Friday, September 27, 2019

Paula & Raiford's Continues to Amaze, Bluff City Law, Asbee BBQ, Food Fight

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2019 at 1:41 PM

click to enlarge I'm honored to be in this photo with the late, great Robert Raiford and the great great Paula Raiford. This was taken at a Blues Ball at the Gibson Guitar Factory.
  • I'm honored to be in this photo with the late, great Robert Raiford and the great great Paula Raiford. This was taken at a Blues Ball at the Gibson Guitar Factory.

As far as I know, I was the first reporter to do a story on Raiford’s Hollywood Disco, the nightspot owned by the late Robert Raiford. This was when the club was on Vance near Main.

 Raiford’s Hollywood Disco was a mini discotheque, complete with smoke machine and disco ball. Guests drank beer from “40s” (40-ounce bottles) and danced on a smallish dance floor. The flamboyant Raiford was the deejay and changed outfits many times during the evening. He loved to laugh.

I remember taking Jack and Marilyn Belz to Raiford’s Hollywood Disco one night after a party at Belz’s hotel, The Peabody. They didn’t stay long, but they had a blast.

Paula Raiford, Robert’s daughter, opened Paula & Raiford’s at 14 South Second in April, 2009. It’s a bigger version of Raiford’s Hollywood Disco They’ve got the smoke, the music, a bigger (I think) dance floor, a disco ball, the 40s, and much more. For years, Robert Raiford was the deejay.

Raiford was deejay and honored at the Blues Ball.  I remember when he was the deejay at the over-the-top-fun barbecue team Cadillac Grillz at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

The magic of the Raiford family continues.

Paula & Raiford’s Disco was voted “Best After Hours Night Spot,” “Best Nightclub,” and “Best Dance Club” in the Flyer’s recent 2019 Best of Memphis.

And this isn’t something new. I looked at a spreadsheet going back to 2016 and discovered Raiford’s Hollywood Disco tied with Alex's Tavern for “Best After Hours Club” in 2000 and won in 2002, 2005 and 2008. Paula & Raiford’s Disco won in 2010, 2011, 2012 (tying with Earnestine & Hazel’s), 2013, and 2015.

Raiford’s Hollywood Disco won “Best Dance Club”  in 2008 and 2009. Paula & Raiford’s Disco won in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016.

So, what is it about Paula & Raiford’s that makes it so special? “I think it’s just a genuine place that people just love,” Paula says. “My family and I have dedicated so much to it. Just giving back to people. They can enjoy themselves, let their hair hang down, and leave their worries at the door.”

And, she says, “My dad’s spirit is in here. Whether day or night his spirit enters people’s bodies when they step in.”

A supply man who was at the club that day told her, “I feel the energy in here,” Paula says. “And nobody is here.”

What was special about her dad? “He just loved the world. He put no ‘little you big me’ in his life. He treated everybody equal. It made him glow.”

When strangers saw her dad at the grocery story, they said, “You are somebody.” They wanted to know, ‘Who are you?’”

For some background on Robert Raiford, here’s a link to an award-winning Memphis Magazine story on the Memphis legend written by Memphis Flyer managing editor Shara Clark in 2016.

click to enlarge Cory Hollywood, Paula Raiford, and Zareon Anthony at the Best of Memphis party, which was held Sept. 25th at the Creative Arts Building at the Fairgrounds. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Cory Hollywood, Paula Raiford, and Zareon Anthony at the Best of Memphis party, which was held Sept. 25th at the Creative Arts Building at the Fairgrounds.

click to enlarge Unofficial Official Downtown Bluff City Law Watch Party - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Unofficial Official Downtown Bluff City Law Watch Party

OK. I’m a fan of “Bluff City Law.”

Other reporters at The Flyer covered events surrounding the filming of the TV series in Memphis, so I’ve been out of the loop. And I haven’t seen Jimmy Smits anywhere. But I watched the first episode at the “Unofficial Official Downtown Bluff City Watch Party,” which was held Sept. 23rd in Court Square. I loved the show. And not just the scenes of Memphis. The plot and the characters were captivating.

I had so much fun I wish they’d show every episode each week on a big screen outdoors in Court Square - at least on the good nights this Fall. I’m serious. I loved the diversity at the event. Everybody looked like they were having a good time. Some people brought chairs. Lots of people sat on the Hebe fountain ledge. One couple brought brownies and other goodies along with wine. There were food trucks, too. And I loved the way people clapped when they saw shots of Memphis, including Rum Boogie Cafe and The Four Way Soul Food Restaurant.

Kontji Anthony and Joe Birch from WMC-TV were the hosts along with Jayne Atkinson, who plays “Della Robinson” on “Bluff City Law.” The event was presented by the Downtown Memphis Commission with support from Rachel’s Salon and Spa in Court Square and Walking Pants and Curiosities on South Main.


Actually, it was Atkinson’s idea to hold the event, says Penelope Huston, Downtown Memphis Commission vice-president marketing, communications, and events. Atkinson, who is a client of Rachel’s Salon, talked to salon owner Paige Garland. “Jayne Atkinson mentioned to Paige that she wished there could be some way we could do a public showing,” Huston says. “Paige called me and said, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘Yes.’”

