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VOL. 128 | NO. 182 | Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Memphis Landmarks Garner National Media Praise

By Andy Meek

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The Memphis brand is having a moment.

“It was a big leap of faith,” said Kat Gordon about starting Muddy’s Bake Shop in 2008. The (now) highly successful business bakes cupcakes, cookies and all kinds of sweets, many of which are given whimsical names.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

In just the past week alone, national media attention has showcased a handful of local businesses and landmarks, with outlets talking up everything from Beale Street and the National Civil Rights Museum to Graceland, the Memphis Grizzlies and Muddy’s Bake Shop.

Word came this week from ESPN The Magazine via a tweet, for example, that the Grizzlies will be on the cover of the edition that comes out Friday, Sept. 20. That issue’s cover will proclaim the Grizzlies “the best franchise in sports.”

“The @MemGrizz are the best, Sacramento Kings are the worst & Cam Newton is on a mission. #Franchiseissue out Friday,” the magazine tweeted.

That will come, coincidentally, about a week after John Pugliese, the Grizzlies’ vice president of marketing, broadcast and communications, previewed the team’s 2013-2014 marketing campaign at the Memphis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America meeting. That campaign is featuring the tagline “Greater Memphis.”

Meanwhile, Beale Street is in the running to be chosen as the winner of a contest to find the “Iconic American Street,” for which the choice is being made by 10Best and USA Today readers. Beale is one of the finalists and is up against landmarks like Broadway and Madison Avenue.

10Best describes itself as providing travel content about attractions, things to do and restaurants for destinations in the U.S. and abroad.

Speaking of USA Today and 10Best, their readers’ choice poll just named Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum as among the “Best Iconic American Attractions.” Graceland grabbed the top spot, and the Civil Rights Museum came in at third place.

Squeezed in between the two of them was Mount Rushmore, and both Memphis spots also beat out iconic U.S. landmarks like the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alamo.

Separate from that attention, Memphis businesses have not been immune from the limelight. Travel and Leisure magazine has named Muddy’s Bake Shop “one of America’s Best Bakeries.”

Writing about the East Memphis treat shop, the magazine gave a nod to owner Kat Gordon’s “healthy sense of humor,” noting the pastry case that’s filled with whimsically named items.

“Yet the banana pudding, molasses gingerbread cookies and blueberry pie confirm that this bakery means business,” the magazine notes about Muddy’s.

Continuing the spotlight on Memphis as a whole, journalist Kerri Allen recently visited the city and wrote about the experience for The Huffington Post.

“The Memphis I returned to was not the one I’d last seen in 2003,” she wrote. “It got hipper. … My recollection of Memphis was one of a town heavy with Southern air and the relics of racial strife. Of course the blues was born here. This ain’t the place for peppy pop songs.”

She concludes her piece with: “Memphis is one of America’s most historic and fascinating cities: rife with history, rich with flavor, and unafraid of passion in all of its many forms.”

Collectively, all that attention being paid to the city speaks to something Holly Whitfield noted recently on the I Love Memphis blog – Whitfield being the imminent successor to I Love Memphis blogger Kerry Crawford, who’s stepping aside at the end of this month. Whitfield also alluded to it in an interview with The Daily News, pointing toward what she loves about her new job and her city.

The way she put it on the I Love Memphis blog – “it’s no longer revolutionary to declare ‘I love Memphis’ in public.”

“I grew up in a smaller city, so I’ll always be thankful for things like the diverse crowds that show up at Overton Park on a pretty day, the option to eat at independently owned restaurants (and) the fact that all the neighborhoods and buildings don’t look the same here,” she told The Daily News.

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