Day 5: January 24, 2010
From Blues to Country
Previous Day
Next Day
Site Home
Trip Home

'Tis a mystery. I've been to Memphis a few times and I've asked people for advice and I've had unsolicited suggestion, too. But I don't recall ever hearing of the Arcade Restaurant and this week I've heard the name from every other person and via email. The current buzz isn't at all surprising. It's the oldest restaurant in Memphis and by all accounts, including mine -- now, is a gem. Unless someone comes clean and reveals a conspiracy, I doubt I'll ever be able to explain why I had no idea this place existed until less than a week ago. I guess I'll just be embarrassed and get on with it.

Here is a restaurant that's seen ninety years of continuous operation and which I entered for the first time today. It's been in business since 1919, it's been in this building since 1925, and has been a mid-century Formica-topped diner since the 1950s. The staff and patrons were friendly; service and food excellent. It's everything a diner should be (except, as some insist, metal and movable). It's on Main Street less than a mile from Beale with a trolley stop almost at the door. I'll be back.

One of those friendly patrons told me that a crew from the Learning Channel had spent most of Thursday filming in the restaurant and one of the friendly waitresses told me that the producer happened to be sitting in a booth behind me. I made plans to stop by on the way out to see if I could get a better idea of when the show would air. As things happened, the producer and I rose at about the same time so I struck up a conversation at the cash register. The series will be broadcast starting in May though just when the Arcade will appear is yet to be determined. As I stood by the producer, a conversation developed between her and the cashier and a tall man soon joined in. I was still waiting to pay but listened with interest as the three chatted. After a bit, the man extended his hand to introduce himself. It was Arcade owner Harry Zepatos. Both he and the cashier figured that a guy with a camera standing next to the Learning Channel producer must be one of the crew.

I headed east on US-70. In Brownsville, I made a planned stop at the memorial that has so surprised and impressed me in 2005. The water tower that was being erected then is now complete. Possible future additions to the giant sculpture lay at the back of the lot. I could not find any 2005 pictures that show the bridge but I don't recall the painted trim and I know the trees weren't there. A little deterioration has begun on some of on the wooden Mine Field Stools but most are in pretty good shape. The stools and a few other pieces may eventually vanish but the metal skeleton of Billy Tripp's Mind Field is here to stay.

This was another planned stop. At least I hoped I could find the Broadway of America mural that was mentioned in a recent post in the South-West Roads and Highways Yahoo group. It pointed to this blog entry with a picture of the mural. As I headed out this morning, I realized that the only information on the mural's location was "In the heart of Dickson". I regretted not getting in touch with the blog owner to get more details. "In the heart of Dickson" proved to be quite enough. What could be more in the heart of Dickson than the intersection of Main Street and US-70B? That Graystone Hotel sign is certainly interesting. Could that building, now a jewelry store, have once housed a hotel?

The faded mural shows the route of the highway all across Tennessee though in an unusual west-on-the-right orientation. A larger (stitched) view is here. Now that I've discovered See Middle Tennessee, I think it's going to lead me to few more sights.

Since I hadn't heard any live music in a few hours, I made a for the Honky Tonks on Nashville's Broadway. Sunday isn't the hottest night in Nashville and rain cools it down even more. There was music (Tom Petty covers?) at The Bluegrass Inn. The extremely young (and good) harmonica player sat in for one Stevie Ray Vaughan song. They were playing Lynard Skynard tunes next door at the Second Fiddle. The Stage was closed (see next panel) and they were between bands at Tootie's when I walked in. Plus, every bar stool was taken.

Those trucks are the reason the Stage was closed. Filming for a movie called Love Don't Let Me Down, with Tim McGraw, was in progress inside.

[Prev] [Site Home] [Trip Home] [Contact] [Next]