I had to check out the “George Lapides Special” at Mister B’s restaurant after Rabbi Micah Greenstein mentioned it during a memorial for the late sports broadcaster at Temple Israel. Lapides, who was 76, died June 14 after a three-year battle with an incurable lung disease.
Lapides was a colleague of mine at the old Memphis-press Scimitar. The sports department, where Lapides was editor, was next to the features department, where I worked. I remember once being paired with him for a doubles tennis match. I played terribly and we lost. In mock (or maybe it wasn’t mock) anguish, Lapides collapsed on the court and just lay there. That was the only time we played tennis together, which probably was fine with him.
The last time I saw Lapides was at Oak Hall. He carried his portable oxygen tank with the delight of a tart of passion fruit curd topped with fresh fruit.
Before you indulge, you can eat a nice meal of lean protein and healthy greens with a chicken salad, or get your grain on with a quinoa salad.
When I’ve visited recently, the mercury has been a touch too high for a hot soup. So I passed on chicken and andouille, but was happy to order a cup of cold avocado and cucumber soup to go with my sandwich. It’s a go-to summer soup for me, light and fresh but creamy enough from the avocado that it’s a bit lush, a bit indulgent. It’s delicately seasoned with just salt and pepper, as far as I could tell, and excellent with a cold sandwich of pesto, roasted tomato and mozzarella, sort of a caprese salad on bread.
We also tried a brisket Reuben, which was OK same ease he’d wear one of the store’s Ermenegildo Zegna ties. He still was the same George Lapides — interested and interesting.
Lapides and his wife, Barbara, were regulars at the restaurant, said Mister B’s owner Theresa Baker. “Probably 10 years they’d been coming in,” she said. “He was eating our crawfish étouffée and he decided he wanted it over wild rice on a platter. So, he started talking about it on the radio and he said, ‘You’ve got to go to Mister B’s, but order that étouffée this way.’ That would be George.”
Their regular crawfish étouffée is a soup that comes in a cup or a bowl, Baker said. She described it as “very thick soup — crawfish tails in a creamy base with mushrooms, peppers, onions and a blend of special herbs and spices.”
“He didn’t want it in soup form,” said Baker’s husband, Russ Penninger, who works at the restaurant.
They still offer the soup on There are few tables in the dining area near the gift shop. But there are plenty of shady spots outdoors to enjoy lunch while taking in the garden views.
but felt a bit skimpy for $10. All of the sandwiches, in fact, were more like a homemade portions than what you typically find in a restaurant, but the portions were adequate (two of us didn’t finish two sandwiches, shared soup and potato salad). Still, on a sandwich that is generally hearty, I think the beef could’ve used a bit of beefing up.
The best of the lot was the turkey with Swiss the menu, but Baker said, “Everybody started coming in and asking for the étouffée the way George Lapides liked it. Last year, we updated our menus and we put his special on the menu because we had so many people ask for it. People came in and said, ‘Can I get the George Lapides special?’ So, we said, ‘OK. We’re just going to name it that.’”
I love the dish, which is spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. You get a hefty portion, so if you’re ordering something else, you easily can split it.
Lapides, who often visited the restaurant three times a week for lunch and/or dinner, “had a passion for life and things he believed in,” Baker said. “Especially Mister B’s. When he would talk about Mister B’s on the radio we knew whatever he suggested for the day people would come in and order it. We would all listen for whatever he would say. That would be the meal of the day.”
Another one of my memories
cheese, avocado and roasted tomato. It’s a grilled sandwich, obviously served warm and the heat did a little trick on the tomatoes and avocado, fusing a near-guacamole creation that worked great.
A bit of a disappointment to me reflects more on my inability to remember than on the sandwich. Ham, Gruyere and fig sounds divine to this fig fanatic, but of course I
should’ve known that the sandwich would be made with fig preserves, not fresh figs (still a couple of weeks away from local harvest). It was too sweet for me, and I’ve made this mistake more than once: I see “fig” on the menu and think I’ll love the item, but it’s really just the fresh fig that I dig.
The George Lapides Special at Mister B’s restaurant in Germantown.
of the iconic sportscaster dates to Oct. 31, 1983, when the PressScimitar shut its doors for good. Before the paper folded on that date, Lapides made sure everybody on his staff had a job. I’ll never forget that.
Park + Cherry (named for the streets that intersect at the northeast corner of the property) does what it does very well, but it’s limited by space and by plan. It’s not like The Brushmark was or like Fratelli’s Café at Memphis Botanic Garden, but it’s a nice little spot and one worth exploring when you’re in the museum or the general area. Outside of lunch hours, to-go food is available (hummus, prepacked sandwiches and so on), and the restaurant is part of Food Truck Friday, which runs through September at Dixon.
So, maybe they need to add a hyphen to the name of that Mister B’s dish and make it “George Lapides — Special.”
Mr. B’s is at 6655 Poplar in Germantown; 901-751-5262