Beale Street is a great place for 2 reason: Live Blues music and drinking. Keep in mind it really only is one long block of action so nowhere near the size of Bourbon Street. You cannot focus an entire weekend around Beale Street but it is a great starting point and ending point depending where you're staying. Silky O'Sullivans was great. Coyote Ugly sucked. Wet Willies was perfect for a drink on the go.
It is like any town where if you act like a A-Hole it will end poorly for you. The panhandlers weren't that bad and easy enough to flick away. I traveled to Memphis with 16 preppy white guys and at no point did we come close to having an incident, we were always safe. There is also a solid police presence.
Dyer's Burgers was a let down so not worth the trip. I never made it to Gus Fried Chicken (somewhere nearby) but my friends all raved about it.
Bottom Line- It is worth a visit. Wait until after 3pm so the street can liven up a bit. If you go at noon it will look like a ghost town.