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Best Steakhouses in Mississippi: SHAPLEY’S

The outdoor lighting of the entrance gives customers a glimpse of the intimate atmosphere within.

The outdoor lighting of the entrance gives customers a glimpse of the intimate atmosphere within.

For a quarter of a century, Shapley’s Restaurant in Ridgeland has been serving up steaks that keeps customers coming back time and again. “The reason for our longevity in the restaurant arena is the quality of the product we serve to choose,” said Scott Koestler, the owner of the restaurant since 1998.

Koestler started working in the restaurant in 1992, and he and his wife, Julie, purchased the restaurant from original owner, Mark Shapley. Steaks are the main attraction at the restaurant. “We are very consistent in what we serve our guests. We don’t shop price. We’ve had the same beef purveyor for 20 years now. It’s worked well for us, and our customers like knowing they can count on being served the same great meal every time they visit.”

One of many wine cabinets found in Shapley’s to make sure its selection is varied and intriguing.

Left: One of the dining area’s semi-private booths, which owner Scott Koestler says provides an intimate dining experience; Top Right: Shapley’s road signage, illustrating the flexible setting; Bottom Right: One of many wine cabinets found in Shapley’s to make sure its selection is varied and intriguing.

Another key to Shapley’s success is the staff. From the “back of the house,” in the kitchen, to the “front of the house,” including the hosts and hostesses, wait staff and bartenders, the staff is seasoned and committed to customer service. “We have several staff members who have been here for 15 to 20 years, or longer,” Koestler said. “We have a guy in the kitchen who has been here since 1988, and we just had a server who has been here for 20 years retire. There are a lot of people on our staff with a lot of tenure.”

The staff remains loyal to the restaurant, according to Koestler, because his intentions as an owner are made very clear. “I let them know up front what I expect, and then give them a lot of freedom to make that happen. They do a great job of presenting the business the way we want it presented. We’re fortunate to have really good people in key positions. That, plus a good product, insures customers will have a positive dining experience when they come to Shapley’s.”

Koestler said that Jackson is a very healthy restaurant town for its size. “We have a large number of really good restaurants here that are well supported by the community. As far as restaurants go, we are not ‘cutting edge.’ You know what you’re going to get when you come here, and it’s consistent year-round. We alter our menu somewhat with the seasons, but for the most part, the menu remains the same all year. And that’s what our customers seem to like. We have a very loyal customer base, with many who come in to eat on a regular basis.”

Manager Jeffrey Shapley uncorking a bottle of wine.  In addition to steaks, Shapley’s is well known for their extensive wine selection, which it provides to suit any palette or food combination

Manager Jeffrey Shapley uncorking a bottle of wine. In addition to steaks, Shapley’s is well known for their extensive wine selection, which it provides to suit any palette or food combination

The restaurant is designed to be comfortable and private. One of the unique aspects of the design are the semi-private booths in the dining room. “When you are in one of the booths, you are pretty much secluded. People like that. It provides a more intimate dining experience.”  There may be a family who has come straight from the soccer field in one booth, while there is someone conducting business in another. “We provide a setting where people are comfortable coming in. This is not an environment that demands that a gentleman comes in wearing a tie. The setting we provide is very flexible.”

In addition to steaks and other menu items, the restaurant is known for its extensive wine list. “We have a real depth of varietals. You can make what you want of your evening with the wine list.”

»» Tidbits: Shapley’s Restaurant, 868 Centre Street, 601-957-3753, Open Monday through Thursday, 5pm to 9:30pm; Friday and Saturday, 5pm to 10pm; website: www.shapleys.ms; Dinner for two, including a shared appetizer and one drink each: $80 to $100.

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