Scenic Hwy 7

Scenic Hwy 7 is one of those country roads that has many stories to tell.  This trip through the hill country of Mississippi is one of the best for a lot of reasons, the best one being finding great BBQ Joints.


Scenic Hwy 7

The road for me on a Monday begins in Grenada at 8 a.m. sitting on the square in downtown.  The lighted gazebo and gardens are the stage for events in Grenada all year long, including our favorite, Grenada Afterglow Film Festival coming up each year in October.

Take a minute and enjoy the ambiance and architecture of the square and see how this town center is being revitalized and energized with apartments for downtown living, a first class event center at First & Green, and home gallery of resident artist Robin Whitfield.

If you want small town charm and want to trade big city noise for small town problems, then your brain is on the right track thinking Grenada, Mississippi.




IN SEARCH OF ‘MISSISSIPPI’ BARBECUE March 1, 2017 Clarion-Ledger article p.9 A

Gas station fare, other varieties thrive in shadow of Memphis

By Jacob Threadgill

USA Today Network – Mississippi


Mississippi does not elicit the same national recognition for its barbecue compared to Memphis’s sweet sauce or dry rub, Alabama’s white gravy, or even Kentucky’s mutton.

Like most things in Mississippi, if you dig deeper, you’ll find that the reality doesn’t fit the national narrative.

Mississippi is home to more competition-winning pitmasters than any other state, and here you’re more likely to find a variety of styles at a gas station or side-of-the-road smokehouse than a tablecloth-lined restaurant.

Jackson native Jim Hatten founded the Mississippi BBQ Trail website (ed. in 2011 as a way to market the state’s barbecue restaurants.  For Hatten, 57, whose mother grew up in Rosedale and can trace his lineage directly to Jefferson Davis, it was time for Mississippians to take pride in their barbecue.

“People are too busy criticizing us to stop and smell the beautiful fragrance of a magnolia,” Hatten said.  “If people come to Mississippi for barbecue and have a good experience, they might even move here.”

Hatten’s initial research unearthed more than 270 barbecue restaurants in the state, and only 21 percent of them had their own website.  Many of the state’s barbecue establishments are family-owned and take in less than $250,00 per year, which doesn’t exactly leave them much of an advertising budget, Hatten said.

Much of Mississippi’s barbecue tradition is tied to the state’s skilled and unskilled labor working class, who have often operated out of a gas station or a small shack near a factory.

In fact, the state can stake its claim as being the home of gas station barbecue.  Hatten’s website lists more than 20 high-quality gas stations dishing out slow-cooked meats, and a Google search of “gas station barbecue” lists his site as the top hit.

“Gas station barbecue is a phenomenon in the South and especially Mississippi,” Hatten said.  “It’s servicing a population of the state that otherwise probably wouldn’t have lunch because they have to get back to work . . . a family-run joint is the archetype if the state.”

Such was the case for Leatha Jackson when she opened a small restaurant across from a papermill in Foxworth, just outside of Columbia.  Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn has since moved into Hattiesburg, but it exists as one of the state’s best places for barbecue in relative anonymity.

“The Rolling Stones have eaten at Leatha’s, presidents have ordered from Leatha’s, but the only advertising they use is by word of mouth,” Hatten said.

In the shadow of Memphis

Just as Memphis claims many Mississippi musicians as its own, it’s the same for pitmasters, Hatten said.  If a successful pitmaster in a Mississippi town wanted to ply the trade in a bigger city, Memphis was the most logical place to move.

The state’s variety of styles is one of its strengths.  Mississippi barbecue largely resembles sweet Memphis-style sauces, but you can also find brisket, dry rub and even Carolina-inspired vinegar sauce, like at Jackson’s Pig and Pint and Triple A’s Barbecue in Flowood.

“You’re not going to get vinegar-based sauce in Kansas City, but you sure can get it right down the road (in Jackson),” Hatten said.

The specialization of barbecue did not begin until the early 20th century, according to Robert Moss, author of “Barbecue:  The History of an American Institution” and barbecue editor for Southern Living Magazine.

Moss said that 19th-century accounts of barbecue from Texas to Virginia were largely the same.  Regional specialization began in large city centers where tent vendors evolved into restaurants during the early decades of the 20th century.

