By Thomas Sellers Jr.
More than ever, community-based newspapers are needed.
With the boom of social media, we have hundreds of amateur journalists with a self-driven agenda reporting on information that affects their neighbors. Where papers like The Bartlett Express, The Collierville Herald-Independent, The Shelby Sun Times and The Millington Star come in is refereeing all parties.
For several years, trusted journalists and established news sources were the watchdogs over the government, public servants, schools, businesses and community leaders. Now we’ve added everyday Joes and Josephines.
But it’s the hardworking people in our coverage areas who make our job amazing and who motivate us. They want to see their hometowns covered in a responsible way, shining a light on important issues, celebrating achievement and making their place of residency the headline
Being affiliated with these newspapers for more than 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing many, visiting various venues and driving around these amazing communities. For the next month The Best Sellers’ List is going to highlight the top 10 things about the Bartlett area, the Collierville area, the Germantown area and wrap up with the Millington area.
Let’s kick off this series with B-Town, or as some call it B-Lett. Bartlett is a suburb of Memphis with a population of nearly 60,000. With beautiful homes showcasing the best of middle-class and upper-middle-class life, Bartlett is a great place to live in Shelby County.
In addition to the gorgeous homes, Bartlett had great parks, convenient amenities and above-average schools. It is a great place to raise a family. So let’s jump into my top 10 things about Bartlett.
10. Bluff City Escape Rooms
Located at 6759 Stage Road, one of the best places to get lost and then found in the area is Bluff City Escape Rooms. The five rooms have claimed more failures than success stories. So are you ready for the challenge of The Theater, The Ship Dungeon, Old Man Jones’ Workshop, Down the Rabbit Hole or Black Magic on Beale?
Red Dirt Hill Entertainment, founded four years ago by siblings Jannie Cockrell and Michael Hart, has set up a great treat for birthdays, work functions and just for friends hanging out.
Located at 3663 Appling Road is the Bartlett Performing Arts & Conference Center. The organization with the lengthy name brings in the big names over the years.
For example, coming Oct. 5 is Marc Cohn of “Walking in Memphis” fame. BPACC packs in Grammy winners and award-winning plays. Starting in September, the list of upcoming events is a menu that would please all comers until June.
BPACC operates under the auspices of the City of Bartlett. The multi-purpose facility can take on concerts, plays, parties, seminars and much more.
8. Stanky Creek Mountain Bikes Trails
Located at 5760 Yale Road is a hidden gem called Stanky Creek Mountain Bikes Trails. When you’re cruising on Yale and before you approach Bartlett Boulevard, you will go smoothly right past the park. Hidden behind large trees, the challenging trail is a great way to get exercise and bond with friends.
The trail is a 9.2-mile loop with decent elevations. The stretch is broken up into Blue, Yellow and White trails. Inside the White Trail is the one-mile long Outhouse Trail. It has earned that name for a reason.
7. Canvas Therapy
Most of my female friends speak highly of Canvas Therapy located at 2965 N. Germantown Parkway Suite 106. The slogan says it all, “Paint … Sip … Relax.”
Canvas Therapy has become the birthday destination for many women. It’s an ideal date spot for couples of all levels. And it’s the go-to for a girls’ night out. Go online to make your reservations for an evening of painting a masterpiece, tasting a beverage and enjoying a relaxing atmosphere.
6. Grand Pacific
The best buffet in the Mid-South is located at 6196 Stage Road. It just recently moved from the previous 6105 Stage location, and I realized I would follow Grand Pacific anywhere across the United States.
I’ve traveled with my family and church to eat at buffets in Mississippi, rural West Tennessee, Nashville and a certain place in Missouri. Why go that far when the Grand Pacific is in our backyard? If I lived in Sikeston, Mo., I would make the two-hour trip at least four times a year to get Grand Pacific.
I have a four-plate method for each visit. I start with sushi and all the treats that come with it. Then I get a main course of my favorites like frog legs, Asian food and grilled corn on the cob.
Next up is some cold food, and I finish up with dessert. Grand Pacific is an amazing buffet, featuring American, Chinese and Japanese classics. Beautiful atmosphere adds to the visit.
