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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: A fest stress test and how restaurants are preparing for winter

Good morning, friends. It’s Friday, Oct. 16, and one of my favorite local events is back. A Spillit Center Stage is happening tonight, in the Ixora parking lot near Crosstown Concourse. The theme is “Working it Out,” but you have to buy your tickets in advance.

The United Way of the Mid-South is also hosting its Community Impact Town Hall today, virtually, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; the event, addressing the racial wealth gap and economic justice, will feature Robin Hood Foundation CEO and author Wes Moore.



An officer returns a couple of kids to their bunk area at the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center in 2019. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian file)

Questions about kids and incarceration: Yesterday, we talked a little bit about how the system kept 16-year-old Booker T. Washington High student Cameron Pryor from being detained before he fatally attempted a carjacking on the Germantown border. Today The Daily Memphian wades into the discussion between mercy and justice, of keeping minors out of the system (and thus lessening their chances of recidivism), of trying to ensure equal treatment for Black youth, and of reducing juvenile crime and rehabilitating offenders. 

Winter is coming: And that worries restaurateurs who have been surviving on outdoor dining. It’s not just the cold that’s a concern, but the fact that November and December are two months in which restaurants typically do very well due to events, catering and gift card sales. “We won’t have most of that this year, and nothing on a large scale. We’re just hoping we’ll have enough smaller events to help us out,” said the co-owner of Jim’s Place Grill in Collierville. In the meantime, restaurant owners and operators are coming up with ways to allow more people to continue eating outside.


Concertgoers watch the Goo Goo Dolls during a 2011 Live at the Garden show. And, if you look real closely, you’ll just be able to make out some Duncan-Williams signage in the background. (Lance Murphey/Daily Memphian file)

Community leader sold: Maybe you just heard a shudder across the local nonprofit world. Duncan-Williams Inc., a Memphis-based, family-owned brokerage firm that has sponsored a ton of area events in the past — such as Indie Memphis and Live at the Garden — is being sold to a publicly traded firm from Florida.



I thought I heard the Oscar Mayer wienermobile was headed to Memphis ... 




Dan Judd, of the Southern Smokers, led his team on stage after winning the Patio Porkers division of the 2019 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian file)

Fest under stress: Without this year’s annual spring celebration of barbecue and music (and, yes, another country), Memphis in May has posted an almost $1.8 million loss for fiscal 2020. The organization is 44 years old and they’ve never had it this bad — and that includes the year Tom Lee Park was under water. In fact, this year’s loss is roughly three times as bad as its previous worst year. Said president and CEO James Holt: “The challenges presented by the pandemic represent the most difficult period our organization has ever faced, and the challenges are ongoing.”

Airport stays up: I think we all know that air travel has taken a nose-dive since the spring, but Memphis International Airport is doing better than most. Passenger numbers aren’t as bad as they could be and, in fact, according to the airport’s manager of air service research and development, “in the months of May and June, I had some unique conversations with airlines asking us if Memphis was aware of the pandemic, due to advanced bookings on three unnamed airlines.” And, with e-commerce and other shipments increasing due to the pandemic, the airport’s cargo weight was up more than 17% in September


Strike zone: Ja Morant knows exactly what he’s doing each day from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep. And most of those days he’s focused on basketball. But he recently had a “day off” with his dad: “In a new advertisement for Wendy’s, the Grizzlies point guard and his dad, Tee Morant, hit the bowling alley for a few frames.” An extended version includes Ja getting a haircut from his longtime barber. 

Monument stands: In early August, protesters first gathered at a Confederate monument in Collierville, asking that it be removed. Since then, six people have been arrested for vandalism of said monument and the town’s current Board of Mayor and Alderman made it clear — through silence — where they stand. Today, candidates for alderman seats weigh in on whether they think the monument should remain or be moved.



Good news. The highs for this weekend and next week will be in the 70s, so you know what to do. 


Thanks for joining us for the week. I’m off next Monday, but no worries; Chris Herrington will be manning the ship to make sure you start your workweek informed and entertained.