“CoMpared to other states, Mississippi doesn’t have as many legendary barbecue places,” Moss said.  “I don’t strongly have a sense of what Mississippi barbecue is because it’s an amalgamation of the styles found in the places around it.”

Mississippi longest continuously operating barbecue restaurant, Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, has served customers pecan-smoked pork since 1924.

“Abe’s developed in that way, but it is so sparsely populated (in the Delta) that in never really got beyond that community,” Moss said.

The Tate County community of Gravel Springs hosts an annual Labor Day picnic, started by legendary fife player Otha Turner in the 1950’s, where barbecued whole goat is the star of the feast.  The festival is depicted in a short documentary produced by Ava Lowrey for the Southern Foodways Alliance.

It’s an example of nearly 30 barbecue-related community festivals that can be found throughout the state all year long.  Hatten hopes to use these festivals as a backdrop for a television show, “The Search for the Next Barbecue World Champion,” for which a pilot is in pre-production with Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

According to Hatten, Mississippi has produced 17 world champion pitmasters, more than any other state.  Three Mississippians took home titles in 2016:  Melissa Cookston of Memphis Barbecue Company in Horn Lake; Hank Vaiden at Hank’s Barbecue in Columbus; and Brad Orrison at The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs.  Orrison’s mother, Linda, is the current president of the National Barbecue & Grilling Association.  Cookston and Vaiden have each appeared on the Destination America series “BBQ Pitmasters.”

Notes:  Article transcribed from the Clarion-Ledger Daily News.

Click here for the online article:

MSBBQTrail Founder featured in “Hindsight” Magazine Winter 2017

MSBBQTrail Founder Jim Hatten is the subject of an article in the Winter 2017 edition of “Hindsight” magazine, a publication produced by the Community Relations Department for the Development Foundation of Hinds Community College.  This quarterly magazine is distributed to alumni nationwide by Hinds Community College, now celebrating 100 Years of Community Inspired Service.


Former Jet Mechanic, Instructor Cooks Up New Career With Hinds’ Help  

Article Credits:
Author:  Danny Barrett, H.C.C. Hindsight columnist
Photograph of Mr. Hatten:  April Garon, H.C.C. Staff Photographer


Text of the article:
  (Photos by Jim Hatten)

Jim Hatten (2014) has been down many trails in his professional career, from that of a jet engine mechanic to a salesman.  These days, he’s blazing a new one fostered by his Hinds experience – first as an instructor but, more recently, as a student.

The 57-year-old Jackson native and former staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force was an instructor in the college’s Aviation Maintenance program from 1992-95.  He was both teacher and marketer, working to promote the program with aviation businesses.


“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” he said.       “I enjoyed the students and did a lot of different things.  Inspiring the students was really a great pleasure for me.  I had a good experience working at Hinds.”

His professional life then took a circuitous path.  He spent eight years in engineering and design in the aerospace industry, took to the road as an insurance salesman and became involved in commercial property development.

Then in 2011 two seemingly unrelated events formed the idea that became his next life – the Mississippi BBQ Trail, a marketing vehicle for barbecue restaurants in the state.

“At one (commercial) Property, there was this 5,000 -gallon steel fuel drum they wanted to turn into a barbecue grill.  The same week, Smithsonian Magazine came out with something about the feral hog epidemic in the South.  I thought, man, wild hog barbecue is some of the best-tasting meat you ever put in your mouth.  I started thinking of ways I could help sell that.”


Months of research into the state’s barbecue offerings became Hatten’s homework when he returned to Hinds in 2013 as a student in the Marketing Management Technology program.

While working on a class project, “I came up with 263 barbecue joints in the state,” he said.

“Most of these places are mom-and-pop operations with five to nine employees and make less than $250,000 a year.  That tells me they can’t afford to advertise two blocks down the street.  For the locally-owned barbecue joint, they don’t have any visibility.  And only 21.7 percent had a website.  That told me the tourists can’t find them,” he said.

