Business school dreams have become a reality in Jackson’s Midtown neighborhood, where Millsaps College’s ELSEWorks’ analysts have opened Midtown Depot Beer Garden and Art Park.
On Livingston Street in Midtown, the development, just west of Millsaps College, is a mixture of wide-open space that meets a DIY shipping container aesthetic. A bar, food stall, restrooms, offices and a gallery space all dot the lot, along with tables and chairs, a stage and plenty of room to roam and play games.
In 2013, a student named Russell Morrison brought out his “drawing on a napkin,” a pie in the sky idea for the project.
“It was any boy’s dream in a school setting,” said Morrison, a part of the first class of analysts. “A beer garden? Yeah.”
Morrison credits Dr. David Culpepper, ELSEWorks’ chairman and now Midtown Depot partner, for taking the next steps.
“It wouldn’t have happened without him,” Morrison added.
And, Morrison said, the student analysts who have come in years after he graduated.
“Since 2015, the analysts have been working (on this) and adding value. It’s been fun building relationships with these students and seeing them get excited as well.”
When the project was first conceived, Lucky Town Brewing – since close – was a next-door neighbor.
“We were just south of the Midtown Arts District, so it was the confluence between beer and art,” Morrison recalled.
There were “lots of surveys” over the years and the convincing of neighbors to welcome the project to their backyard.
“We sent a group of residents to take a tour of Loflin Yard, a beer garden in Memphis,” Morrison said. “They came back and loved it. We wanted to make sure what we thought was cool… that they thought it was cool, too.”
Morrison credits the support of the Business Association of Midtown and Midtown Partners for their instrumental assistance in helping Midtown Depot get off the ground.
The gathering place for all – including pets and kids – with food, craft beer and an art element, currently open Friday evenings, 4-8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 8 pm, has room to grow.
“We’ve kicked around a lot of ideas on how to do this best,” Morrison said. “But we’re trying to make sure we’re authentic. We’re not trying to be too polished and just to fit into where we are. It’s been fun.”
WATCH Morrison on My City TV