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More on Beyond Brick and Mortar

In Wednesday’s edition of The Daily News, I’ll have a story about Stuart McGehee‘s new company “Beyond Brick and Mortar,” a digital media and Web design company.

His big focus is Web video and highly dynamic Web presences for companies. To that end, here’s an example of some recent video content McGehee himself has produced – the first is this summer’s annual luncheon for the Downtown Memphis Commission.

The second is an interview with Gwin Scott, president of EmergeMemphis.

Both videos come from McGehee’s YouTube channel, richnessofexperience.

The DMC video:


The EmergeMemphis video:


And here’s an excerpt from “The Corporate Digital Divide”, a commentary by McGehee -

“Social media is all the buzz these days, and Corporate America is voluntarily embracing social media marketing like never before. Facebook! Twitter! LinkedIn! Like me! Follow me! Join my network! Perhaps the most perplexing omission of the social media marketing efforts is the death of web-based video, especially YouTube videos. After all, in the pecking order of effective communication methods, video ranks 3rd in the hierarchy behind face-to-face and telephone and certainly ahead of emails, texts, tweets and Facebook posts.”

Regions Bank customers – you just caught a break, too

Following up on my post below about Regions being one of the last major banks not to announce any kind of revision or softening of the blow of its new debit card fee policy, Regions has changed the chorus of “we changed our minds.”

Here’s the release that just went out from the bank -


In response to feedback from customers, Regions Bank (NYSE:RF) today announced that it has eliminated the monthly CheckCard fee for all accounts, effective Nov. 1, and will refund CheckCard fees already incurred.

“We are committed to providing an exceptional customer experience and are continually adapting our products and services in response to the needs and preferences of our customers,” said John Owen, head of Consumer Services for Regions Bank. “We have heard from our customers and are responding to their feedback by eliminating the monthly fee for CheckCards.”

Customers who previously incurred a CheckCard fee will not need to take any action to receive their refund and it will be credited to their account on Nov. 4.

SunTrust debit card users – rejoice

With the announcement today from SunTrust Banks Inc. that it has eliminated the monthly check card fee on its Everyday Checking Account, that – plus similar recent announcement from a few other banks – leaves Regions Financial as the remaining large bank still hanging on to its plan to add new fees for debit card users.

SunTrust’s fee will no longer be charged starting Wednesday, Nov. 2. All clients who incur – or have already incurred – the debit card fee before that date will get a refund.

In a statement about the policy shift, SunTrust consumer banking and private wealth management executive Brad Dinsmore said: “We believe banking is a relationship business and recognize the importance of responding to client preferences. We’ve listened to our clients’ feedback and will provide the convenience and security of check cards at no additional charge as part of all of our checking accounts.”

Meanwhile, Bank of America has begun rolling out ways customers can avoid its new debit card fees. Wells Fargo has also pulled back from such fees.

No word yet if Regions will change course.

Grill 83 to open as Eighty3 Nov. 16

Owners of Memphis-based Grill 83, 83 Madison Ave., recently announced plans for an evolution of its restaurant brand, which includes modernizing the dining experience with an updated physical space, introduction of various global small plates cultivated locally and an emphasis on the enjoyment of eating and sharing meals together.

The restaurant will receive an updated version of the existing name to mirror the evolution and will be branded as Eighty3.

The design and creation behind this new concept was cultivated in partnership with Pilot Light, a hospitality consulting company made up of chef partners Frank Fronda and Rodelio Aglibot.

Fronda is a renowned West Coast executive chef, who spent time in the kitchens of New York City restaurants Palio and Harold’s, as well as restaurants in the Metropolitan Opera House and Metropolitan Museum of Art, before serving as executive chef of Napa Valley Grilles in New Jersey and California. Fronda then moved onto Los Angeles landmarks Café del Rey and the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Aglibot, known as “The Food Buddha” from TLC’s show of the same name, also received notoriety as opening executive chef of Koi Restaurant in Los Angeles, Calif., and as executive chef of Sunda in Chicago, in addition to several other successful restaurant ventures. Aglibot also recently served as executive corporate chef for BLT Restaurant Group based in New York City.