It’s like a dream come true for me to have lo mein, oysters, lime Jell-O, fried rice and tender steak all under one roof.
5. Freeman Park
The official location of this jewel is 2629 Bartlett Blvd. W.J. Freeman Park is home of the Bartlett Panthers and Lady Panthers in baseball and softball respectively. There is a nearly one-mile walking/running trail. Plenty of beautiful grassy fields to fly a kite, play flag football and chip a few golf balls.
Nearby is a shaded playground area safely tucked away from motorists. Then on Saturdays the Bartlett Station Farmers Market is the showcase during the summer. Freeman Park is a great place to get in shape and challenge yourself physically. And it is also the ideal location to bring the family and enjoy an evening in Tree City
4. Panther Pride
My introduction to Bartlett was about 20 years ago with the Panthers. Now when I see the block “B” on cars, shirts, hats or buildings, I know that is Panther Pride.
The athletic tradition at Bartlett High School is reached with State championships in team sports like basketball and baseball for the past 20 years.
The academics are some of the best in the Memphis areas. Now the school is expanding and getting a modernized update.
So see Panther pride at its best and travel to Murfreesboro with the red, white and blue. Parents, boosters and alumni are rooting for the children with a deep passion. Opposing fans might categorized the Panther Pack as annoying. But I like to think Bartlett fans just have a nonstop motor when cheering on the Panthers.
When I think of Panther Pride, two people come to mind Phil Clark and Lynn Whitfield.
The best of the best coaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of covering, they produced wins, tradition and student/athletes who came back home.
Whitfield guided a Lady Panther Basketball team to the 2008 State Tournament with Jasmine James and a bunch of role players. She tapped the best out of those girls and put a scare into the eventual champions.
Meanwhile Clark was busy that same year trying to repeat as State baseball champions after his Panthers captured the 2007 title. He is still a face around the school, motivating this generation of Panthers.
3. Bartlett Festival
Let’s head back to Freeman Park in late September for a wonderful tradition in Bartlett. The 2019 Bartlett Festival, MBN Patio BBQ Contest & Car Show is set for Sept. 27-28. This perfect way to say goodbye to the summer and hello to the fall in Tree City.
The family fun starts Friday night with the midway carnival, featuring vendors and live music.
Wake up early Saturday for the annual 5K race with local music, arts and crafts, a car show, children’s activities and the Memphis Barbecue Network-sanctioned BBQ cooking contest also on the agenda.
Great food, music and entertainment is a given at the Bartlett Festival.
2. Andy B’s Bartlett
Located at 6276 Stage Road is the place I attended for 30 years. Recently remodeled and renamed Andy B’s Bartlett, those bowling lanes, concession area and game room were the place of countless memories for me.
The rebranding into Andy B’s gives it a modern feel, more options and cosmetic atmosphere. My church goes to Andy B’s as least one a year, and we try to get into the BIP room. We like to bowl like celebrities like Drake.
Whether you’re in a bowling league or need the bumpers, the lanes are outstanding. You will improve your game while wearing the funny looking shoes.
But if bowling isn’t your cup of tea, head over the gaming area. I can shoot the basketball or beat somebody in Connect Four played on a large wall.
Andy B’s brings the kid out of this nearly 38-year-old man. But as soon as I pull into the parking lot, I go back to being an 8-year-old traveling with his family on a Monday night. As I watched football, my dad and his friends bowled the night away.
The city of Bartlett has a great location. It is close enough to my old stomping grounds of Raleigh and a 15-minute drive to my parents’ home in Frayser.
Bartlett connects with Cordova, and head down Highway 64 long enough and you’re in Fayette County.
Germantown Parkway is a test of endurance but it has so many great shopping options.
Meanwhile Stage Road is a slower-pace version of Germantown Parkway. Head to Bartlett to catch a movie, buy a new car or hit up the Wolfchase.
If you’re in a hurry, just slip onto Summer Avenue/Highway 70 and cut through one of the beautiful neighborhoods to get back onto one of the business highways.
Bartlett is a one stop shop for visitors. And leaving nearby and working in the community, Bartlett is a great place to live.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.