So, expect to see Elvis. Or a lot of Elvises at the Halloween party. It’s a “Dead Celebrity” party, says singer-guitarist-songwriter Dale Watson, who owns the club with Patrick Trovato. But costumes must be “tasteful,” he says.
The club in the building — originally an African-American-owned dry goods store — dates to 1883.
Hernando’s Hide-A-Way isn’t really hidden away; the club at 3210 Old Hernando Road off Brooks Road is visible from Elvis Presley Blvd.
On Halloween, guests will get a peek at the $400,000 renovation to the club, where Jerry Lee Lewis and other legends performed.
When they enter the club, some guests will say, “I proposed to my wife (here) 50 years ago,” Watson says.
Music will be Ameripolitan, which is Watson’s “rockabilly, honky tonk, and Western swing” band. In addition to his band, the club will feature Amy LaVere, Will Sexton, Jerry Phillips, and some blues. It also will feature local and touring bands.
Watson says he’s the “music” and Trovato, a restaurateur from New York, is the “food.”
The fund-raiser will be for Ameripolitan, which will perform at the Halloween party.
Visitors will feel as if they’re going back in time to the 1950s. “That’s the whole esthetic,” says Watson’s daughter, Dalynn Watson, as she decorates for the party.
An area with booths and some tables will greet people as they enter. An old telephone booth with a door graces the area. A special VIP area is the site of the original stage. It’s smallish, but stages were small back in the day, Watson says.
The gleaming new kitchen is off the dining room. Part of the original green-painted concrete floor still can be seen, but the majority of the floor was re-done and now is red. Old paneling was removed and exposed brick can be seen.
Watson added swinging doors to separate the dining room from the “dance hall” with the big stage, which is where the stage was in the 1980s. Watson recreated the iron railing with music notes in front of the stage.
Tables and chairs surround the 24'x30' stage. The dance hall includes a 25-foot-long bar. A dance floor is in front of the stage. Booths line the walls. Above each booth is a photo of whoever the table is dedicated to. So, guests might be sitting in booths dedicated to Elvis, Carl Perkins, or Johnny Cash.
The dance hall includes a 25'-long bar.
The vintage jukebox in the dance hall is the same kind as the one at the Rendezvous, Watson says. They also have an original cigarette machine.
The “green room,” a room off the main room, is for performers to relax before they go on stage. Watson decorated the room, which includes a chandelier. Jerry Lee used to call the room his office, Watsons says. They uncovered a door, which Lewis entered from the parking lot.
The decor of the club is done in red, green, and brown.
The bathrooms are labeled “John” and “June,” which is what they were called back in the day, Trovato says. And whoever doesn’t know who those names stand for probably needs some music education.
The club has two TVs for viewing what’s happening on stage.
The front of the club was painted white, which was the color back in the 1950s, Watson says. The iron railings in front of the club came from the old Sun Studio Cafe at the Memphis International Airport.
Food items will include Memphis-themed fare, including the “Thank You Very Much” peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich, and the “Bluff City Slaw” burger. They also will serve other burgers, including the Stax burger and the Ameripolitan burger.
And they’ve got fried chicken, including fried-chicken-and-waffle sandwich appropriately named “Funky Chicken.”
Trovato describes the menu items as “American fast casual.” The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner. He began his restaurant career selling hamburgers in a food truck before he opened his restaurant in Long Island.
They’ll also sell Trovato’s sandwiches, including Philly cheese steak and fried catfish Louisiana po’ boy sandwich.
Halloween party-goers can sample Trovato’s cuisine, which will be served buffet style.
Hernando’s Hide-A-Way will be no smoking, but from time to time, they will have cigar events but “only in the back,” Watson says.
Seating also will be available on the deck on the east side of the building. The club also has a second floor, which was where “late night poker games” reputedly were held back in the day. It’s now Watson’s office, as well as a bedroom.
Watson first entered Hernando’s Hide-A-Way in late 1982. “When I first came in the door it was smoky, dark. On stage, I think Linda Gail (Lewis) was in the house at that point. I looked up on stage. Something was lying on the microphone, covered with dust.” It was a pair of glasses with “1982” on them. They were left on there during a 1982 New Year’s Eve party and, apparently, had never been removed.
Watson says this was the club immortalized in Johnny Burnette’s “Rockabilly Boogie.” “He mentions the Hide-A-Way,” he says.
The club’s slogan is “Come Early Stay Late,” which is what Watson wants everybody to do.
Hernando’s Hide-A-Way is a special place for Watson. And he wants it to be for others, too. “We want people to feel they’re going to a piece of Memphis history.”
Doors open at 5 p.m. October 31st for Hernando’s Hide-A-Way Halloween Party. The band will begin at 9 p.m. $10 cover charge.