A legendary blues hall changes hands in Bay St. Louis, but the new owners will carry on the previous owners' dream of creating a community hub.
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
When former owners Jesse and Kerrie Loya bought 100 Men Hall (303 Union Street) in 2006, they saved the derelict building from certain post-Katrina demolition. The couple added on a spacious living area and moved in with their family.
Continuing the rehab, the Loyas reopened the hall as a music and event venue in 2010. The building had come full circle. In the mid-1900s, 100 Men Hall had been a rocking stop for blues performers like BB King, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and James Brown. Under the Loyas’ stewardship, the hall has hosted everything from weddings to Cajun dance parties in the past eight years.
The building’s fascinating history was a major part of the allure for Rachel Dangermond, who is a writer, consultant and experienced community facilitator. After visiting Bay St. Louis several times for solo writing retreats, the New Orleans native began considering relocation to the coast. The Bay seemed an idyllic place for her nine-year-old son to grow up.
And the peaceful setting would provide the perfect backdrop for the writers’ workshop side of her career that she planned to expand. She’d been facilitating the memoir-writing workshops in her home for years, yet wanted to offer them more frequently and in a more formal setting.
A coast friend who knew about Dangermond’s plans sent her information on 100 Men Hall when it came up for sale. The writer filed it away until, after a trying day, she pulled up the link to the hall’s for-sale page. She called immediately for a showing.
“We walked in and said ‘This is it! This is where I can have workshops, facilitate, have pop-ups for artists,’” said the writer recalling her first viewing. “The rest was just details. From the moment I made that decision, people have come out of the woodwork to help make this possible.”
The hall’s listing agent, Holly Lemoine-Ramond, noted that the sale itself was seamless. “We had lots of interest, but this was meant to be. When we all met for the first time, there was an instant connection. While Kerry and Jesse knew they couldn’t choose who bought their place, it was wonderful to have a purchaser carrying on with the same basic concept.”
Real estate agent Matt Stieffel has been friends with Dangermond for two years and represented her in the sale.
“I’m very excited for Rachel and her exciting new chapter resurrecting 100 Men Hall,” Stieffel said. “Bay St. Louis is lucky to have her as a resident and proprietor for such an iconic piece of our history.”
Even though Dangermond and her son are still unpacking, she says she’ll be ready to host a workshop forMississippi Heritage Trust (MHT), August 8 – 10. MHT’s director, Lolly Rash, had originally contacted the Loyas about hosting the event. Dangermond decided to dive right in after discussing the transition with Rash.
Ironically, the workshop focuses on financing and tax credits for historic buildings that are used for businesses. “I’m going to participate too because I need to know these things,” said Dangermond.
Although her business partner, son Tin, may be watching cartoons instead of attending the historic workshop, he’s still excited about learning the ropes of running an event venue at 100 Men Hall.
“We’re going to split the money,” Tin said, during the Shoofly Magazine photo session.
“He’s the hundred-and-first man,” said Dangermond, laughing. “If nothing else [comes out of this venture], he’s going to learn the skills of running a business.”
Between unpacking boxes and getting Tin ready to start school, the writer is still finding a bit of time to appreciate her new community. She mentioned several helpful neighbors and new friends helping to smooth the big transition.
“I’m so thrilled to be in Bay St. Louis,” she said. “The first day I spent in the hall, I took a long walk on the beach. It felt like trumpets were blowing.”
Click below for more information and to register for the free Mississippi Heritage Trust workshop at 100 Men Hall, August 8 -10, 2018. Space is limited, so reserve now!
A trio of savvy entrepreneurs has created a new popsicle craze on the coast: with fresh flavors and creative recipes, there's little wonder
- story by Lisa Monti
A year ago they finally found the Bay St. Louis storefront they’d been looking for when a space became available at 111 Main Street. The new store replaced a spot inside nearby Cuz’s seafood restaurant. The newest location - the fourth - is is now open alongside a gourmet candy maker in Grayton Beach, Fla.
