So the story goes like this. Summers growing up in Memphis were idyllic. Fancy free, young, and living in the South, most every night, once we were given those precious keys to a car come 16, me and my friends hit the town. We’d pile in someone’s newly acquired vehicle for a drive, or sometimes, as in this occassion, to fill up on dry-rubbed barbecue ribs, most usually at Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous. In this particular instance, we were mid-rib, when our good friend Joey convinced us that Jimmy Carter was sitting right behind us. Sure enough, a handsome older gentleman, surrounded by a rather large table of entourage, was sitting directly behind us, enjoying a plate full of those famous dry ribs.
My constant partner in crime, Ashley, and I decided that we weren’t chicken to just scoot our little selves over to the next table and ask him if he was, indeed, President Carter, and would he please sign our placemat menu?
Now mind you, I’m young enough where I didn’t happen to be alive during his presidency. Obviously, I’m familiar with President Carter, but I certainly don’t have his face memorized. So, I go through weeks, telling everyone who will listen to my teenage chatter about how I met Jimmy Carter, and thought quickly enough to grab a Rendezvous menu for him to sign.
Finally, the boys admitted to us that they motioned to him earlier to play along, and when we approached him for an autograph, he simply obliged, but was in no way anyone famous, let alone our former president. What a mean trick!
Ashley and I are still convinced it was President Carter. No amount of sending links back and forth of authentic signatures from internet auction sites will convince us that a kindly older gentleman, distinctly and deliberately would trick two innocent young trusting girls. We’ll believe our friends were simply trying to take our fun away! It makes sense that he should be there! The food is delicious. President Carter hails from the South, and why shouldn’t he visit the Rendezvous, like every good Southerner should at some time in his life.
Nevertheless, I’ll always treasure memories from the Rendezvous. Whether or not you run into a celebrity, the food is worth the trip.
Mr. Vergos, Rendezvous’ namesake and know as “Mr. Downtown” recently passed away in March of this year. While his presence will certainly be missed, his legacy lives on in the smokey taste of those indescribably moist “dry-rub” ribs
Come prepared to sit upstairs and snack on a cheese and pickle plate though, because you’ll probably wait a few minutes (and by a few minutes, I mean at least an hour — I promise you won’t mind though. You’ll be having so much fun, the food is worth it, and just remember this… I once waited 3 hours, though that is unusual, still, you know it’s that good.)
If you live in or around the area, it’s certainly worth a visit. Don’t be fooled by the setting — you’ll have to venture into a completely non-descript alley for the delicious treats, but you’ll know you’ve found the right place, cause folks will most likely be spilled out into the alley with ya. Make a trip if you can, but if not, you can always order their selections via their Hogs Fly website, delivered via FedEx any weekday for free!
And send some my way, okay?