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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: Big moves for Gus’s, Leonard’s, Restaurant Iris and the Megasite

Good morning, Mid-Southerners. Today is Wednesday, June 9, and it’s time to get cheesy. Seriously. Greys Fine Cheese and Entertaining is beginning a series of classes today and though some of them are already sold out, more instruction is on the whey. (Sorry, not sorry.)

Tonight is also Bike Night on Beale. And, this is interesting, dune buggy enthusiasts will be in town, starting today, for “Manx in Memphis.” I hope this means we’ll see some cool vehicles around town this weekend. 


Take a hike? With Shelby County, Arlington and Bartlett governments considering tax hikes, the Memphis City Council may look at one, as well. Councilman Martavius Jones plans to propose a 29-cent increase; the additional money generated could be used for city pay raises, funding for the Memphis Area Transit Authority and other budget items.


The 4,100-acre Memphis Regional Megasite is in Haywood County, about 45 minutes from Downtown Memphis. (Houston Cofield/Daily Memphian file)

Mega millions: As Haywood County’s Memphis Regional Megasite continues to languish without an employer to call it home, Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee is promising additional investment and enticements. The governor said yesterday the state would offer enhanced incentives to companies interested in potentially locating at the site; it will also install more infrastructure to sweeten the deal. 

Proposal runs out of gas? With ongoing changes near Sam Cooper and Tillman, local planners are wary of a new gas station proposed for the area. As Tom Bailey writes, “The Department of Planning & Development (DPD) staff report suggests the grittiness of fuel sales is inappropriate for this Binghampton site that is surrounded by a new ballet school to the south, a nonprofit shopping center to the southeast, houses to the west, and an existing gas station and craft brewery to the north.” It comes at a time when the Memphis City Council is already restricting new gasoline sales — especially since Memphis has more gas stations per capita than its surrounding suburbs, Nashville and the wider United States


Chef Kelly English is moving Restaurant Iris out of its 12-table home into a larger space in Laurelwood. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

An Iris and the Grove: The longtime home of the former Grove Grill is getting a new tenant — itself already an established restaurant. Kelly English’s Restaurant Iris, located in Midtown for more than 13 years, will move into the much larger East Memphis space. The move also gives English the opportunity to create a new concept in Iris’ current Monroe Avenue location




Javi Arcega is the lead singer of the band Los Pyschosis. (Courtesy Jamie Harmon)

Memphis’ Los Psychosis is a self-described “Latinx psychobilly band heavily educated in the traditions of primordial rock ‘n’ roll.” The band, despite being a mainstay of the local music scene for years, hadn’t recorded professionally until last year. And when they did, at two of the Bluff City’s most storied studios, for their new album, “Rock and Roll Dreams,” they used two different lineups of musicians. As lead guitarist and vocalist Javi Arcega says, “As far as I know, we are the first Latinx rock band in Memphis. I think that this album will be a document to what that means.” 




Dan Brown is selling Leonard’s to the owners of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. (Tom Bailey/Daily Memphian)

Getting up with the chickens: At the ripe old age of 99, Leonard’s Pit Barbecue is beginning its next chapter. Earlier this year, owner Dan Brown said he was selling the last remaining location of Leonard’s, the area’s oldest (and maybe sweetest) barbecue restaurant. Now, the parent company for Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is crossing the metaphorical road and buying the barbecue joint. And instrumental in the purchase is a former Leonard’s waiter and current Hot and Spicy Holdings executive.


Memphis Public Libraries Director Keenon McCloy holds a mysterious painting of the Cossitt Library that was recently rediscovered. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Another look at the Cossitt: You may remember that, in May, The Daily Memphian’s Bill Dries was talking about a mysterious painting of the Cossitt Library. No one really knew where it came from or what it was or why it might have been commissioned. And while we still don’t know who painted it or why, the story of how it showed up goes back to more than five years ago, when there was talk of closing the Cossitt completely. 

Kids and the vaccine: Leaders from both St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital are lending their voices to vaccine advocacy today, especially for children 12 years and older. By doing so, they hope to help kids return to in-person education and activities: “The side effects have been minimal, and the benefits have been dramatic,” write Dr. James Downing and Michael Wiggins. “Viral spread has declined significantly in communities near and far.” 



Everyone is sharing their love of native Memphian Verlinda Henning. The human resource consultant was on “Jeopardy!” this week, exactly 22 years after her husband died unexpectedly, and Memphis could not be prouder.


Henning had done an online test for the quiz show in 2018 but had written off her dream of being on “Jeopardy!” after host Alex Trebek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and then the world dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. But for a day, she was the reigning champion


Verlinda Henning, here with guest host Mayim Bialik, filmed her “Jeopardy!” episodes in March.(Submitted)

Really awesome. And a great reminder to all of us to keep following our dreams, no matter what.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!