Well-known Mississippi restaurateur and author and 40-year industry veteran Robert St. John will bring his popular Hattiesburg restaurant, Ed’s Burger Joint, to Fondren, complementing a dynamic entertainment project he is spearheading.
St. John, along with his partners, will also reopen the historic Capri Theatre with a state-of-the-art projection system, reclining seats, food service, and a full bar, providing the city of Jackson with its only movie screen. The reimagined Capri will offer first-run and classic movies as well as alternative content, such as live music. Adjacent to the Capri, the group is opening a bowling alley with a restaurant and two bars.
“We are thrilled to bring Ed’s Burger Joint to Jackson,” says St. John. “I have always thought Fondren was the coolest neighborhood in the largest city in the state, and to have the opportunity to bring a movie theatre and bowling alley – in addition to a restaurant and tiki bar – seems like a perfect fit for the casual, yet creative, vibe of Fondren.”
Ed’s Burger Joint is known for its authentic, fresh burgers, decadent shakes, and homemade frozen pops.
The development will include:
• Ed’s Burger Joint, with rooftop seating and a bar overlooking Fondren (the former Butterfly Yoga)
• A refurbishment of the historic Capri, offering a 170-seat luxury theater with a 40-foot screen for movie viewing as well as live entertainment capabilities.
• Highball Lanes, offering a 10-lane bowling alley, boutique games and a full- service restaurant and cocktail bar with cuisine inspired by St. John’s Hattiesburg institution, Crescent City Grill (currently Seabrook Paints)
• The Pearl, an upscale tiki bar featuring classic tiki cocktails and small plates (appetizer heavy, according to St. John), currently Blaylock Fine Art Photography
The former gas station that housed Butterfly Yoga will be completely modified and expanded to accommodate Ed’s Burger Joint. The other businesses will be located in existing buildings in the Fondren strip, which will be rehabilitated to meet the standards for historic renovations.
The project will also include enhanced parking behind the State Street development.
“Fondren is already a thriving destination for shopping and dining, and this development will strengthen its reputation as a gathering spot, with some 30,000 square feet of entertainment and dining options,” said St. John.
With help from the City of Jackson and the Mississippi Development Authority, the project has qualified for the Mississippi Tourism Incentive Program, which is designed to promote tourism and entertainment destinations throughout the State. The developers have also worked extensively with the Mississippi Department of Archives & History to plan the necessary restoration work.
Construction is set to begin in fourth quarter of 2019, with completion in the third quarter of 2020. Wier Boerner Allin is serving as architect, and Copeland & Johns, Inc. will be the general contractor. Developers estimate that the $13 million project will result in 80 full-time jobs and 45 part-time jobs across the four businesses.
“I want to once again thank my friends in the restaurant business who have been here fighting the good fight,” St. John said. “And I know I’m a latecomer coming in on third base there. But I also believe as I know (Sal & Mookie’s) Jeff Good believes that a rising tide raises all ships,” adding,”We are very excited to be headed up this way to be a small part of what you guys have started.”