His class projects earned top grades, for which he credits instructors at Hinds as well as for bringing his marketing knowledge into the 21st century.  The fruit of that labor can be seen on the trail’s website, at

“The marketing management faculty helped with everything.  They taught me how to build a website, which had been like a black box of magic to me.”  Hatten earned his Associate of Applied Science in Marketing Management Technology with a little extra sauce – he’d also graduated magna cum laude and been a member of Phi Theta Kappa and DECA.

“While in my class, Jim learned how to build a website, the concepts needed to manage a website and how to publish a website,” said Jo Ponder, who instructs Computer Programming Technology on the Raymond Campus.  “Jim took that knowledge and elevated it to a working model.”

The trail itself connects locals, tourists and grill foodies alike to local businesses that register to be on the listing site.  A potential “stop” on the trail must have a business license, cook and serve barbecue pork and/or beef and have a valid health department inspection certificate.

Hatten describes the state’s barbecue restaurant scene as a world market of sorts, where all culinary styles on the grill can be found.


“We have everything,” he said.  “We have all the different kinds of barbecue here.  You have the Memphis style, which is a tomato-based sauce, the Carolinas style, with vinegar-based sauce, the Kansas City style, which is a lot of wet ribs.  Also, a lot of influences in Mississippi came from the Caribbean, which we have as well.”

Hatten sees his efforts to promote the industry as simply paying it forward.

“My teachers, my coaches, my mentors, find somebody who needs help and help them,” He said. “And here’s an entire industry that’s underrepresented online.  I just want to give people a reason to turn off the road and get something to eat.”

Learn about your favorite Certified Trail Stop on the Mississippi BBQ Trail




BBQ by Jim Smokehouse & Grill   (662) 840-8800   203 Commerce Street   Tupelo, MS  38804

Certified Trail Stop     BBQ by Jim Website     BBQ by Jim Facebook



AAA’s Barbecue     (769) 216-2753     1206 Luckney Road Suite A     Brandon, MS  39047

Certified Trail Stop  AAA’s Facebook



Bullys Restaurant exterior-Yelp_Jackson

Bully’s Restaurant  (601) 362-0484  3118 Livingston Road  Jackson, MS  39213

Certified Trail Stop       Facebook Bully’s Restaurant



Chimneyville Smokehouse  (601) 354-4665  970 High Street Jackson, MS  39202

 Certified Trail Stop    Chimneyville Website     Chimneyville Facebook




Certified Trail Stop     Daddio’s Website     Daddio’s Facebook


Pig & Pint logo2_Jackson The-Pig-and-Pint-msmag-bestof16_Jackson

Pig & Pint storefront_Jackson

The Pig & Pint     (601) 326-6070  3739 North State Street  Jackson, MS  39216

Certified Trail Stop     The Pig & Pint Website     The Pit & Pint Facebook




                The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint    (288) 875-9590    7501 Hwy 57                     Ocean Springs, MS  39565

Certified Trail Stop     The Shed Website     The Shed Facebook


Pleasant’s BBQ in Ocean Springs

See the sign for great barbecue!

See the sign for great barbecue!

Ocean Springs is a one-of-a-kind resort community along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that has a laid back culture and a home-crafted artistic flair.  The artisans of all stripes enjoy the small-town atmosphere and the culinary excellence found in the great entertainment district on Government Street.  Turn right off of Bienville Boulevard US 90 onto Washington Street, then left onto Government Street and 3 blocks to Pleasant’s BBQ.

Pleasant's BBQ 1415 Government Street Ocean Springs, MS  39564 (228) 875-3384

Pleasant’s BBQ
1415 Government Street
Ocean Springs, MS 39564
(228) 875-3384

Michael Pleasant Is serving pecan-smoked barbecue since 1982 and the quality of your meal is the mark of a serious Pit Master.

Looking east along Government Street to Pleasant's BBQ.

Looking east along Government Street to Pleasant’s BBQ.

Walking into Pleasant’s BBQ is your chance to meet Grady Smith.

Grady Smith of Pleasant's BBQ greets MSBBQTrail Founder Jim Hatten on a sunny afternoon.

Grady Smith of Pleasant’s BBQ greets MSBBQTrail Founder Jim Hatten on a sunny afternoon.

Michael Pleasant has one of the great BBQ Sauce recipes anywhere.  Be sure to take some a bottle of southern goodness for your kitchen.

