Category Archives: Hotel & Hospitality

Lee High Remembered

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Students and instructors alike have fond memories of their time at Lee High in Columbus. The site is currently undergoing renovations in order to turn it into a combination mall/apartment complex with 23 residential units available.

Lee alumna Jessica Howard Stephens visits the old Lee building
with former Lee High School principal J.V. Carr — Dispatch file photo

“I remember so clearly sitting in the halls and drawing [the rows of lockers].” Lee alumna Carol Littlejohn, class of 1968, said. “We learned how to draw them so the lines made it look like they were getting smaller.”

“We’re hoping to be complete by Sept. 1,” Developer Scott Berry, class of 1971, said. “We want to start leasing then, and I’m really hoping for it. I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”

First built in 1953, the school was in operation until 2011, when the school district opened Columbus Middle School on the other side of town. Berry bought the property in 2018 and got to work on the renovations right away.

In the mall section, Berry’s plans include a 200-seat restaurant and a 1000-seat auditorium. The main twenty former classrooms are being converted into 1BR/1BA and 2BR/2BA apartments, both meant for long-term rentals. The three remaining spaces, which are larger, are being set up as short-term rentals, aimed primarily at complimenting the event space.

“If people are coming in for a weekend wedding, say, and they want to have the rehearsal and the wedding, we want them to say, ‘oh, can we have those apartments too?'” Berry said. “They’re designed to be complimentary.”

Berry says that he wanted to maintain as much of the original school structure as possible, so that tenants would always remember where the building came from. He has made sure to preserve much of the old building, including many lockers and classroom doors.

“Who knows,” Littlejohn added. “Maybe they’ll even want to learn the history of Lee High.”

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News from the World of Restaurants in the GTR

GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Starkville’s new hand-made chicken salad joint, Chicken Salad Chick, 602 Hwy 12 E., will open for business this coming Tuesday. The first person through the door that day (at 10:30 AM) wins free “quick chick” salads every week for a year, and the next 99 guests will win monthly free salads.


Eric Hallberg owner of the Chicken Salad Chick, also owns and runs The Breakfast Club at 105 Eckford Dr. As his other venue, Cappe’s in the Park, has closed, he is combing the menus from both places for his Eckford Dr. location.

A new restaurant, The Library, 101 N. Jackson St., opened inside the Hotel Chester not long ago. Hotel Chester owner, David Mollendor, says that The Library will offer spirits, steak, seafood, salads and appetizers: “The emphasis is on wine and distilled spirits at The Library,” Mollendor said. “Our idea is we do a few things and we do those things exceptionally well.”

Over in West Point: Healthy Habits WP has opened its doors at 586 Commerce St. quite recently. Employee Heather Ross explained that “It’s an opportunity for people to get out of their houses,” Ross said. “Everyone that has come in has been really excited. This is something West Point really needed.”

In Columbus food news, we are sorry to report that Backyard Burger in front of WalMart has once again closed its doors, having been open on its second attempt since January 2018.

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Business After Hours at the GTR Airport – Jan 17, 2019 (image gallery)

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce

This month’s Business After Hours was a rousing success! Here are some photos of the event, courtesy of the CoC:

Photo gallery above. Original post and more photos can be found here.

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Columbus and Starkville Have Some New and Returning Businesses to Support

Courtesy of the Dispatch


Columbus Inn & Suites across from the Magnolia Bowl is up for sale to the right entrepreneur. The building, located at 506 Hwy 45 N, has 90 rooms, a fully-equipped restaurant, kitchen, pool and meeting areas. The asking price is $1.45 million.

Window World recently opened its doors at 134 Lincoln Road, next to Walmart, earlier this month. It is part of a 200-store chain that services both interior and exterior window needs of all kinds. They are open Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-5p.m and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Waldrop and Co. Real Estate has now moved in to the old Cross Golf Cart building at 5736 Hwy. 45 N.

Grassroots Natural Candle Company has come back, having moved across the street to 127 Fifth St. N. Offering a wide variety of fragrance products (not just great candles!), they are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m.


