New tenant|Owner vows ‘Southern cooking with Cajun spice’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 13, 2009

A place to sit down, unwind, have a drink and catch some football on the tube or a live act on stage.

It’s a simple vision Vicksburg native Henry McGrew has for Eli’s Treehouse restaurant on Cherry Street.

“It was always something I wanted to do,” said McGrew, whose blue-collar and small-business background are being put to use in his latest venture.

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“I want it to be a place where people come to enjoy life,” he said. “If it breaks even, fine. I just want families to enjoy it.”

No firm opening date has been determined for Vicksburg’s newest restaurant and bar, branded with McGrew’s middle name, which is in the building formerly occupied by The Tree House Cafe, which closed in 2006. The property was held by former owners Holly and Vearl Beck, in care of Utah-based Alden View Funding LLC, until McGrew closed on the property last week.

Before a grand opening is announced, the parking lot will be paved and perhaps expanded in preparation for down-home Southern fare with regional influences. Though not billed as a family business, McGrew will have some help from daughters Shelia Taylor and Tina McClellan when it comes to booking events and hiring.

“It’ll be Southern cooking with Cajun spice,” Taylor said, promising a moderately priced menu of steaks and pasta will be the kind of “reasonable pricing everybody needs right now.”

Bars on the lower and upper floors will serve beer and wine near a performance stage to feature after-hours entertainment. Ambiance figures to be lighter on the arbor-like feel of the previous business, as four huge trees near the stage area have been removed for better viewing of high-definition televisions.

“We’ll have big-name bands and ‘Monday Night Football,’” McGrew said.

Conference space and extra dining space will remain on the upper floors and will feature the soft notes of a concert pianist and conference space. Artwork depicting Vicksburg’s riverfront murals will also stay, augmented by donated art by local nursing home residents, Taylor said.

McGrew’s endeavor into the restaurant business amounts to his third career. He welded steel on offshore jackup rigs at LeTourneau and sold septic supplies before spending the past few years in Benton, La. And the venture will take place in the shadow of his alma mater, the former Carr Central High School.

Eli’s joins a growing list of restaurants to open in Vicksburg in 2009. Earlier this year, Roca opened with a European-themed, fine dining menu at the Vicksburg Country Club while Monsour’s moved into the former Biscuit Company space on Washington Street. Martin’s at Midtown opened at Belmont and Drummond streets in the spring, within eyeshot of Eli’s.

David Mitchell of Warren Realty said agent Nettie Stauts facilitated the purchase of the dormant Cherry Street property for $600,000.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at