Q in the Lou Festival brings Mississippi Cooking Teams

Today St. Louis, Missouri will host “Q in the Lou” Festival along the banks of the Mississippi River.  Three of our great BBQ Teams from Mississippi will represent and be serving fine food to the tourists and locals there.  Ubon’s Cooking Team from Yazoo City, The Shed Cooking Team from Ocean Springs, and the Memphis Barbecue Company Cooking Team from Southaven, MS are primed and showing folks a good time.


Logo of the St. Louis BBQ Festival

Logo of the St. Louis BBQ Festival

September 25, 26, and 27, 2015 at St. Louis Soldiers’ Memorial

The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs, MS

The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint in Van Cleave, MS

Ubon's Restaurant in Yazoo City, MS

Ubon’s Restaurant in Yazoo City, MS

Ubon's Cooking Team preparing for "Q in the Lou" in St. Louis, MO

Ubon’s Cooking Team preparing for “Q in the Lou” in St. Louis, MO

Ubon's rolls out the Southern Hospitality

Ubon’s rolls out the Southern Hospitality

Memphis Barbecue Company in Southaven, MS

Memphis Barbecue Company in Southaven, MS

Trophies for the Memphis Barbecue Company Cooking Team

Trophies for the Memphis Barbecue Company Cooking Team

Chimneyville Smokehouse Jackson, MS


The High Street scenic entryway into the city of Jackson, Mississippi boasts the hickory smoke flavors of Chimneyville Smokehouse.  Of course, I am walking to Chimneyville through one of the oldest residential areas of the city.

Drive-up Breakfast available at Chimneyville Smokehouse.

Drive-up Breakfast available at Chimneyville Smokehouse.

Jackson was founded in 1822 by decree of the state legislature, to be built in a place central to the state and convenient for all our citizens.  This place on the banks of the Pearl River was known by it’s white-man’s name, LeFleur’s Bluff, so named after the French trapper and trader Louis LeFleur, one of the first European settlers to the area and one with a great and lasting influence on our state.  The Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians that lived in this area may have a place name for what is now Jackson, but that name has eluded me so far.

First, I need some good photos of the exterior of Chimneyville Smokehouse.  I arrive early in the morning to avoid the traffic and get the best light.  I walk across High Street and set up my tripod and check the frame – now I need to be in the median in the middle of the street to get the shot.  Just before sunrise there isn’t too much traffic yet, so I maneuver and get my photos.  The best photos have no shadows and the early morning light on a clear day gives good results.

Early morning photo of Chimneyville Smokehouse from High Street.

Early morning photo of Chimneyville Smokehouse from High Street.





These early morning pictures turned out great and I like the light as the shoot progressed, seeing the colors of the sky change to bright daylight.

Next, I schedule a time to visit with Mr. Z.  Zercon Smith, the owner of Chimneyville Smokehouse, agrees to see me around lunch time in the heat of the day.  I approach Chimneyville Smokehouse from the west, on street behind and the first thing I notice is a huge black semi-tractor trailer rig with “Nationwide On-Site Catering” and “The definitive dining experience, Delivered” emblazoned in white letters on the side of the trailer.  An 18-wheel kitchen that can feed 5,000 people at a time and respond to a natural disaster nationwide to help feed for those in need.  How many BBQ Joints to you know that have this kind of mission capability?  So far, I have found one.

Nationwide on-site catering for up to 5,000 for groups in the SE Region and available for disaster response nationwide.

Nationwide on-site catering for up to 5,000 for groups in the SE Region and available for disaster response nationwide.

A tour of the grounds and I find activity all around.  People are coming and going at a leisurely pace.


Chimneyville Smokehouse parking is full at lunch time.

If you play the car tag game, this parking lot will keep you busy – license plates from all over America.

Easy in and out for the drive thru.

Easy in and out for the drive thru.

You can get lunch on the go or call in your orders for 4 or more people and a Chimneyville delivery van will bring it to you.

You can get lunch on the go or call in your orders for 4 or more people and a Chimneyville delivery van will bring it to you.

Rose bushes on the eastern exposure of Chimneyville Smokehouse.

