Have you seen the new construction on the beach and wondered what was going on? Here’s the scoop: Old Town is growing, with the construction of a new, beach-view restaurant, Rags to Riches.
– By Lisa Monti
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Work is underway on a two-story restaurant at the corner of South Beach Boulevard and Court Street in Bay St. Louis, and the owners have an ambitious goal of opening on August 1.
Developers Shane and Amy Bernard and Craig Bordelon named their project Rags to Riches for its dual concept: a barefoot beach sports bar on the first floor, and a sit-down dining area with a wine list on the second floor. Both levels will offer beach breezes and views of the water. Bernard called the view from the upstairs balcony “a really nice selling point.”
Bernard said the August opening date is an ambitious target, “but we can pull it off.” Materials were pre-ordered to help with the expedited time frame.
Bernard and Bordelon are both in the construction business. Shane and Amy own Bernard Construction, which is building the restaurant. Bordelon came up with the Rags to Riches concept based on his previous experience in restaurants. The Bernards and Bordelon have signed on Henry Bauer as their chef/manager. Bauer owned Cypress Catering of New Orleans and has worked in several restaurants in New Orleans. They’re all working together on a menu that will include an assortment of appetizers, fresh salads, and entrees such as a signature cheeseburger, chicken dishes and blackened and fried Gulf seafood.
The restaurant will accommodate a total of 125 with indoor and outdoor seating. Rags to Riches will be open daily. Live music will be offered on game days but not until the games are over. The restaurant is in the Resort District, so parking spaces are not required.
The restaurant concept is new, but the building design is virtually the same as the one proposed by another developer for the busy corner. The original design by Pass Christian architect Leah Watters is reminiscent of Florida Panhandle destinations like Rosemary Beach. With a minor change to the front of the building, the project quickly got approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. Work began almost immediately afterwards.
Bernard said Rags to Riches will be a good fit among the bars and restaurants in downtown. “The more the merrier,” he said. For visitors coming to the Gulf Coast from New Orleans, Mandeville, Hammond, and Lafayette, “we’re the first stop,” said Bernard. “The more options you give people, the more reasons to keep them here before going on to Biloxi or Ocean Springs.”
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