About 1,000 people attended, Huston estimates. The event was “the most diverse - both race and age - from all over the city. It wasn’t just downtown. It was a beautiful mix of what Memphis really looks like. I was blown away. I love how Memphis shows up.”



click to enlarge Penelope Huston at Unofficial Official Downtown Bluff City Law Watch Party - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Penelope Huston at Unofficial Official Downtown Bluff City Law Watch Party
click to enlarge Paige Garland at Unofficial Official Downtown Bluff City Law Watch Party - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Paige Garland at Unofficial Official Downtown Bluff City Law Watch Party

click to enlarge Michael Patrick, Erling Jensen, David Krog, and Randy Jefferson, who made the salads, participated in the Great Memphis Food Fight. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Michael Patrick, Erling Jensen, David Krog, and Randy Jefferson, who made the salads, participated in the Great Memphis Food Fight.

I was a “tester,” but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Great Memphis Food Fight fundraiser for Grace House, which was held Sept. 19th at Memphis Botanic Garden. Were the chefs going to throw food at each other high school cafeteria style?

Instead, celebrity chefs Erling Jensen of Erling Jensen: The Restaurant, Michael Patrick of Rizzo's Diner, and David Krog from the upcoming Dory restaurant, prepared a dish. The preparation and final product were shown to the audience and the taste testers on big screens. When they finished, the tasters tried the respective dishes first. Then the guests lined up and ate the same thing buffet style.

A total of 250 people attended and $38,600 was raised, says Sherry Gardner, vice chair of the Grace House board.

Grace House, a drug addiction treatment center in Memphis, was founded in 1976.


click to enlarge David Krog and Zach Thomason at Great Memphis Food Fight. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • David Krog and Zach Thomason at Great Memphis Food Fight.
click to enlarge ASBEE (Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth) Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • ASBEE (Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth) Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival

Participants got creative with their names at the ASBEE (Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth) Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival. Teams included the Jewbie Brothers, Bar B’ Jews, Motley Jew, and Jew-Rassic Park.

The event, which was held Sept. 15th at Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Synagogue, celebrated its 31st anniversary. I’ve been a judge at this event for many years. I think I’ve judged all categories, including brisket, ribs, and chicken and beans. I was a ribs judge this year. I think I tried nine entries.

More than 2,500 attended this year’s event, says Sarah Beth Cohen-Wilcox with the festival. Thirty-six teams participated. And Sam Fargotstein won the adult pickle eating contest.

click to enlarge Sam Fargotstein, center, won the adult dill pickle eating contest at the ASBEE (Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth) Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival. - SARAH BETH COHEN-WILCOX
  • Sarah Beth Cohen-Wilcox
  • Sam Fargotstein, center, won the adult dill pickle eating contest at the ASBEE (Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth) Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival.

click to enlarge Bernice Xu, Sue Hirschman, and Dave Scott were at the ASBEE (Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth) Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Bernice Xu, Sue Hirschman, and Dave Scott were at the ASBEE (Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth) Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival

click to enlarge 100 Women Who Care chose Memphis Inner City Rugby as its winning non-profit
  • 100 Women Who Care chose Memphis Inner City Rugby as its winning non-profit

Memphis Inner City Rugby was the 100 Women Who Care winning non-profit “after giving a very compelling presentation,” says board member Madelyn Gray. The winner was announced at a meeting, which was held Sept. 17th at Malco Forest Hill Cinema Grill in Germantown.

Members of 100 Women Who Care heard from three local non-profits about their mission and what they’re trying to do to help better the community. Members then voted on which non-profit best deserves the money. All members wrote a check directly to the chosen non-profit.

Memphis Inner City Rugby received $12,000.



                                       WE SAW YOU AROUND TOWN


click to enlarge Aldrin Romero, Norma Romero, Angelica Perez, Rigoberto Perez, Manuel Martinez, Lisha Dai, Preston Maciel at Gibson's Donuts - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Aldrin Romero, Norma Romero, Angelica Perez, Rigoberto Perez, Manuel Martinez, Lisha Dai, Preston Maciel at Gibson's Donuts
click to enlarge Andrew Hayes and Maxwell on South Main. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Andrew Hayes and Maxwell on South Main.



click to enlarge Gracie Hall and Heath Williams at Christian Brothers High School homecoming. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Gracie Hall and Heath Williams at Christian Brothers High School homecoming.



click to enlarge CBHS homecoming. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • CBHS homecoming.
click to enlarge John Riley at CBHS homecoming. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • John Riley at CBHS homecoming.
click to enlarge John Elmore and Natalie Vasquez at Celtic Crossing. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • John Elmore and Natalie Vasquez at Celtic Crossing.

click to enlarge Sissy Criss and Rachel Black at Little Tea Shop. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sissy Criss and Rachel Black at Little Tea Shop.
click to enlarge From my office window. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • From my office window.

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