The new Beale Street spot, Suga Shack, opened during the very throes of the pandemic and its owner, Larry Springfield, is eyeing more access for patrons as Shelby County continues to shake loose from the clutches of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I opened Suga Shack on May 29th of last year,” Springfield said. “Standing on the outside looking in, May of 2020 might seem like a terrible time to open a new business. … But it was kind of pee or get off the pot, if I can just put it like that.
“The landlords were wondering what I was going to do, the partners were wondering what I was going to do. I figured I would go ahead and just open. It was better for me to bump my head when things were slow.”
Suga Shack is anchored at 392 Beale Street, west of Fourth Street and just outside of the entertainment district’s primary stretch. “We are attracting crowds because of the live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. As the world continues to open up, we plan to implement more access to the venue for our patrons.”
Springfield is maintaining his optimism as health officials are warily monitoring the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Daily new cases in Shelby County continue to decline as officials urge vaccine holdouts to get the shot.
More than a month ago, Shelby County was declared more than 70 percent protected from the virus. As masks and social distancing requirements were lifted, mobility increased, with many in search of – perhaps in need of –night life fun.
According to Tennessee’s health commissioner, Dr. Lisa Piercey, the state trend is following the national trend. Almost all of those who are getting infected and dying from COVID-19 in Tennessee are unvaccinated. Tennessee, she said, is in a “race against time” to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the Delta variant spreads across the state.
Safety protocols implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and the Shelby County Health Department actually helped business, Springfield contends.
“We were just running lean and preserving our resources as best we could,” he said.
“We could only be open certain hours. We were only serving food and open for pick-up and delivery. And because we were open and operating with employees, that made us eligible to receive a grant here and a loan there. We just kept on plowing through until we made it through.”
Free of the restrictions, Suga Shack has begun building a faithful following of patrons who love the food and pack the house on Friday and Saturday nights for the live music.
“Our house band is the Suga Daddies, and I am the lead singer,” said Springfield. “I’ve been a professional singer since 1989 when I got my first paying gig. Suga Shack is a long held dream of mine. I always wanted a venue where I could showcase young, new talent, and give performers a chance to be seen and heard the way I was given a chance.”
“Once the world is open,” Springfield said, “we will host fresh, new artists on stage to compete in a talent show. … It will be the audience’s choice and the winner will get to perform in our live show.
“Either I am the luckiest man alive, or God was with me. I choose to believe the latter.”
Suga Shack serves food Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the “Late Night Menu” is served from 7 p.m. to 12 midnight, during the live music sets.
(For pick up food orders and more information, call Suga Shack at: 901-343-6772.)