I find the rose bushes on the east side of the building and pause to see just how healthy the plants are, knowing the blistering southern sun can kill most plants if you don’t tend them properly.  This rose bush is doing great – only morning sun and someone is watering them regularly.

A beautiful rose in full bloom getting its morning light outside Chimneyville Smokehouse.

A beautiful rose in full bloom gets a morning drink of sunshine outside Chimneyville Smokehouse.

People pass me, making their way into the restaurant without commenting on the attention the pink roses are getting.  Chimneyville is right across the street from the Mississippi Fairgrounds, so there are people coming and going everyday of the year.  The Mississippi Coliseum on the Fairgrounds is booked out for over a year with events and concerts and is home to the Dixie National Rodeo, a championship event that draws cowboys and cowgirls from 38 states and 15 foreign countries.  The only rodeo in America that is this big is held in Denver, Colorado once a year.  The Fordice Equine Center in Jackson and the surrounding grounds are host to horse trailers events throughout the year, so big belt buckles and cowboy boots are kicking it on High Street most every day.

Folks visiting the Mississippi Fairgrounds just across the street find Chimneyville Smokehouse a quick lunch with a distinctly Southern touch.

Folks visiting the Mississippi Fairgrounds just across the street find Chimneyville Smokehouse a quick lunch with a distinctly Southern touch.

Chimneyville Smokehouse boardwalk-2

Chimneyville Smokehouse boardwalk-3

Mr. Z wants the decor to reflect the history of the city.

Mr. Z wants the decor to reflect the history of the city.

The serving line is clean and neat, steaming with fresh food.  The aroma of hickory-smoked meats is relaxing.

How can you always enjoy your day? See a smiling face at lunch.

How can you always enjoy your day? See a smiling face at lunch.


Lunchtime in Jackson includes hickory-smoked barbecue.

Lunchtime in Jackson includes hickory-smoked barbecue.


Judy Grimes, Food Service Manager at Chimneyville Smokehouse presides over customer service with a smile.

Judy Grimes, Food Service Manager at Chimneyville Smokehouse presides over customer service with a smile.


Now it’s time for lunch!  A sampling of hickory-smoked BBQ Ribs and Boston Butt Pulled Pork for starters, broccoli casserole, baked beans, add in some mac-n-cheese and black-eyed peas with corn bread and we’re off to a good start. Yes, that is pie there waiting for me . . . MMMmmmm dessert!

Barbecue and fresh vegetables for lunch at Chimneyville Smokehouse.

Barbecue and fresh vegetables for lunch at Chimneyville Smokehouse.

BBQ Ribs and Sweet Tea. Can't get more Southern than that.

BBQ Ribs and Sweet Tea. Can’t get more Southern than that.

The bones are piling up.

The bones are piling up.

I return to Chimneyville Smokehouse a few days later to find a party in progress!

You can rent the facility at Chimneyville Smokehouse for parties and events.

You can rent the facility at Chimneyville Smokehouse for parties and events.

IMG_0087Chimneyville Smokehouse has the distinction of being a frequent host of events for for any occasion in their full-service facility. Family celebrations and company dinners use the Depot-style building to gather and have meals together with Southern Hospitality. Music and special needs can be accommodated with a phone call.  Invite one hundred and fifty of your friends to your next party, then call Chimneyville Smokehouse and rent their facility.  All that’s left for you to do is to choose the menu – Chimneyville does all the rest.  They cook and clean so you don’t have to.

Southern Hospitality.

Colorful friends are the best kind of friends to have around.

Colorful friends are the best kind of friends to have around.


Triple A’s Barbecue near the Barnett Reservoir in Brandon, MS


Triple A’s Barbecue on Old Fannin Road, near the Barnett Reservoir in Brandon, MS is located inside of the Old Fannin Road Exxon gas station.  To navigate, Spillway Road on the west side of the reservoir intersects with Old Fannin Road, turn south and just behind the McDonald’s and you will see Old Fannin Road Exxon.  You have now arrived at a serious Gas Station BBQ Joint.  You can also follow them on Facebook.

