One of the things that stood out to me in my colleague Bill Dries’ exit interview with Mayor Wharton is the mayor’s assessment of his political legacy, which Wharton views as the civic pride that’s swept through the city in recent years.

“I would think it’s the intangible of how we changed the attitude of Memphis as we see ourselves, and we also changed the way the larger outside world sees us,” Wharton said. “We were kind of down on ourselves. … We were starting to believe that stuff. We weathered the recession. We had a recession of the spirit about the same time we had an economic recession, and that’s a bad condition.”

Five years ago, when he was still settling in at City Hall, the mayor gave me some insight into what the above quote means.

In this piece I wrote back in 2010, we got a look at the mayor as a sort of one-man chamber of commerce. I caught up with him after he’d just come back from New York City and met with the chairman and CEO of Sharp Electronics Corp., which Wharton was helping encourage to keep Memphis on its radar.

A flurry of out of town trips to Washington and elsewhere followed. And this is what the mayor told me back then, harkening to the pride he was trying to help foment in Memphis, particularly in the business community here:

“I’m coming up on my 40th (wedding) anniversary,” Wharton said. “I don’t take roses home as often as I did. But you’ve got to take something home. Don’t take anything for granted. With our existing employers, it’s like a marriage that’s gotten some age to it. ‘Oh, we’ve got them here, they aren’t going anywhere.’ But there’s people bringing them roses, perfume and sweet music every day. I want to start taking them roses, perfume and sweet music. Whether it’s to southeast Shelby County or Southeast Asia, we’re going to be there.”

A new force awakens at Memphis City Hall…

Think you know Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland? This satirical, lightsaber-filled video from the Greater Memphis Chamber Chairman’s Luncheon shows a side of the mayor-to-be that you probably didn’t see on the campaign trail:

“He keeps referring to planes as X-wings,” says Grindfather (and Memphis International Airport spokesman) Tony Allen. “I don’t want to be rude, so I just nod.”

May the force be with you too, mayor.

– Kate Simone

The Peabody, at Thanksgiving and Christmas

Some holiday-related facts about the South’s Grand Hotel:

The Peabody will serve Thanksgiving dinner to about 1,800 guests, between Thanksgiving brunch and holiday events in Chez Philippe and Capriccio Grill, according to the hotel. For Thanksgiving meals at the hotel, that amounts to about 140 turkeys the Peabody chefs will prepare, along with 500 pounds of potatoes and 20 pounds of cranberries. Also part of the feast – 200 pounds of green beans, 400 pounds of free range chicken, 120 pounds of prime rib, and the hotel expects to go through 30 gallons of orange juice and 150 bottles of champagne. A 36-foot-long dessert table will include 600 mini cookies, 400 mini cheesecakes, 400 crème brulee minis, 200 bite-sized brownies, and 5,000 other small desserts.

Looking ahead to Christmas:

The Christmas tree that stands in The Peabody’s Grand Lobby is 30 feet tall and has about 20,000 lights on it. It takes 20 florists 7 hours to put up and decorate. There are an additional 11 Christmas trees and 600 feet of lighted garland used to decorate the Lobby, Mezzanine and remainder of the hotel. The grand lobby is where the hotel also presents a giant gingerbread display featuring a traditional Christmas village. It was made using 400 pounds of sugar, 120 pounds of flour, 4 gallons of molasses, 300 eggs plus 8 gallons of egg whites, 5 pounds of gingerbread spices, and 50 pounds of assorted candy.

Here’s a time-lapse video of the tree going up:

New Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman restaurant planned for the Big Easy

Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman are venturing outside the Memphis market for their next restaurant venture.

In the spring, the chefs are opening a restaurant in New Orleans’ new Ace Hotel, according to

The restaurant will be housed in an Art Deco high-rise Ace is restoring in the city.

Word of the new eatery follows on the heels of the announcement that the longtime friends and restaurateurs are headed outside Brookhaven Circle for the first time with their fourth restaurant concept planned for Carlisle Corp.’s The Chisca on Main. That concept, Catherine and Mary’s – which we wrote about here – is named for the pair’s grandmothers Catherine Chiozza and Mary Spinosa and will join LYFE Kitchen on the first level of The Chisca, offering traditional Italian cooking through the lens of the American South.

Already in Memphis, the chefs’ restaurant concepts include Brookhaven Circle’s Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Hog & Hominy and Porcellino’s Craft Butcher.

Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler partnering with Youth Villages

In November of 1989, Aerosmith released its hit song “Janie’s Got a Gun.” The song, as the title implies, took a direct route to the issue of child abuse.

Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler

Now Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, who co-wrote the song, has announced a partnership with nonprofit Youth Villages in Memphis: “Janie’s Fund” will have the goal of providing trauma-informed care and experiential therapies to girls who have histories of being abused and/or neglected.

Each year, it is estimated that one in five girls in the United States is a victim of sexual abuse.

“As a father and grandfather, I want to focus my energy on things that really matter and leave behind something else in this crazy world along with my music,” Tyler said in a statement.

Janie’s Fund will have “54 days of impact;” the campaign started on Nov. 8, the 26th anniversary of the song’s release, and will run through the end of the year.

Youth Villages will use Janie’s Fund in several ways: to support its work with girls who have been abused and neglected, including in intensive in-home services; for residential treatment services; for YVLifeSet services for girls aging out of foster care; and in experiential therapies such as therapeutic drumming.

Anyone who signs up to support Janie’s Fund during these 54 days becomes a founding member and receives limited-edition merchandise from Tyler. Fans can visit to become a founding member. Supporters also can register to win the Ultimate Rock Icon Experience with Steven Tyler prize, which includes walking the red carpet and VIP backstage passes to Tyler’s new solo album release party and concert as well as hanging with Tyler before and after the show. In addition, founding members are recognized in perpetuity on

“We appreciate Steven using his big voice on these girls’ behalf,” said Patrick Lawler, CEO of Youth Villages.

During the past 10 years, the organization has helped more than 20,000 girls who have experienced abuse and/or neglect and expects to help nearly 4,000 such girls this year in its programs in 12 states and Washington, D.C.

– Don Wade