Twigs Nursery and Landscaping at 7653 Oktoc Road opened for business last week. MSU graduates Kody and Kandiace Brown offer a variety of plants, flowers, arrangements, seeds, pots, garden tools, Mississippi-made items, pottery and of course landscaping. It’s open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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New Starkville Parks and Rec Head Sees Great Things in its Future

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Logan talks about his department to the Starkville Rotary Club – Logan talked about parks and recreation’s impact on Starkville – Photo by Alex Holloway, Dispatch Staff

Starkville Parks and Recreation recently appointed a new Director, Gerry Logan, who spoke with the Starkville Rotarians recently. He spoke about upcoming tournaments and events both past and future, all of which help to contribute to Starkville’s bottom line by way of tourist (and local!) dollars filling the coffers at hotels and local shops.

“Parks and Rec is an economic impact driver,” Logan said. “We host tournaments. We host events. We contribute to the economic development of the community. We deal with quality of life issues. We have sidewalks and areas for people to walk. We have a free walking track at the Travis Outlaw gym . . . It’s about contributing to the … soul, if you will, of the community.”

SP&R runs seven local parks, accounting for about two hundred acres of territory and facilities. With a $400K+ budget increase for 2019, Logan plans to put the additional funding to good use, with new projects on the horizon: “What the comprehensive plan said we needed is certainly some additional field space,” Logan said. “That’s proven. We are certainly short on field space, particularly diamond field space — baseball and softball fields. It also noted we have a lack of multi-use trail. Those are things we need and it’s certainly our goal to get there.

“As part of this new process, with any new facilities that come on we’re also going to look at renovating the Sportsplex,” he added. “A second entrance has certainly been talked about. It’s challenging because of the creek and overall layout of the land, but with any potential discussion of new facilities and a new park, the second part of that is renovating the Sportsplex to make it as efficient as it can be — parking, access roads, things like that.”

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Wedding and Catering Venue to Open in The Depot Early Next Year

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Matt and Kelly Pittman, with their daughter, Harper, go over plans for renovations at The Depot with Realtor Royce Hudspeth and contractor Gene Reid on Tuesday – Photo credit – Slim Smith, Dispatch Staff

Kelly and Matt Pittman will be opening a new events & catering venue which will be named after its historical location: “The Depot.” The business, to be located at the corner of Main and 13th St South, is planned to open in early 2019: “The name fits it really well and that’s what Columbus has been calling it,” Kelly Pittman said. “We just thought it was a good fit.”  The Pittmans are experienced wedding caterers and planners, having won couples Choice Awards (from Wedding Wire) for the past four years in a row.

“We love the town of Columbus,” Kelly added. “It is beautiful. When we drove down Main Street with the shops and buildings, we were just in awe.”

“[I and building owner Guynup have] got a reason for everyone to be excited,” Realtor Royce Hudspeth said. “Columbus needs to be excited about this. They do a first class job. For a young couple, it’s just amazing the practices (they’ve) built up, and (Kelly is) bringing that to the Golden Triangle.”

Pittman plans to have up to ten employees to help run the venue. It will have two large rooms, a reception and ceremony area, and a bridal room. A kitchen will also be built between those two rooms. The space will be available for rental for a wide variety of events.

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Starkville Coffehouse to Add Midtown Location

Starkville Coffehouse to Add Midtown Location

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News

Starkville’s Midtown is a mixed-use development that will feature Orangetheory Fitness, 66 apartments and other businesses to be announced at a later date. (courtesy photo)

Strange Brew Coffeehouse owner Katelyn Reed recently announced the nascent opening of their second Starkville location; their intent is to open before September 1st. Their existing store, which has a drive-thru, is “busting at the seams,” Reed said. “So we are really excited to have some more space, and to now be walking distance from campus.” The new location will be in the Midtown development on University Drive, and is meant to be be “more of a ‘come sit a while’ feel,” Reed went on to say. Both locations will share the exiting menu, as well as new products that will soon be on offer.

