Play It Again: Musical Memphis Is Poised to Become the Next Great Weekend Getaway
ONE CAN SIMPLY hear Hopper Seely’s name to know he was destined to brew beer. The native Memphian — a charming 30-something built like one of the Avengers — opened his Grind City Brewery during the pandemic in a former furniture factory, situated on a nearly five-acre property with views of the downtown skyline. He is one of many reimagining Memphis — a storied town known for its soul, rock and roll, barbecue and Black history — for savvy weekend travelers.
The centerpiece of Memphis’ transformation is the massive investment made by another 30-something Memphian, Chance Carlisle. His investment firm is spending $400 million on three Hyatt-branded hotels, the first of which, Hyatt Centric, opened during the pandemic in a converted ironworks factory.
Opening nearby in the next year are the Grand Hyatt and Caption by Hyatt, the latter a Gen Z-focused concept — one of only two in the world; the other is in Tokyo. The hotels alight on the Mississippi River, along Beale Street, the city’s iconic nightlife center immortalized by B.B. King and Elvis Presley.
Beck & Call, the rooftop whiskey lounge at the Hyatt Centric
A Christmas tree on Beale Street
The Arcade Restaurant in South Main District
The Hyatt Centric — the first-ever hotel on Beale Street, if you can believe it — took its design cues from the best parts of Memphis. Think treble-clef light fixtures in the hallways with carpets that look like soundwaves; the front desk is made from salvaged iron from the old factory, and the walls of the frosted-glass showers are adorned with the names of local hot spots.
On the ground floor is the city’s only riverside restaurant, Cimas, with floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the view. The menu is Latin-American with a touch of Southern charm for good measure. Brunch, for example, brings carnitas hash with sweet potato edamame succotash — or, for an Insta-worthy moment, there’s the coconut-and-corn-flake-crusted French toast.
The bar program here is anything but typical. Mark, the head bartender and part-time trombone player (because, well, Memphis) makes a mean dry martini.
Upstairs is another first: the city’s only rooftop bar with views of what the locals refer to as the “M” bridge — named for the bridge’s shape — that stretches across the Mississippi and features a themed-light show every evening at sundown.
Within walking distance of the hotel are endless food and live-music options. On Beale Street, you’ll find a lively atmosphere with street performers. Plus, expect live goats (yes, goats) at Irish pub Silky O’ Sullivans — and B.B. King’s has live music seven days a week starting at 11am.
A couple of blocks over, the juxtaposition of old-and-new Memphis is even more apparent. The town’s oldest operating café, The Arcade, opened in 1919; there’s a small shrine to Elvis at the back corner booth he used to frequent. Meanwhile, up the street is SOB —South of Beale — a still-new spot with hip dishes like General Tso’s Cauliflower.
It would be a crime to visit Memphis and not indulge in the friendly-rival barbecue joints. The town is famous for its dry ribs and vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Rendezvous BBQ is an easy walk from the Hyatt Centric, while a short Uber away is Central BBQ, known for its barbecue nachos, which are just as satisfying as they sound.
Throughout the city, Memphis continues to pay homage to its heritage. But it is ready for its second act in the new decade.