Monday, November 13, 2006

Beer Garden Fantasy

Last Thursday, I read that Raffe’s Deli was having the grand opening of their Beer Garden on Friday. Beer Garden. These two words immediately stirred visions of lush green grass in my mind. The weather had been so amazing on Wednesday and Thursday, I wanted nothing more than to sit outside somewhere with a cold one in my hand and enjoy it. Preferably with my family and friends.

Now, I have been to Raffe’s before and I am well aware that it is nothing more than a convenience store (with an awesome beer selection) and deli. I figured that their idea of a beer garden would be a glorified patio, but I was fine with that as long as it was enclosed. Raffe’s has one of my favorite beers, good food, and a casual atmosphere. I figured that considering the weather, the Raffe’s version of a Beer Garden was just the place for a bunch of thirsty parents and hungry kids to be on Friday night.

I emailed the crew to see who was in. Normally with monkey convergences there is quite a bit of back and forth as to where and when to go, but not this time. Apparently the words beer and garden were just as appealing to my friends as they were to me. I’m not completely naïve though. I did suggest that someone try and do a drive-by so that we wouldn’t end up with our kids dangerously close to Poplar while we enjoyed our dinner and beer.

Unfortunately no one was available for a drive-by so I called to get the scoop. “So tell me about this beer garden,” I said to the young woman who answered the phone.

“Uh, like what?” she said.

“Is it inside or outside?” I asked.

“Oh it’s in a building next door. There was a family emergency so it isn’t really finished yet. We plan to have a patio by Spring.”

“Oh,” I said, clearly deflated.

“But it’s nice,” she said trying to cheer me up. “You can order any of the beers and sandwiches from Raffe’s and there will be specials, like shish kebob, on the weekends. And maybe even belly dancers.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said before hanging up.

Once I knew that the beer garden was just a restaurant, I wasn’t nearly as excited about going. However, it was about 4pm by the time I discovered this. Most of the crew involved in this venture has the same problem—too little house and not enough yard for 20+ plus people, most of whom are monkeys. So we had to suck it up. I figured going to a plain ol’ restaurant with 100 different beers would be fun enough.

The Chockleys were deployed at 5:30pm to reserve a table for twenty. At 5:32pm, I had the following conversation with Chip.

“Uh, we went to Raffe’s and after peeking in some dusty, barred up windows, found the beer garden.”

“Uh-huh,” I said.

“A man asked us what we were doing and when we replied that we were going to the beer garden for a drink, he said, ‘But you have children. It is a bar. You cannot go there.’”

“Uh-oh,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s pretty sketchy,” Chip said.

“Dammit!” I cursed the gods.

“Should we just get a table at El Porton?” he asked.

“Okay,” I said in my best the sun will come out tomorrow tone.

As I made my way to El Porton, I mourned the loss of my beer garden dreams. Was it crazy to want to have a beer in a kid-friendly place? Is that idea just too progressive for Memphis? I know these places exist and I want one here!

Just last week I read a Gastrokid reader's description of her favorite place, Laurelwood Brewpubs, in Orgeon: We Portlanders LOVE our microbrews and these brewpubs offer awesome traditional yet slightly upscale pub food plus they have a kids play area. Their kids menu has a lot of offerings and the servers are used to serving beer with kids running afoot. Great place to meet friends with kids and pretend you are still hip and have a life.

I vote that we get one of these kid-friendly pubs going in the building that once housed the Chicago Pizza Factory. They have a great little patio area and are, well, right across the street from me! They could have a beer garden in the evenings and a great breakfast on the scale of Brother Juniper’s in the mornings. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Or hey, Bosco’s could just tear down Yosemite Sam’s and create a little park like place with a playground in the middle and picnic table around the perimeter…all walled in of course…for families. Yeah, that might actually work better.


Memphisotan said...

I notice there hasn't been a strong push to get us to document this latest convergence. Are we all just blocking it out?

Anonymous said...


Stephanie said...

Whatever- the patio at El Porton is awesome!

Stacey Greenberg said...

yes it is awewsome, but by 8:00pm the monkeys had long since worn out their welcome.

Anonymous said...

I reccomend that next time you hit St. Louis, you make time to rent a bike and do the Katy Trail to Augusta. There is a really great beer garden there.

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