The business and bustle of downtown Greenville is making its return with some of the city’s favorite restaurants and pubs reopening and new ones coming to life.
Washington County Economic Alliance executive director Will Coppage talked about how significant and fortunate it is for businesses to be able to thrive once again during such a trying time.
“In a period of time when there appears to be so much troublesome news going around and it’s burying the positive news that we have on our community, it is a blessing that we’re seeing new retailers and restaurants open and actually thrive in this time,” Coppage said. “It actually shows that we are stronger together.”
Just Thursday, May 28, Coppage, along with Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons and other city officials, celebrated with owners of Café Dat Taste of New Orleans Everett and Kiara Chinn in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the restaurant.
Café Dat Taste of New Orleans has been around for some time now, serving and catering New Orleans inspired dishes such as Cajun-seasoned shrimp, crab legs and other savory bites.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was for the opening of the restaurant at its new location, 152 N. Hinds St., Greenville.
Everett Chinn, public relations specialist for the Greenville Public School District, said he and wife, Kiara, had been working on the new location for roughly three years.
On being able to see the fruits of their labor manifest at such an unpredictable time he said, “It’s truly a blessing to be able to open up and start a small business in the heart of downtown Greenville. My family and I, we’re very passionate about wanting to bring something new, something different and our own flair to Greenville.”
Wife Kiara added, “This is something we both had a desire to do and it just worked out. When we were first engaged and getting married,” which she referred to as “the good ole’ days,” “we used to talk about wanting to be able to build generational wealth because we literally came from nothing.”
She described owning the business along with her husband as seeming “surreal” and found it hard to put into words the feeling she has when she thinks about it.
“It’s more spiritual than anything,” she said, “that what makes it easy — the fact that we both desire the same thing.”
The Chinns’ want success not just for themselves, but for their three daughters as well.
Their oldest daughter, Chloe, is affectionately called, “the hostess with the mostess,” of the restaurant.
“Generational wealth is important to us, so, we just want to make sure our girls have a good start off to life,” she said.
Kiara is a native of New Orleans and Coppage said to bring authentic New Orleans cuisine to the Delta and Washington County is wonderful.
“The inside is done up in murals and it’s just a parade of colors and its New Orleans when you walk in and the food is just fabulous,” Coppage raved.
The walls are adorned with art by local artist Corey Johnson and with New Orleans-themed images such as the silhouette of a second line and Mardi Gras masks.
According to the Chinns, the gumbo they serve is definitely the “people’s champ” of menu items and definitely worth the wait it takes to be prepared.
“You can taste the dedication in it and you can taste that it wasn’t anything made in minutes,” Kiara said.
However, it could be said there are levels to a Café Dat Taste of New Orleans meal, or more appropriately, a satisfying seafood broil.
The restaurant has what’s called “Da Block Party,” which is shrimp and the signature seafood broil fixings such as potatoes, corn and sausage.
Then, there’s an upgraded version called “Da Block Party Deluxe” which consists of shrimp and crab legs.
Finally, the broil that is all the rave is “Da Premium Block Party” — a broil of shrimp, crab legs and lobster tail along with the all fixings.
The Howard Davis conference room, named after Everett’s great-great-uncle, is also an attribute of the restaurant, as it will be used for lunch meetings and presentations for parties of 20-25 individuals.
Eventually, the Chinns’ will have a projector installed in the conference room, which will make the conference room ideal for in-depth conferences.
It will also serve as a “spill-over” area for those patrons who are waiting on their carry out orders.
“We want to thank the City of Greenville for all of their support as well as Washington County and the sheriff’s department and all agencies for their support,” Chinn said. “We ask for the community to continue to stick with us and support us.”
He added being that he and wife Kiara are not from Greenville, but are a part of the community, they feel compelled to say to the Greenville community, “thank you for loving us and allowing us to be a part of the community.”
“Now that we’ve been here 10 years, we truly see that if you love Greenville, if you love the Queen City and the people in the community and all that the city has to offer, it will love you back,” Chinn said.
Café Dat Taste of New Orleans’ is open from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday and from 3:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Chinns cook all of the meals themselves and the dishes they prepare take time and preparation, Kiara highlighted.
“We want to start small, and then build and grow our business. We don’t want to bite off more than we can chew, so to speak,” Chinn said.
To make reservations or to place an order, customers can call 662-400-0096.
Another small business addition Coppage highlighted was Grounded Sister Coffee Shop located at 825 S. Main St., which held its grand opening May 23.
“If you look at what’s going on in the current climate, most people would think, ‘You’re crazy to open up a business right now,’ but when a person looks at market research, understands the community, and the community understands the sacrifices these businesses are going through, the community supports business,” Coppage said.
He added his experience at Grounded Sister Coffee Shop was “fabulous” as he enjoyed the scones, pastries and coffee which is ground right here in Mississippi.
“And again, it’s something that this community needed and wanted and desired and they filled a niche and it’s fabulous inside. The atmosphere is amazing, the service is amazing,” Coppage highlighted.
Coppage noted long time Greenville businesses, such as Spectators, have made such notable investments into downtown.
He said of local business owners, “These are people that having been planning well before COVID-19 to make these investments and I salute them to the fullest because they are making commitments to Greenville and they are laying their hearts on the line, they are laying their families, finances and everything on the line and they are now entering into our small business community so that our own people will embrace them and say ‘thanks’ for those investments.”
Coppage also pointed out every small business is having to invest a great deal to ensure the safety and protection of their customers which includes, but is not limited to, spacing out tables, installing plexiglass and even building extra seated areas.
“I want to highlight all the businesses in our area because I know they’re making a great investment to get people back in their doors to ensure their safety,” Coppage said.
Downtown Grille is also open for inside dining and its business hours until further notice are from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
However, Downtown Grille as well as other restaurants, such as Jim’s Café, is still offering take-out services.
Washington County as a whole, Coppage said, is really thriving despite “hurdles” that have needed to be crossed.
He described the Washington County as a community of resilience, based on its history and reputation.
“We’re a community where people come together to help each other out and as the saying goes, ‘The comeback is a lot stronger than the setback,’” Coppage said. “We’re just so excited as we’re seeing the doors open to these retailers and these restaurateurs and these other small businesses and they’re getting excited as well.”
Coppage also highlighted how many retailers and restaurants in Greenville such as Sherman’s, Sipi Gal Fashion Boutique and Emery Lee Boutique have included an e-commerce component on their website in which customers can place orders online.
Some businesses also extend a similar service using their social media platforms.
“People definitely found creative ways to be industrious in commerce,” Coppage said.