Jackson businessmen plan pub for Fondren
by Clay Chandler
Published: May 31,2013
Later this summer, Fondren’s newest locally owned business will open, and it will be something the neighborhood does not already have.
Marty Clapton and his partners are opening a pub next to Cups coffee shop.
Plans for Fondren Public, which Clapton hopes will serve as a gathering place for locals, were first formulated more than two years ago, shortly after he moved to Jackson from Ocean Springs and opened his commercial realty office adjacent to the space that will house the bar.
“The more I thought about it, and knowing how much people enjoy being outside, the patio space there being second to none, it made a lot of sense,” he said.
More than $200,000 worth of renovations started in February, shortly after Clapton and his partners had control of the property. The space has been remade using a lot of repurposed materials. The actual bar is built out of old Delta and Meridian pine. Walls that aren’t exposed brick are covered in barn wood that came from a hunting camp.
The pub’s shuffleboard table was custom-built using some of the same materials. A lot of the pub’s features are ideas culled from investors’ trips to bars in Austin, Texas, Charleston, Boston and Portland, Ore. “We’ve tried to take a little out of all those places,” Clapton said. “With all the wood inside, it makes me think of some of the bars and taverns in Boston that I used to work in.”
The bar’s guts have been replaced, including new plumbing lines and concrete. “We demoed it down to the studs,” Clapton said. The main bar area will have a couple TVs.
The spacious outdoor area, portions of which will be covered, will feature a Bocce ball court and pews reclaimed from a Jackson church.
Inside, 25 copper-backed beer taps are already installed, and will be craft-beer heavy when they begin to pour. Clapton said Fondren Public will carry beers made in the Southeastern U.S., including from new Mississippi breweries Lucky Town Brewing Co. and Crooked Letter Brewing Co.
Clapton said the pub’s name was one of two finalists – the other being Local Tap – that he and his partners considered. “We had a pretty intense discussion about the name,” he said. “My wife came up with Fondren Public. We all considered something local. We thought it was key to have Fondren in the name to establish our location and public was just a play on the old English pub word. There was a lot of public house bars around the country that we looked at. The more we surveyed around with our friends, Fondren Public seemed to be the favorite.”
Fondren Public’s target audience will be the young professionals who have flooded the Fondren neighborhood the last decade or so, Clapton said. “They can come here and have that happy hour drink or make this their outdoor weekend spot. Everyone certainly enjoys Hal and Mal’s and Fenian’s, but this is a different part of town and I think Fondren needed this.” The bar’s target date for opening is in late June or early July.
Rick Cleveland, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, lives in Fondren and thinks one of the few things the area lacks is a spot that serves as a resident-driven watering hole and nothing else.
“When I moved to Jackson in 1979 and lived in Fondren, there was the Recovery Room, where Lenny’s (sub shop) is now,” Cleveland said. “It was just a neighborhood gathering place kind of like Cheers. You could go in and people knew each other. Even better, you could walk home. It was great. Fondren has been crying out for another place like that.”
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