By BECKY GILLETTE
Local 463 Urban Kitchen, which has been located 121 Colony Crossing Way, Madison, for seven years, is on the move. The restaurant whose owners are firm believers in supporting local farmers and vendors, is still going to be “local,” moving a mile and a half to the Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland where they will take over space previously occupied by Mint The Restaurant.
“We actually looked at the Renaissance before Renaissance was even built,” said Derek Emerson, who owns Local 463 Urban Kitchen with his wife, Jennifer. “It just wasn’t the right time for us. We were relatively new. The opportunity came up seven years ago to take over the old Atlantica Restaurant location at where Local 463 is now.”
They are planning to move by early December in order to take advantage of the holiday shopping season.
“My family loves Renaissance,” Emerson said. “A lot of my family shops there. The new location has foot traffic, whereas the space we have now has no foot traffic. I think it will also be a benefit to be around other restaurants like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Seafood R’evolution. That makes it a dining location.”
The Emersons also own Walker’s Drive-In and the CAET wine bar, both located in the Fondren arts district in Jackson. Emerson likens the Renaissance at Colony Park to the Fondren arts district as both have lots of restaurants, interesting retail outlets and good energy.
“It really helps bring people to the area when you have a lot of different things going on,” said Emerson, who has been in the restaurant business for 25 years. “The success in dining in Mississippi has come a long way. For the size of our city and state, we have a lot of great restaurants. And we are just getting better and better.”
In addition to the synergy of being located with other restaurants and retail businesses, Emerson said they were also attracted to Renaissance by having more space at the new location.
“We needed a few more square feet, and now will have room for private dining for 16 to 90 people,” Emerson said. “We have kind of outgrown the space we were in. For us, it is a bit more centrally located between Madison and Jackson. It makes it a little more available for more people, I hope.”
They plan to keep the same name and staff. The menu will be expanded some, but still very similar to the offerings that have been popular for years.
“We get fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico six days a week,” Emerson said. “I’m a firm believer in simple food using the best ingredients we possibly can. The executive chef I have working there with me, Robert Rushton, has the same philosophy. He is a crucial part of our success. His wife, Lauren Rushton, is the general manager. We couldn’t do any of the stuff we do at all the restaurants that we have without the loyalty of the staff we have. We appreciate the hard work they put in.”
Emerson’s management philosophy is to never ask anyone to do something he wouldn’t do.
“I’ve been scrubbing floors in kitchens for 25 years,” he said. “It is just a part of being on the team.”
Emerson said they will also continue going out of their way to let people “eat local,” by supporting local farmers and vendors. Emerson said they source as much of their food as possible from within the state.
“Ninety-five percent of our seafood comes from the Gulf,” Emerson said. “We only use Gulf shrimp. We use 100 percent jumbo lump crabmeat in dishes like our crab cakes, which are the best in the state. We never use imitation crabmeat. I’d rather charge a little more and give a better product. Customers appreciate that.”
Emerson said they like to aim for Southern fare with a twist. It is like Sunday dinner with the family with all the fresh vegetables your mother or grandmother would cook.
“We are just kind of turning up the volume a little and putting our twist on traditional meals,” he said.
Emerson said the City of Ridgeland has been very helpful in helping them obtain the necessary permits.
“We have been lucky with that and with the support from the community,” Emerson said. “Without that, nothing else would matter.”
In addition to their chef’s specialties, they also support local artists whose works adorn the walls of the dining room at the present location. Plans are for local art at the new location, as well.
Local 463 Urban Kitchen is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and for dinner from 5:30 p.m. until Monday through Saturday. It plans to add Saturday lunch.
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