Tuesday News Update: New Hotels, Whataburger, and Winnings...Ain't It Good?!

There's a lot of good news in Memphis! Here are this week's highlights. 

If you need a soundtrack while you read this quick roundup of positive and happy stories from around Memphis—check out our theme song, “Ain’t It Good?!”, by Eddie Floyd and Mavis Staples.

SUBMIT YOUR GOOD NEWS TO [email protected]
The Bar-b-q Shop / Craig Thompson
The Bar-B-Q Shop was named to the Top 20 Black-Owned BBQ Restaurants by expert Adrian Miller.

It’s finally happening, we’re getting a Whataburger. 

And by “we” I mean Southaven. My tiktok may or may not have aged well, depending on how you feel about driving to Southaven. Response to the announcement ranged from jubilation to apathy to disappointment. Mississippi needs spicy ketchup, too, I guess. —HW

Some Quick Updates:

Theatre Memphis Wins!  

Theatre Memphis won the Diamond Crown Organizational Award by the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT). The 2020 and 2021 AACT National Award presentations will be pre-recorded and streamed during Virtual AACTFest 2021 National Theatre Festival, Saturday, June 19, beginning at 11:45AM (Eastern). They’re celebrating 100 years this year and have a totally renovated space. —EH

Live Theater Returns To Overton Square

Playhouse on the Square, Circuit Playhouse, and Theatreworks theaters are all returning to in-person performances! This season, they’ll host 4 world premiere shows and 5 regional premieres. That means shows you haven’t seen before! Check out the season schedule and get your tickets at playhouseonthesquare.org. —HW

Nominate your favorite server, tour guide, or tourism pro for a Pick Award!

Welcome to Memphis is relaunching their Quarterly Pick Awards! This award is for anyone in the hospitality and tourism industry, including wait staff, cleaning crew members, tour guides, hotel staff, ticket agents, and meeting planners.

The winner will be presented at the Pick Awards Party sometime in the fall of 2021 with a trophy and a $500 cash prize. Two runners-up are awarded a $250 cash prize. Winners are chosen by an independent committee of industry leaders. Nominate your awesome employees here! —EH

Give901 Needs Your Help For Summer Learning Kits 

Did you know that over 60 percent of low-income children don’t have books in their home and aren’t reading at grade level? Give 901 is here to fix that by offering Summer Learning Kits.

Each kit offers resources like books, STEM activities, and supplies to keep children in under-resourced communities learning through the summer. For just $25, you can buy a Summer Learning Kit to keep a Memphis child inspired and learning! Donate here. —EH

hotel lobby with teal walls, leopard chairs, striped flooring and eclectic art
Alex Shanksy
Lobby of The Memphian Hotel.

Restaurants Opening and Reopening

I can barely keep up with the restaurant news these days, and that’s a good thing! Check out the full list of new restaurants on the New Restaurants 2021 Guide (updated weekly-ish) and the Reopened Bars & Restaurants Guide. A few highlights: Pontotoc Lounge, South of Beale, The Majestic, and Longsho downtown have all reopened, and Cafe Keough reopens on May 12. —HW

Hooray for new hotels!

ICYMI, two new hotels opened in last few weeks in Memphis—more place for your friends to stay when they visit or for you to take a staycation.

The Memphian in Overton Square is a boutique hotel with 106 rooms and suites, a rooftop restaurant that’s opening in June, and a downstairs restaurant. It’s basically the first hotel in midtown in a long time, and much needed.

The Hyatt Centric opened downtown at One Beale with 227 rooms and 12 suites. They also have a rooftop lounge and a downstairs restaurant. —HW

Teach For America Alumni Are Awesome

Teach For America (“TFA”) virtually hosted their Annual Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award Ceremony on April 8. The following TFA Alumni were the finalists: Emily Abeles (Memphis ‘06), Meili Powell (Memphis ‘17), Craig Robinson (Memphis ‘ 14), Ashley Shores (Memphis ‘08), and Britney Thornton (Memphis ‘14)

All finalists receive a $1,000 reward for doing innovative work to disrupt systems of inequality in Memphis. To learn more about these educators and their work click here! —EH

Cooper Young Is Cool 

Travel site Love Exploring named Cooper-Young one of their top 30 coolest neighborhoods in America! Check out the article here. —EH

Memphis Love From Oklahoma 

Tulsa, Oklahoma’s News on 6 featured Memphis in their Trips on a Tankful series. Within less than 6 hours, Oklahomans can experience the bluff city with this great list of things to see and do in and on the way to Memphis! Check out the feature here. —EH

shuffleboard game in basement bar
Holly Whitfield
Longshot bar and restaurant has reopened; it's in the lower level of the ARRIVE hotel.


My colleague Elizabeth Hornor and I work together on this weekly update, so going forward you’ll see that reflected by the sign-off initials for each bit of news. PLEASE submit your local good news by emailing her [email protected] with the subject line “Ain’t It Good”. **

** More about submitting: We’re looking for nonprofit successes, random victories, acts of kindness, rescued baby animals, positive national news coverage of Memphis…any thing that brings joy and brags a little on the people of our city. Send it in, and your story could appear on a future blog post!

Ed. Note: Special thanks to Kevin Brewer for the “Ain’t It Good” song suggestion and to Elizabeth Hornor for her assistance with this article.

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