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Kids Court in the courtyard.

Highland Village: the more it changes, the more it’s the same

Chef Alex Eaton of Aplos Restaurant.

By JACK WEATHERLY

Masa Liles, general manager of Highland Village, thinks of herself as a curator.

Selecting new pieces and keeping certain “old” pieces has been the signature approach since the shopping center was opened in 1972.

In an era when naysayers are predicting the demise of shopping aggregations, especially enclosed malls, Highland Village closes in on 50 years in business.

The center has its own pace, Liles said during an interview seated at a table in one of the comfy passageways that connect the shops and restaurants and give the Village a bit of old-world ambiance.

Hence, its logo of an old carriage.

Here are the latest:

Masa Liles

» Aplos Restaurant, Greek “fast fine” cuisine with infusions of Lebanese and Italian influences. Alex Eaton, owner and chef of the Manship Wood-Fired Kitchen on State Street, will open the restaurant soon. “The opportunity to be in an iconic retail venue like Highland Village and adjacent to its beautiful, spacious courtyard was just too good to pass up. Our covered patio will be the perfect setting for family dining,” Eaton said in a release.

» Kendra Scott, “the hottest retailer on the planet,” according to Liles. The jewelry shop makes jewelry while you wait, or you make your own or simply choose a Kendra Scott design. It will open in July.

» Lily Rain, a young-woman’s boutique clothing store, the 19th in the chain, will open toward the end of August.

» The Nail Lounge opened recently and offers wine and beer while you get your feet or fingers done.

Liles offered a few previews about what’s to happen in the near future:

» Bravo! Italian Restaurant and Bar will undergo a renovation in the fall.

» The walls of the village will be graced with murals by Mississippi artists.

“By the end of next year, you won’t recognize” the place, she said.

In the retail business, the Village is engaged in what is called “place making,” Masa (pronounced MAY-sah) Liles said.

WS Development of Chestnut Hill, Mass., is the shaper since it bought the center in 2012. Two years ago it gave the exterior a freshening by whitewashing the brick facade and creating the courtyard. It built the Whole Foods store in 2014.

Kendra Scott and Lily Rain will bring to six the number of first, and thus far only, stores in those upscale chains in Mississippi.

“They see something here,” Liles said.

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