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Memphis Dive Bar Adventures: Down by Sundown

by Rob Bellinger
photos by Rob Bellinger and Dan Meade

The Memphis dive bar scene is legendary, but not many people outside Memphis know that.  Here are the ten most insane Memphis dive bar adventures we had, over the course of just six nights.  All the stories are true.  Take your pick — one or all!

The Last Real Place in MemphisActual Meth Camper | Snake Tattoo Face | Down by Sundown | Ghost Mustang & the Magic Skillet | Bar-B-Brawl at the Bar That Never Closes | Perfect Ribs at 3 a.m. | Cougar in Training | Searching for Life on the Mississippi | PRAYING FOR YOU HATERZ

 

EPISODE FOUR: DOWN BY SUNDOWN, OR, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE P&H CAFE

The P&H, or Poor & Hungry, Cafe looks both poor and hungry.  Its facade mixes glass, brick, and plywood in a very unplanned and occasionally unpainted way.  The whole building looks like it would be the first thing to blow away in a tornado.  But the P&H doesn’t judge, and neither should you.  In fact, all you need to do is step inside to discover that the rec-room-like dive is one of the most welcoming rooms in Memphis.MEMDIVE_PHint_summ

P&H Interior

We first went to the P&H early on a Tuesday evening with a motley crew that included Manic Americans Dan and myself, a Local Celebrity who was doing a national TV show, a Commercial Appeal reporter (that’s Memphis’s major daily), a Memphis Zoo worker, and our host.

As we stepped into the P&H, which was pretty much empty, the first thing we saw was an unconscious man on his back.  He was lying on the floor, right at the end of the bar.

We gasped.

Diabetic coma?  Heart attack?  Choking?  Four people, including the bartender on duty and most of the patrons, hovered over the stricken man.  I was about to ask if anyone had called 911, when the group of four lifted the man by his arms and legs, then carried him out the front door.

P&H Nuts

I half expected them to toss the body in the street, the way cartoon drunks get thrown through double doors.  But they just kept carrying the guy across Madison Avenue.  His head swung like a pendulum.  It was still light out.  Several times the P&H pallbearers looked like they were about to lose their cargo to the pavement, but they sallied on to the other side of the street.  They kept going.  The typically vacant sidewalks bore no witness to this insanity.

WTF Creature

Now, no one was tending bar.  I considered pouring our group a pitcher and leaving a five on the counter.

It was too quiet.

“What the fuck was that?” I said, to no one in particular.

“Oh, that’s just one of the owners,” said one of the remaining customers. “Some dude bet him he couldn’t drink a whole bottle of Jameson.  He won.  They’re just bringing him home.  He lives across the street.”

Choose Your Next Adventure:

The Last Real Place in MemphisActual Meth Camper | Snake Tattoo Face | Down by Sundown | Ghost Mustang & the Magic Skillet | Bar-B-Brawl at the Bar That Never Closes | Perfect Ribs at 3 a.m. | Cougar in Training | Searching for Life on the Mississippi | PRAYING FOR YOU HATERZ

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