Memphis hotel projects poised to tap into pent-up travel demand

Chuck Pinkowski, owner of hotel consulting firm Pinkowski and Co., keeps track of local projects coming online or in the works in the metro area’s hotel pipeline. According to his list, as of April 2021, there are 47 properties — consisting of more than 6,200 rooms — in the Memphis hotel market pipeline through 2025.

In terms of areas, Downtown Memphis is listed as having the most proposed hotel projects, with 14 properties and 2,688 rooms.

Tom Lee Park Renovation Begins

The $60-million renovation of Memphis’ signature downtown park got two critical green lights: one from Mayor Strickland’s Riverfront Steering Committee, the other from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Tom Lee Park sits on a 30-acre berm that helps stabilize the bluff along the Mississippi River at Memphis. Structural changes must be approved by the Corps of Engineers. Tuesday, July 20, 2021, the Corps issued the 408 permit needed to make so many of the wonderful features seen in renderings possible.

The Mayor’s Riverfront Steering Committee also approved the design and the Strickland administration made an important decision.

Minority-led group proposes $50M hotel and high-end condo project in Pinch District

A minority-led group has plans for a roughly $50 million mixed-use development in the Pinch District. Members of Blues Note LLC told MBJ that the group intends to develop the Blues Note Hotel — a 100-room property — at 463 N. Front St., as well as a 40-unit high-rise condominium.

The North Front Street property is situated within walking distance of the Pyramid. MBJ reported on May 11, that Ashaif Enterprises purchased the property at 463 N. Front St. for $715,000, according to a transaction filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

The Blues Note Hotel, aimed at being an independently owned and operated entertainment and destination property, proposes an array of amenities, including:

  • 100 guest rooms
  • 40 condos with floor-to-ceiling glass and patios
  • Retail and office space
  • Steakhouse restaurant
  • Coffee shop
  • Lobby bar and live music stage
  • Conference and meeting space, with a ballroom
  • Custom soundproof music studio
  • Spa and salon
  • Workout facility
  • Rooftop guitar shape hotel pool with stage and lounge
  • Private condo pool with lounge
  • Custom trolley station
  • Parking garage with valet

Bill McCrary, principal developer and project manager for Blues Note, didn’t give a timeline on when he expected construction to begin or when it would be completed.

While due diligence has been done, Blues Note is still in discussion with city planning department officials on details such as as building layout, McCrary said.

He indicated that, once completed, the Blues Note Hotel would have about 100 employees.

“We are going to have [an] above-average pay rate or way above the pay rate of what hotels are normally paying employees,” he said.

McCrary said the Memphis project would be the first of what they envision as a similar concept coming to other cities.

“What better place to kick off a hotel, condos, and mixed-use [brand] called Blues Note [than] in Memphis? And the beginning of a national franchise; we are in talks with cities like New Orleans, Miami, and Detroit for a Blues Note,” he said.

With the condos, Reginald Fentress, Blues Note’s development coordinator, said the City of Memphis will also benefit.

“They are going to generate revenue to the city tax base every year, which is a win to the city,” Fentress said.

According to McCrary, the $50 million price tag on the project could increase, based on a high level of infrastructure for the building. The group is working with local, state, and federal officials to build above the existing Trolley track,” McCrary said.

Miss Tenn. competition comes to Memphis

Miss Tennessee competition comes to Memphis

The Miss Tennessee competition is back this year after 2020’s COVID-19 pause — and it’s in Memphis.

Lydia Fisher sits in a carriage during the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Competition's Show Us Your Parasol parade on Beale Street, Sunday, June 27, 2021 in Memphis, TN.

Thirty Miss Tennessee representatives from across the state have descended upon the Bluff City for rehearsals, public appearances and three nights of competition, our Bob Mehr reports.

The competition takes place July 1-3 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Memphis.

Miss Tennessee promoters shine spotlight on Memphis; event a ‘godsend’ after tough 2020

This year’s Miss Tennessee Scholarship Competition is set to take place July 1-3 at the Cannon Center, in what will be the event’s first stop in Memphis since its founding in 1938.

Before Dean Dennis came to Memphis to manage the Renasant Convention Center, he managed the convention center in Atlantic City, the New Jersey resort town that was home to the Miss America contest for most of the pageant’s 100-year-history.

Ja Morant the focus of Moneybagg Yo’s new song ‘ROTY’

If one could hold Ja Morant’s star potential in their hands, it would have been strapped to a rocket ship and sent to the moon this postseason.

The Memphis Grizzlies point guard has emerged as one of the league’s brightest rising talents, taking down two-time MVP Steph Curry and legendary coach Gregg Popovich along the way.

