Cottonwood Public House restaurant and bar in the works downtown

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, December 14, 2017

Downtown Vicksburg will soon have a new tenant serving up a mixture of locally brewed beer, pizza and an assortment of other “hangout food.”

Cottonwood Public House located at 1309 Washington St. is set to open by the end of the year as the latest addition to a growing restaurant and bar scene in downtown Vicksburg.

The project is being led by Tim Cantwell, who also owns the First National Building next door and will include Cottonwood Public House as well as Key City Brewery, which they hope to have up and running by February.

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The goal is for the restaurant/bar to be a place where people can come and have a casual dinner, listen to live music and enjoy an in house brewed beer.

“We talked about public house because that is what we wanted it to be,” General Manager Jon Weimorts said of how they chose the name. “We wanted it to be this community place. You are going to be able to get good ingredients, quality food and drink. We also want it to be casual.”

The plan to open the restaurant started after Cantwell was looking for ways to expand the outdoor space for the residents of The Loft in the First National Building.

“We are full in the residences and the folks who live here for the most part aren’t from here so they don’t have a sense of community,” Cantwell said. “We try to create a sense of community inside the Lofts. That deck is heavily used, but it’s not big enough and this was an ugly old rooftop.”

The only way to expand the area was to purchase the buildings at 1309 and 1311 Washington St. and use the available roof space, which left them with the entire downstairs area to use for another project.

“I’ve known Tim many years and he called me to do some consulting at the bar at 10 South,” Weimorts said. “About a year later he called me out of the blue and we start talking about this building. They were talking about taking the building for the rooftop … We got the whole building so we were talking about how we were going to do everything. We were laying it out and we knew we were going to do a bar.”

After looking at the space available, they decided to also add a brewery to the project.

Weimorts said they plan to start brewing beer under the name Key City Brewery in January and have the first batch ready to serve in February. The brewing area will be visible from the street through one of the two sets of floor to ceiling French doors that will make up the front of the restaurant.

“We will have all sorts,” Weimorts said of the beer selection. “There is no one size fits all. There will be something for everybody. We will have lagers, stouts, ambers, will be doing seasonal stuff and fun stuff. The goal is we will have our core, year-round beers and there will be a variety of them. We trust in him very much to be able to have fun and do new things. He has a lot of room to grow and do what he wants to do seasonally and regionally.”

The brewer will be Zack Erickson, who is moving to Vicksburg from San Diego where he has spent the past few years working in the vibrant craft brew scene in the region.

“He’s very big into the brew scene,” Weimorts said. “He’s home brewing for many years and he’s been working in breweries for the past two and a half years in San Diego. That is the mecca. That is where you would to start. San Diego is the largest craft brew producer in the country.”

The kitchen is dominated by a stone pizza oven and the plan is for everything served in the restaurant to be made from fresh ingredients from local suppliers.

“Blake (Parmegiani, the kitchen manager) and I have been very adamant that we don’t want to go the frozen route,” Weimorts said. “Blake’s been looking into local farms and distributors around the area. The food that will be on the plate won’t be prepackaged frozen nonsense. We will be cutting our stuff here, making our dough here in house, everything is going to be fresh.”

The restaurant will also have a Murphy bed style stage that can be dropped down and host live acts.

After the restaurant opens, the focus of the project will turn to the second phase, which includes six loft apartments being built on the roof of the existing buildings and an event space on the roof of the expansion.