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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: Poplar offices are getting spruced up, and if you want a rainbow ...

Good morning, Memphis. Today is Thursday, Jan. 14, and the Tigers were supposed to play their first basketball game of the year but it was not to be. But, once again, it wasn’t their fault.

Germantown’s design review commission subcommittee will look at a new storage building for the Germantown Road Chick-Fil-A. And, Alchemy plans to reopen today, for takeout only, but the food will be from Broad Avenue’s Salt|Soy.

Also, spoiler alert, there’s A LOT of news today. 



First responder Tracey Washington receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Edward Rogers earlier this month. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

The race to a vaccine: With concerns about racial inequity in vaccine distribution, the Shelby County Health Department will reserve about half of its appointments going forward for call-in respondents. (January’s appointments were all booked online before the call-in appointment hotline even went live.) In Shelby County, vaccination among Hispanics seems to be greatly lagging, with only 142 doses given to someone of that background. Complicating matters statewide is that, in almost 45% of cases, the person’s race wasn’t recorded. 

Legislator adds new post: Germantown’s Brian Kelsey has been appointed to chair the Tennessee Senate’s education committee. A long-time proponent of school vouchers, Kelsey has already sponsored legislation related to education this year, filing a bill that would give local school boards authority over their emergency operations


2552 Poplar Ave. is looking to get a facelift. (Tom Bailey/Daily Memphian)

Poplar places: The local owners of RockHouse Live — though I still call it the Poplar Lounge — have bought two five-story office buildings nearby. The immediate plan for Poplar Place and Poplar Place II is to fix about $600,000 in problems that drove tenants away, but the longer term plan is more fluid. It might mean a larger renovation, a brand new building or even a conversion to a hotel.

Building Chick-fil-A: Wow, we’re getting two Chick-fil-A mentions today. I guess this is just a week for chicken. At any rate, construction has begun for a new Chick-fil-A on Summer Avenue, which as Tom Bailey notes, “is off the beaten path for Chick-fil-A in the Memphis area.” Indeed. In fact, it kind of makes me interested in how the area will change after the popular fast food restaurant moves in. I guess we’ll see. Stay tuned. 



We were looking for a restaurant spot, and we looked … at several properties. For some reason, it just clicked in all of our heads: Why don’t we just do it in Grandpa’s office? And he was kind enough to let us do that.

— Magnolia & May owner Chip Dunham
Dunham, the son of Grove Grill owner Jeff Dunham, recently spoke about opening a restaurant in a pandemic, his chef boxes and his upcoming cocktail dinner.




Two women pause for a selfie at the state's first rainbow crosswalk in Cooper-Young in 2019. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian file)

Walking on sunshine: An intersection near Overton Square is getting two new crosswalks, and these crosswalks will walk the talk. Or talk the walk. (Hard to say.) Both have been approved by the Memphis Public Art Review; one will say Black Lives Matter while the other will be similar to a rainbow crosswalk installed in Cooper-Young last year.

Basketball update: We’re almost halfway through the month, and the Tigers haven’t played a game since Dec. 29. As Danielle Lerner writes, “The first postponement, Jan. 2 at Temple, was a nuisance. The second, within three days of the first, was disappointing …” This latest delay came out of nowhere, and it definitely has the team feeling a little anxious. Coach Penny Hardaway has begun to reach out to non-conference teams in search of possible opponents: “We just need games,” he said. In Grizzlies news, the team has just earned its third straight win


The warm apple purse (Jennifer Biggs/The Daily Memphian)

Holding the purse spoons: In its arsenal of desserts, River Oaks Restaurant has crème brûlée, Baked Alaska, a huge Mojo chocolate chip cookie, topped with homemade ice cream, and a dark chocolate cake, also with ice cream. But, today, Jennifer Biggs is raving about the restaurant’s warm apple purse. As she says, “ I seldom eat dessert, and I’m not crazy about cooked fruit. … But having eaten this apple purse, I’ll have to eat those words.” It’s so good, in fact, that she suggests you hide your dinner companion’s spoon. 

Tough talk: A Cordova principal has been placed on leave, after talking to students about free speech and the ramifications of social media companies banning President Donald Trump (and other things, like the Branch Davidians). The message did not take a partisan, political or religious position, but it seems like the lesson about free speech is ongoing. 


LaKeith Stanfield, foreground, and Daniel Kaluuya in a scene from the upcoming film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The movie will screen in Memphis Feb. 1. (Glen Wilson/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

What to watch: Sundance’s satellite film festival will screen 12 movies between Jan. 28 and Feb. 2 at the Malco Summer Drive-In. The full lineup is out and it includes a movie co-directed by a former Memphian, an animated film with voice work from Michael Cera and Zoe Kazan, and “Passing,” the directing debut from actress Rebecca Hall about two women who can “pass” for white but live on opposite sides of the color line.



Steve Cohen’s mask game during yesterday’s second impeachment of President Donald Trump


But seriously, if you want to hear from our thought leaders, columnist Otis Sanford is looking at what last week’s attack on the Capitol means for the Republican party. And, Chris Herrington is back with the Memphis 10 today and questioning why U.S. Rep. David Kustoff would still back objections to certifying the electoral outcome last week and remain mostly silent about recent events. 

I guess that’s probably enough for today. Let us know if you spot any rainbows, and we’ll see you tomorrow.