The process of the evolution began Sunday, Oct. 30, when the restaurant’s service was temporarily moved into the Madison Hotel Mezzanine, where a menu of Grill 83’s most popular dishes are available, in addition to special preview items from the new Eighty3 menu each day.

The restaurant space will reopen as Eighty3 Wednesday, Nov. 16.

“We are excited about evolving as a restaurant brand,” said Mohamad Hakimian, managing partner of Madison Hotel, which operates Grill 83. “We wanted to bring a playfulness back to the dining experience, and by combining a colorful and lively environment with a flexible, interactive and versatile menu, Eighty3 not only offers its patrons a new and unique way to enjoy food, but also a way to really enjoy sharing a meal with others. Eighty3 will be a fantastic place to meet friends and family for a fun, delicious and memorable dining experience.”

Eighty3 will be open seven days a week during breakfast, lunch and dinner hours with brunch served Saturdays and Sundays.

The menu will feature a variety of small and large plates, including appetizers, broths, artisan breads, salads and both small and large versions of main dishes. A few “Grill Favorites” will remain available on the new menu.

Customers can stay informed on the evolution process by finding Eighty3 on Facebook.

Joe Brown and ‘Gingerbread Land’


When it meets Tuesday, the Memphis City Council is expected to be done with the Ramesses the Great statue in front of The Pyramid.

The council will vote on what amounts to giving the 50 ton replica of an Egyptian antiquity to the University of Memphis whose Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology was instrumental in curating the Wonders exhibit on ancient Egypt in the late 1980s.

The transfer was held up by council member Joe Brown who had a point. To make his point about the exact wording of the arrangement between the city and the government of Egypt he brought in former Memphis Mayor Dick Hackett and Glen Campbell the head of the old Wonders series. The agreement with Egypt was that the city could not sell the Ramesses replica. So it is being called something other than a sale and the university still pays the cost of moving the icon as The Pyramid is prepped for its arena after life.

Brown is likely to remain a vocal presence on the council which, despite the re-election of all 12 incumbents seeking re-election this past month, is proving to be a volatile group.

Council member Janis Fullilove has pledged to question everything Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. sends to the council after Wharton endorsed her challenger in the elections.

Council member Wanda Halbert joined Fullilove in complaining that she and Fullilove are treated differently because they are women.

And Brown is on a post election tear as well that began before the election when the matter of the Ramesses statue came before the Housing and Community Development committee he chairs.

The matter coincided with Wharton’s ballot which made no endorsement in Brown’s successful bid for re-election.

After weeks of delays and Brown cutting off administration officials, the committee he heads finally cleared the way for the city to do what it wanted to with the statue two weeks ago.

“This ends the issue,” Brown declared as the committee moved it on to the full council for a vote. “It’s all about compromise and understanding. … Everybody can go to gingerbread land now.”

Before that Brown cornered city engineer John Cameron to ask him why Madison Avenue was being “torn up” for bike lanes when other streets hadn’t been repaved in years.

“You work for the mayor,” he added. “I work for the people.”

He asked city chief administrative officer George Little what he was smoking as they talked over another matter.

Brown called the Overton Park Conservancy an “exterior committee” and wondered why Gary Shorb and George Cates of the group didn’t brief him on their plans.

Cates said he had tried repeatedly to talk to Brown about the efforts and had met with every other council member separately about it and would be willing to talk with Brown any time about the plans.

Brown then said he was only kidding.

As quickly as Brown makes points he veers to other subjects and sometimes to other encounters in the committee room. It’s not unusual for Brown to speak so softly the person next to him can’t hear what he’s saying. It’s alternately not unusual for Brown to make a point at an audible level, conclude his point and immediately turn in his chair, spot someone in the committee room and begin talking with them while still at the table as someone else is trying to make their point. He also does the same during the full council session.

To be fair, the noise level can be pretty high during committee sessions which is where much of the council’s discussion and fact gathering takes places every other Tuesday. And Brown certainly isn’t the only council member working the room.

He’s just the second most senior council member on the body now after chairman Myron Lowery.