Pop Brothers products also are sold at other outlets including Lazy Magnolia, Margaritaville, Hard Rock and Scarlet Pearl casinos and Gulf Islands Water Park and at catered events and festivals from carts like the one that got it all started.
Shannon said the team is thrilled with the Bay St. Louis store. “It took us over a year to find a spot but we’re so happy to be here,” she said.
And customers, including a good number of tourists, are happy that Pops Brothers is here too.
“We have visitors from everywhere you can imagine. It’s really amazing how many people end up in our store from all over the place,” Shannon said.
The shop has communal bench seating and big windows so customers can watch the flow of traffic on Main Street while they enjoy their selection.
On Second Saturday in June, when the monthly art walk and Frida Fest converged, the Main Street store sold a whooping 400 popsicles, the most daily sales yet for the location.
Pop Brothers makes 50 varieties, all created by Octavia, an experienced chef with big-name credentials from his restaurant days in Chicago. He comes up with the flavors, using his creative culinary skills to combine fresh fruits and herbs and spices.
About half the menu flavors are available all year; the rest depends on what fruit is available and that’s dictated by seasons and weather. “We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Shannon said.
All the ingredients come from within a 2.5-hour radius except for the exotic fruits which come in to New Orleans from South America, Cuba and other points. “My husband is an expert in sourcing and buying and creating flavors,” Shannon said. He’s known in-house as the Pop Master.
So what are customers craving this steamy summer? “The top three are Oreo cheesecake, berries and cream, the mango and strawberry lemonade and the Barq’s Root Beer float. It’s fantastic. It even tastes bubbly,” Shannon said.
To keep up with demand, Pop Brothers makes 2,000 to 3,000 a day by hand. “That’s the key to why they taste so good,” Shannon said. “Once it’s automated you loose something."
The pops come in three categories: fruit, cream and indulgent. For the really indulgent, you can get yours dipped in dark chocolate, white chocolate or both.
Pop Brothers also has created two Pooch Pops that are extremely popular with spoiled dogs and their owners. “We sell tons of them,” Shannon said. One is made with chicken broth, fresh green beans and other good stuff for breath and coat. The other is made with peanut butter, cheese and bacon. My dog lapped his up.
111 Main Street
Bay St. Louis
Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
One of the world's top travel companies, names Bay St. Louis as one of America's 25 Favorite Beach Towns.
- photos by Ellis Anderson
“This is a phenomenal opportunity to showcase everything that Bay St. Louis has to offer, which will in turn benefit the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast as a destination,” said Segarra.
Nikki Moon, owner of Bay Town Inn on Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis, also serves on the Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast board.
"For Fodor’s to list Bay St. Louis amongst so many incredible beach destinations across the US is a real honor," said Moon. "I am thrilled to see this wonderful, resilient Mississippi Gulf Coast town garner such widespread attention.
She continued. "As a community, Bay St. Louis strives to create the perfect coastal atmosphere for visitors and locals alike, and it looks like our efforts are paying off, as we gain momentum in terms of media exposure, accolades and visitation."
Local businesses receiving shout-outs in the article are the Starfish Café, Bay-tique, The French Potager and Gallery 220. The Mardi Gras Museum in the historic depot was also spotlighted.
Here's what Fodor's had to say about Bay St. Louis:
Katrina hit this Gulf town hard in 2005, but it’s come back strong. Old Town, overlooking the marina, bay, and white-sand beach, thrives with buzzy restaurants (Starfish Café) and artsy shops (Bay-Tique, The French Potager, and Gallery 220, representing local artists).
Instead of cars, many people get around town by golf cart, on foot, by bike, or even by kayak. Whatever your mode, keep an eye out for the town’s “Angels in the Bay,” created by chainsaw-wood sculptor Dayle Lewis from live oaks that died in Katrina’s wake.
The free Bay St. Louis Mardi Gras Museum features beautiful Mardi Gras costumes, and provides information on the history of Mardi Gras on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
See the other towns on the Fodor's Travel website.