Your Grandfather Loved the Green Beetle, and So Should You

Posted by Holly Whitfield | July 14th 2011 889 5

There are a lot of bold claims being made at the Green Beetle. A placard outside boasts that the bar has been “healing broken hearts since 1939”. Inside, a sign says “Have a beer here, your grandfather did.”

Green Beetle Signage, Memphis, Tenn.

I don’t know how accurate the first sign is, but if your grandparents hung out downtown, there’s a good chance that they drank at the Green Beetle.

It was open in 1939, and it stayed open when downtown was super sketchy (it may have contributed a little of that sketchiness). There used to be a window between the Beetle and the adjoining liquor store for easy purchasing. And, in a bizarre contractual twist, the building is one of the only ones in Memphis that has to retain the same name even if it’s sold.

The Green Beetle, Memphis, Tenn.

The South Main St. bar re-opened this week after a long hiatus. If you’re worried that the downtime means tons of changes, don’t. All of the changes that have been made seem to be for the good. When I was there Tuesday night, the barn-like space was clean, Mongo for Mayor signs hung proudly on the walls, the beer case was stocked with dozens of imports and domestics and the air conditioner was going strong.

The menu isn’t huge, but it’s packed with food that goes well with drinking. I wanted to try the mac’n’cheese, but by the time I got there, they were all out. The manager was very nice about it, telling me that they make all of their food fresh and that since it’s opening week, they were still figuring out how much to make.

Sausage po-boy from the Green Beetle, Memphis, Tenn.

Instead, I tried a few bites of my drinking buddy’s massive sausage and pepper po-boy and potato salad. The po-boy tastes great, but its size makes it a three-napkin sandwich. The potato salad was some of the best I’ve had in town – the huge chunks of potatoes in seasoned mayo were way better than I expected.

At the moment, the Green Beetle is open daily for lunch and dinner, with plans to (eventually) stay open until 3 a.m., even on weeknights. They’ve got a small kids’ menu, but if you’re going to take your little ones, plan to go early before the drinking crowd shows up.

Go There:

The Green Beetle

325 S. Main St.
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 525-3354

Green Beetle  on Urbanspoon


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments

Comments

  1. Andrea Olson says:

    My grandfather actually DID eat/drink here. Glad it’s re-opened and the food looks delicious.

  2. John Scruggs says:

    A little history and an issue with your Beetle post –

    “It was open during prohibition, and it was open when downtown was super sketchy (it may have contributed a little of that sketchiness).”

    If the Green Beetle did indeed open in 1939, no, it was not open during the prohibition years. The 18th amendment went into effect in 1920 and the 21st amendment, which repealed prohibition, was ratified in 1933.

    I can’t speak to local alcohol laws in the late 30s, but Tennessee apparently ratified the 21st amendment in 1933.

  3. John – Thanks. I don’t know when I thought prohibition ended. It’s fixed now.

  4. Molly says:

    Ate lunch there the other day. The Cajun meatloaf could have used more heat. The horseradish mashed potatoes were fabulous, and the strawberry cake was really good. Service was very attentive and eager for our feedback.

  5. Wow, what an awesome post!!! check out the OFFICIAL Green Beetle blog at http://greenbeetleblog.blogspot.com/
    and ou facebook page!!! We’ve got a post abot the history, and our first week open!! Thanks so much for the coverage!! We apprecciate it!!!

  6. Oh and, the correct phone number is 901-527-7337
    Thanks!!

  7. Cindy says:

    I had lunch there Tuesday and dinner there Thursday. The spaghetti and meatballs was really good, and my buddy had the lasagna and said it was fabulous. I did have a chance to try the mac n cheese and the potato salad, loved them both! Service was great! I will be back!

  8. Brian Crider says:

    Went there opening afternoon/evening and it was better than before. Had a great Beetle Burger, a couple of Mothership Wits and was VERY happy to see another NON-SMOKING Downtown Bar/Restaurant. Overall was great and will definitely make it a regular stop. One downside… Fried Okra isn’t currently on their menu. I hope they add it back. 😉

  9. Lilly Donati Kingsley says:

    Frank Liberto was my mom’s first cousin and managed the Green Beatle at night for many years and her three sister work their during the day. I remember it well. I remember when they rented the rooms out upstairs to the riverbost guys and the bar was always packed. Have a great picture of my mom standing out front.

  10. RENEE says:

    To Mr. John Scruggs, you attempted to dis-credit the writer that stated the Green Beetle was open durning prohibition. well guess what it WAS. Myself and other frequented the bar  in the thirty's. You see my friend it was a speak easy back then. If your going to question something make sure you know what your questioning..
    The Green Beatle was a place to drink when you couldn't drink anywere else, except maybe the Cotton Club in West Memphis, Ak.
    The Green Beatle was always a Spot to be Seen at except by the copper's. There was also a little bit of gambling that  went on in the back room as well……so Mr. Know it All looks like your wrong after all….

  11. Fats Keeling says:

    I was a familiar figure at The Green Beetle while doing a tour of duty at NATTC, Memphis (Millington) in 1956.  I don't remember food being served  (I wasn't hanging around there to eat!), but I fondly remember the 5-cent draft beers!  I probably wouldn't recognize it now–it was nothing more than a deadfall in those days.

Leave a Comment