Great Cuban music plays overhead, the restaurant’s interior is all done in white, aquamarine and red, and both the cups and staff T-shirts are emblazoned with palm trees. Despite a few Cuban items on the menu, the bulk of the offerings are more traditional. Breakfast is served the entire day, and is delicious, with many of the items locally sourced. The bacon/blue cheese burger is also as good as any burger in Memphis. As befits a place called The Liquor Store, there is of course a full bar as well. However, despite the bar and breakfast tendencies, the hours are somewhat curtailed, with the restaurant closing at 4 PM on Sundays and Mondays, and at 9 PM every other day. Still, it is a great new destination in Memphis for great food in a pleasant environment without spending a lot of money.
The Liquor Store
2655 Broad Av
Memphis, TN 38112
I had read on the Memphis Flyer‘s website that a soul band called Objekt 12 would be playing at the new Red Zone Cigar and Sports Bar in the Broad Avenue Arts District, so when I left Havana Mix downtown, I headed that way, and could hardly find a place to park. The new Red Zone is a branch of the one on Winchester in Hickory Hill which has been open for several years. I have never been inside that location, but the new one (which is somewhat misleadingly called Red Zone Midtown) is quite elegant and comfortable inside. The live music was outside however, on a patio which was packed with people despite the heat and humidity. The band, Objekt 12, was not exactly what I was expecting in the way of a “soul band”, but might be better described as a “soulful” indie rock band. They were talented musicians however, and did some originals as well as covers. It’s always good to discover new Memphis musicians, and I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more from Objekt 12 in the future.
Red Zone Cigar and Sports Bar
2583 Broad Ave
Memphis, TN 38112
This has been a relatively rough year for Memphis, and yet one of the more uplifting things I have noticed has been the spreading of neighborhood-based outdoor artworks and murals. While this has been going on for several years, it has virtually exploded this summer. I was not pleased with the demolition of the historic W. C. Handy Theatre in Orange Mound, but it did cheer me to see the orange-and-white public art on the bricks that remain from the foundation at the site. The slogans emphasize pride in the Orange Mound community and its high school, Melrose. A brightly-colored mural a few blocks away carries a timely message: “Dreams Matter, We Matter”. Just north of the railroad tracks, the historic Beltline neighborhood is celebrated in a building-length mural on the wall of a grocery store. In Binghampton, the artwork near the basketball courts celebrates the game of basketball, for which The Hamp is known, being the neighborhood of Anfernee Hardaway. But perhaps the most striking effort was the long series of murals on the inside flood wall along Chelsea between McLean and Evergreen in the Evergreen neighborhood. The different panels celebrate many different aspects of hip-hop culture or Memphis culture, with the word “REVIVAL” prominently featured in the first one. It is an appropriate slogan for a city that is long overdue for renewal.
Jazz is getting increasingly harder to find in Memphis these days, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it recently got voted the least-popular genre of music in America, although that dubious distinction was based on downloads, and I could argue that we jazz fans prefer to buy discs or vinyl. But at any rate, it becomes more crucial than ever for us to support the jazz events we do have, and a great one happens every Thursday night at a quaint nautically-themed bar in the Broad Avenue Arts District called The Cove. Ed Finney is of course a legendary jazz guitarist around Memphis, and Jeremy Shrader is a younger trumpet player and singer, and together this duo performs a satisfying mix of jazz standards and original tunes each week from 9 to midnight. It’s nothing loud, or brash or bombastic, just a cool, hip aural ambiance. It’s definitely worth checking out, and although I didn’t eat, I’ve been told the food at The Cove is remarkably good as well.
Wiseacre Brewing Company is one of the new local microbreweries that have sprung up around Memphis, and they have started booking occasional live music on Saturdays. On February 7, the featured act was the Mighty Souls Brass Band, Memphis’ only local brass band, whose new album Lift Up was recently released on the non-profit Blue Barrel Records label, distributed by Archer Records.. The Mighty Souls played to an overflow crowd that spread out onto the decks and parking lot behind the building, featuring mostly songs from the new album, including the gospel-tinged composition “Saints” by drummer Tom Leonardo. The Gulf Coast Shrimp food truck from Southaven was purveying shrimp poboys and other cuisine appropriate to the occasion.
Not that many years ago, Broad Street (as we called it then) was largely vacant, except for a bar or two and the venerable Broadway Pizza Company. It had once been the downtown of a separate town called Binghampton, but in 1915, Binghampton voted to give up its separate identity and become part of the city of Memphis. Not long afterwards,a city ordinance changed Broad Street to Broad Avenue, because Memphis had determined that all east-west streets must be avenues and all north-south streets would be streets. (This ordinance also tripped up the legendary “Beale Street”, and getting Beale back to “street” status took almost 30 years). But the remarkable transformation of the Broad Avenue area to Memphis’ second arts district has only taken about two years, and periodically now the district celebrates its new boom with Friday night art walks, similar to the Trolley Nights in the other South Main Arts District. On Friday, November 7, a large crowd was in the Water Tower Pavilion, listening to a great band of students from the School of Rock performing on the stage, with food trucks and clothing vendors nearby. Up on Broad, crowds were making their way to the different galleries and shops, new restaurants like Bounty on Broad, and temporary exhibits highlighting local products like Relevant Coffee Roasters, and some of the best handmade caramel candies I have ever eaten. Broad Avenue is definitely worth a visit as the Christmas season approaches, for unique gifts that cannot be found elsewhere.
Memphis artist Frank D. Robinson is the artist-in-residence at Caritas Village in Binghampton, and has done much to promote the arts in Memphis,both his own and others, so it is entirely fitting that he organized an exhibition called “One Village One City” that brings together the work of several different Memphis artists at Caritas Village. Friday night February 7, the works were unveiled to the public at a reception, and several of the artists (including Robinson) were present.
Memphis artist N J Woods grew up in Orange Mound, and has transformed the fond memories of her childhood there into vibrant, colorful art works in an exhibition that opened at her new gallery space in Binghampton on Friday May 17th. The paintings emphasize familiar shops and people of the neighborhood’s past, opening a window onto a place that few Memphians know as well as they should. The Woods Gallery is located at 2563 Broad Avenue in the Broad Avenue Arts District.
“If I could only be a child again” sang Curtis Mayfield, and who hasn’t wished for that glorious time when school was mostly recess and crafts. Well, the Five In One Social Club can’t turn back the hands of time, but they can transfer the fun of arts and crafts time to our adult lives. Want to make felt monsters, or stamps or planters? You can do all of that and more at this self-described “kindergarten for grown-ups.” There’s also some really cool Memphis and Binghampton shirts for sale. Visit the website, or better yet, the clubhouse itself during open hours.
Memphis’Broad Avenue (as Broad Street) was the business district for the town of Binghampton prior to its consolidation with Memphis in 1915. The merger with Memphis changed the street’s name to Broad Avenue, since Memphis ordinances provided that all east-west streets would be named avenues (a law which snared Beale as well, making it Beale Avenue until it was changed back in the 1950’s). The street has seen its share of decline, but for the last several years it has been home to a burgeoning arts community known as the Broad Avenue Arts District, which has brought together a number of studios and galleries. On certain Friday nights during the year, the district sponsors Art Walks that are remarkably similar to the Trolley Nights in Memphis’ other arts community, the South Main Arts District.