No player since 1949 scored more points in his first two playoff games than Morant did in Utah. He’s one of only four NBA players — the others are Hall of Famers George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — to score more than 100 points in his first three playoff games. He has set franchise records, NBA records and career highs along the way.

But now his star portfolio is getting a few more sections, with a documentary series and a tribute song.

Morant made headlines because he scored 47 points in a game. He made headlines because some Jazz fans made offensive and racist comments in the direction of his family. He was name-dropped in a J. Cole record last month.

If the discussion is about playoff basketball or simply hoops culture — Morant’s name is likely to come up.

“Dropping my documentary, ‘PromiseLand June 3rd,” he posted on Instagram Monday.

“Promiseland” is a six-episode docuseries — produced by Crackle, a network that airs free TV and movies — that chronicles the rise of Morant.

It features fellow NBA star Carmelo Anthony, WNBA star A’ja Wilson and Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo, according to the trailer.


Ghost River Brewing Company, Memphis’ first craft brewery, and Beale Street Management are excited to announce Ghost River’s second location at 341-345 Beale Street in historic Downtown Memphis, with a grand opening scheduled for July 2021. Beyond great local brews, the Beale Street location will feature cuisine from Chef Sobie Johnson of Flying Sobie’s Gourmet Kitchen, a taproom, an outdoor beer garden, and live music.

Ghost River is independently owned and operated and has been making good beer for the good people of Memphis since 2007. This is the brewery’s first expansion.

“We are excited for the opportunity to expand our historic Brewery, Tap Room, and Beer Garden to world-famous Beale Street,” said Bob Keskey, owner of Ghost River Brewing Company. “We think it will be a great partnership – giving Memphians and tourists easier access to our assortment of hand-crafted beers – and we couldn’t be happier to help add to the vibrancy of Beale.”

Ghost River’s commitment to providing a place where everyone can enjoy some distinctive southern hospitality with their hops will be a welcome addition to Beale Street. And, if beer wasn’t enough, the brewery will also provide another dining option on the street with a unique partnership with Flying Sobie’s Gourmet Kitchen. Ghost River first became aware of Chef Sobie because of his strong following within the food truck community, and the partnership idea took off during the past year. With Ghost River covering the kitchen buildout, and equipment, Chef Sobie will bring his signature ground chicken burgers to his first “brick and mortar” location.

Beale Street Management fully supports the partnership.

“We are really looking forward to what the Ghost River/Flying Sobie’s team is going to bring to the street,” said Jon Shivers, manager of Beale Street. “Their timing couldn’t be better – Grizzlies are in the playoffs, we are gearing up for summer concerts, great weather9, 01FC and Redbirds games are ramping up. This is perfect beer and burger season.”

It seems Ghost River has equally positive feelings about Beale.

“It is important to Ghost River and our team to continue our support of all existing establishments on Beale, from the west side of Beale to the east side,” said Keskey when asked about the new location. “I want to thank the City of Memphis and Beale Street Management for their support and vision to bring this to fruition. There isn’t a better Memphis location than Beale; we are honored to be a part of the street.”

Where Southern Meets Latin

Chefs Keith Potter and Garron Sanchez bring a bit of Latin flair to CIMAS in the new Hyatt Centric on Beale Street

Downtown’s One Beale has long been under public scrutiny, with construction setbacks and a lengthy hiatus moving the plan through several iterations since the early 2000s. But the project’s Hyatt Centric opened its doors to the public last month, marking the successful completion of Phase 2.

The owners of Downtown’s newest hotel, occupying a prime location on Beale Street, knew they wanted something special to stand out from the crowd of other nearby attractions. But rather than look to its Southern peers, the chefs behind Hyatt’s CIMAS restaurant (pronounced see-mas) turned to South and Central America for inspiration.

Winners of 2021 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest announced

Myron Mixon’s Jack’s Old South Team was named grand champion, setting a new record for the World Championship Barbecue Contest by taking the top honor for the fifth time.

Serious competition barbecue teams returned to Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis to determine the best barbecue on the planet after a year off due to COVID. Memphis in May officials announced the winners of the organization’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest on Saturday.

After Myron Mixon’s Jack’s Old South Team was named grand champion, Mixon gave a speech and attributed their success to teamwork and dedication. Jack’s Old South competed in the Whole Hog category.

First place in Ribs went to Bluff City Smokers ft. Central City BBQ, and Blues Hog took first
place in shoulder. Jack’s Old South also took top honors in the Whole Hog category.

One hundred and thirty six competition cooking teams vied for a record $142,350 in cash prizes, along with the priceless bragging rights from winning Memphis in May World Championship.

Complete winners list can be found by clicking here.