GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Honky-tonk is coming to downtown Gulfport, and we bet you'll recognize the country music legend's name attached to the project. Gilley's Honky Tonk Grill, inspired by country star Mickey Gilley, is set to open soon.
Stephen Barnette and his dad, Gary, set their sights on downtown Gulfport, Stephen's hometown.
"It just seemed like a natural fit for the concept we wanted to do," said Barnette.
That concept was a classy, casual saloon, all centered around award winning country music legend Mickey Gilley.
Gary took a chance on a past connection with Gilley, and soon he was on the phone with the man himself.
"Mickey and I got on the phone for 20 minutes, talked like old school mates, and we had a deal, we hung up and that was it," said Gary.
Next thing you know, Stephen and Gary were headed to Texas to meet with the Urban Cowboy.
"Mickey invited us out to his home in Pasadena where we had the opportunity to explain our concept to him," said Gary.
That concept is a bar and grill that celebrates Gilley's career by displaying memorabilia, like the original mechanical bull from his club in Texas, and by touting his accomplishments.
Accomplishments like 39 top 40 and 17 number one country music hits. Gary said Gilley was immediately on board.
Stephen was impressed with the way the downtown area has been redeveloping since Hurricane Katrina and wanted to be a part of it.
"We're here to try to promote business for everyone, to help promote downtown's development and growth," Stephen said.
Now, the Barnettes only have a few weeks left to open before what will likely be one of the busiest weeks of the year; Cruisin' the Coast. Stephen said he's prepared for the challenge.
"We're expecting to be busy. We're expecting to be thrown right into the deep end of the pool/ but we'll be ready," said Stephen.
According to the Barnettes, the restaurant will feature indoor and outdoor dining, as well as live music. You can find Gilley's Honky Tonk Grill in the former sushi bar downtown, right next to Mosaic and Murky Waters.