OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Small businesses across the Gulf Coast each have a different COVID-19 story to tell. Craft Advisory in Ocean Springs started telling theirs as the coronavirus strengthened its grip on South Mississippi.
The new brewpub opened its doors just as COVID-19 regulations were beginning to let up back in May. Martin Konrad, self-proclaimed beer dork and brewmaster, said that his wife’s business is working to set the bar here on Government Street.
For Government Street regulars that are used to seeing Chef Scott’s, there’s a new, very different option in town.
“We did a complete renovation on the inside. Then we did an expansion on the front of the building to house our all-electric, computer-controlled brewhouse. We can make 120-gallon batches at a time. We make what the people are looking to drink,” Konrad said.
Quenching their thirst isn’t the only thing Konrad has to offer his customers. Craft Advisory operates on a three-pronged vision.
“What our vision was is to have great beer, great food and great service. We want people to come in and leave happier than when they came. That goes, as well, for our staff. We want to have a great place for people to work. They can go home and enjoy time with their families, you know. That was the vision that we had, and we have a terrific staff that’s allowed us to do that,” Konrad said.
Great food, Konrad said, wasn’t something that was in his wheelhouse. So, he partnered with Matthew Stuart, who is no stranger to the kitchen.
“I grew up in a very big family, Big family get-together meals and stuff is how I kind of grew up, farm to table food. I brought that into some fine dining aspects of my career,” said Craft Advisory Executive Chef Matt Stuart.
Keeping the pub’s craft beers as a focal point is how Stuart’s menu was designed.
“The gumbo really turns out nice. We use our house Irish stout to darken that up. Takes that dark roux to even another level and gives us a really nice depth of flavor with that gumbo. It’s gonna set us apart from everyone else,” Stuart said.
The gumbo isn’t even his favorite menu item.
“It’s our fried chicken dish. Super crispy, southern fried chicken, boneless, skinless thigh. We’re gonna serve that over bacon fried rice with a butter bean succotash and we’ll have a little drizzle of sweet hot pecan syrup over the top,” Stuart said droolingly.
With a host of beers on tap and an eager staff ready to serve, food is what Konrad and Stuart said ties it all together. It is, however, the quality in which that food is prepared that Stuart said will loyal fans out of first-time visitors.
“Everybody thinks that Southern food can’t be really elevated to the fine dining level, but I really want to prove people wrong by showing that we can take these southern dishes that everybody grew up on, the rib-sticking meals, and elevate them and showcase them in a very elegant manner that showcases that Mississippi is not a traditional mac and cheese state,” Stuart told WLOX.