White Pillars restaurant to be restored

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Fans of the old White Pillars restaurant in Biloxi have something to smile about. The landmark will be restored and re-opened.

The renovation project went before the city's Development Review Committee on Wednesday morning.

The owner, 84 year old John Mladinich, says, "You can't keep a good man down."

He's battled illness in recent years, but he's awfully excited about restoring his beloved restaurant.

It seems most everyone who's lived here long enough, has fond memories of the old White Pillars.

"We're encouraged to move forward, yes," said Scott Rheams, as he presented plans to the committee.

Mladinich and his development team answered questions about the project before that committee.

The White Pillars has been closed more than 20 years. Restoration plans include removing the front canopy and windows, making the prominent pillars the focus of the restaurant's front.

"It's going to be very similar, except for some changes. We're going to take the canopy down and expose the big, beautiful beams," said Mladinich, "That's what you'll see instead of the canopy, which we're excited about that. And we're adding another dining room to compensate."

Details before the committee included things like sewer lines, parking spaces and signs.

The city's Ed Shambra asked, "Do you know how you're going to do signage?"

"We'll use existing building signage that's on the main building today. It will stay in place. There may be another small site sign we want to put on the property," said Rheams, who is with Convest Properties.

You may recall plans were announced four years ago to restore the restaurant. That project never happened. But this time Mr. Mladinich says he's very excited about the possibilities and potential.

"Always loved the White Pillars. I always did. That's where we made a little cash there at one time. Didn't have any gambling either," he said, laughing.

So many Biloxians and visitors from days gone by harbor fond memories of dining at the White Pillars. Many of those memories involve the restaurant's signature dish: Eggplant Josephine. And the owner promises it will be on the menu.

"People stop you, it's unbelievable. Truck drivers, everybody. You wouldn't believe it. They know about it and know what it tastes like. So, we're going to be doing it again," said a smiling Mladinich.

He'll be leasing the restaurant to what he called a "national concern." Whoever that is, he said they don't want any publicity just yet.

There's no word yet on a timetable for when the restoration and re-opening will occur or the cost of the project.

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