A second Instagram and Twitter account was made for the Midtown location, and it can be found at @SBCoho for more updates

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Sunsations of Starkville Remodeling, Becoming Golden Glow

Sunsations of Starkville Remodeling, Becoming Golden Glow

STARKVILLE – From a PRESS RELEASE Courtesy of Golden Glow Salon

Starkville’s Sunsations tanning salon will be undergoing extensive renovations during the next month as they transition to becoming Golden Glow Tanning Salon! The store wil be changing to better match their Columbus location, in order to better serve all of their existing customers. Once the changeover is complete, customers will be able to utilize service packages purchased at either store in both stores.

You can find them on FaceBook here.

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New Steakhouse Restaurant to Open in Starkville

New Steakhouse Restaurant to Open in Starkville

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News

1883 Smokehouse, a new family-friendly barbecue eatery, is set to open in the old Penn’s Fish House location on Avenue of the Patriots. (Photo by Mary Rumore, SDN)

Mark Welch, owner of Sturgis Smokehouse,has stated that he will be opening the 1883 Smokehouse in Starkville in just a few weeks. The family-friendly venue will be at the former location of Penn’s Fish House, at Hwy 12 and Avenue of the Patriots. He added that the menu will be similar, but with some changes: “It’s basically the same, but it’s a casual steakhouse at night, and it’s going to have the largest salad bar in Starkville,” Welch said. “It’s going to be six feet long. We’re really hitting on pork chops, ribeye steak sandwiches, filets and catfish at night.” They will also serve blue plate lunches.

Welch said that the name is a tribute to Sturgis’ itself: “The 1883 is the homage to Sturgis,” Welch said “That’s the year Sturgis was developed. So we’re basically tying it back into Sturgis with The 1883 where we got started.”

The Sturgis location will remain open, Welch said. “We wanted to do the one in Sturgis to test all the menu items out, but basically we want to open up a bigger location.”

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Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Robert Smith and Harry Sanders – Courtesy photo

The fate of the joint Lowndes/Columbus 2% restaurant tax is currently being hotly debated, as it is due to expire at the end of June. It normally brings in about $2 million per year in tax revenue from restaurants that make over $325,000 per year in prepared food and beverage sales. One of the primary issues that caused the tax’s renewal to die in committee a few weeks ago was the debate over whether the $325K floor should be in there at all; without it, all restaurants would be assessed the tax; another is whether the city of Columbus should simply go ahead and assess its own version of the tax, should the State fail to reinstate it sometime soon. The tax revenue goes primarily to fund tourism, parks and economic development.

“My thing is that if our legislators aren’t going to take out the ($325,000) floor, we’d be crazy to send anything down there that says otherwise,” Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said. “Two-million dollars is at stake here. That’s what we have to remember. So if the only way to get this tax back in place is to have the floor, that’s what we would have to do. If that means the county isn’t a part of it, that’s their decision.”

Should the city move forward with its own tax, it may mean changing how the existing Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau’s is funded; the new tax, in this case, would provide said funding in lieu of the old one. Mayor Smith remarked that “[W]ith [CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter’s] contacts and experience, we’d be foolish not to use that. . . We’d have to do something about the board because if it were to be city only, we’d need a board with [only] city people on it. But as far as running tourism, I still think the CVB is the best way to do it.”

The county, in contrast, wants to remove the “floor” on the tax, but keep it the way it was – a joint county/city tax. Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said, “The county has as much interest in tourism as anybody. . . We want to keep it exactly as it is, with the tax in place like it’s always been. … The only difference is taking away the floor because having that floor doesn’t make any sense. That’s been our position all along and I don’t see any reason why it would change.”

As it stands, if the tax is allowed to die later this year, any reinstatements or changes will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes next January; this would mean losing out on a year or more of tax revenue. While it is theoretically possible to get a short-term, one-year version of the tax added to an upcoming State special session, it seems that it is unlikely that a local tax would be able to get onto the agenda at such a meeting.

Please click here for the full article.

Please click here for a Dispatch editorial on this topic.

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