AAAs-BBQ-exterior1_Brandon   AAAs-BBQ-exterior2_Brandon

When you open the door to go inside, the pecan wood smoke begins to take over.  You can quickly tell that the aroma of spices and smoked meats are wrapping around your mind and all of your senses – turn to the left and head over to the counter.  Behind the counter you find a smiling gentleman wearing his work, Mr. Chris Haley, Chef Extraordinaire of Triple A’s BBQ.


Chef Chris grew up on a farm in Dickson, Tennessee and knows what it takes to grow and raise and tend and harvest a plate of good food.  Country cooking is famous fare in the hills near Loretta Lynn’s house, so when Chris enlisted in the U.S. Navy, he was selected to attend the U.S. Navy Culinary Specialist School in San Diego, California.  Center for Service Support (CSS) Learning Site San Diego Culinary School

Chef Chris then drew orders and sailed aboard the frigate USS Taylor FFG-50, a ship that was just recently decommissioned on May 8, 2015 after 30 years in service. After his tour of duty and later moving to Mississippi, Chef Chris commanded the kitchen at the famous Parker House in Madison, MS for many years. His expertise and enthusiasm is now working everyday in his own restaurant to provide folks with the best barbecue.


Chef Chris is an enthusiastic Grill Master and I managed to prevail upon him for a tour of the kitchen.  The first piece of equipment I see is the most important – the smoker.  This is a Southern Pride electric smoker that uses a tray for wood chips in the bottom of the cabinet.  This is a self-contained unit and excellent results can be achieve if you have the talent for low and slow.  Some Grill Masters and Chefs are now using pelleted hickory – small chips of hickory wood compacted into a capsule shape similar to a headache medication.  These hickory pellets are placed in a metal tray and put on the top rack of the smoker or any preferred spot.  Chef Chris shows us his hatchet and chopping station where he prepares the various wood varieties for smoking and what the results look like after smoking meat all day.  Chef explains that he doesn’t use just pecan wood, but adds other varieties to give his signature smoked flavor.

AAAs-BBQ-kitchen3_Brandon   AAAs-BBQ-kitchen4_Brandon

Triple A’s Barbecue offers Pulled Pork, BBQ Ribs, Smoked Beef Brisket complimented with side items like a Loaded Baked Potato Salad and Baked Beans that are WOW! All the meats prepared by Chef Chris are pecan-smoked, low and slow, to be tender and full of flavor. The BBQ Ribs are “3 1/2 down” – Chef-speak for what civilians call Baby Back Ribs – you can pull the rib bone out, they are so tender.  Chef prepares me a sampling of BBQ Ribs, Smoked Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Green Beans, and a full compliment of his exclusive sauces.

Chef Chris also prepares dessert fresh daily, with Peach Cobbler and Pecan Cobbler as Southern as the Sweet Tea served with your meal.

Anytime I find a Grill Master that prepares Beef Brisket, I always take notice. Brisket is difficult to prepare properly and Chef Chris has a Perfect 10. Our friends say “I didn’t know brisket could be this good.” Tender and flavorful, this brisket really doesn’t need sauce, but Chef Chris has a specially prepared Brisket Sauce that is impressive by itself.

AAAs-BBQ-interior2_Brandon   AAAs-BBQ-food_Brandon

Speaking of BBQ Sauce, Triple A’s Bbarbecue has Chef Chris’ own fine sauce recipes to create a taste delight with barbecue:

• Sweet Sauce: A perfect medley of Coca-Cola, brown sugar, vinegar, and our rub.
• Rooster Booster: Triple A’s Version of a South Carolina mustard based barbecue sauce. With just a touch of Tobasco to put the “zip in your doo-dah.”
• Red Sauce: A straight forward vinegar and tomato sauce with a touch of heat. Growing up, in Dickson, TN; this is what barbecue sauce was to me.
•Memphis in May: This is the sauce for the person that likes everything. It’s sweet, vinegary, and a little hot; just like Memphis barbecue.
• Hot Season Cider: Triple A’s version of a North Carolina apple cider vinegar based barbecue sauce. This sauce will make you sit up straight in your chair.
• Blue Cheese BBQ Sauce: It is a homemade Blue Cheese barbecue sauce. Any questions? When you add it to our brisket, there needs to be a moment of silence.

I recommend you taste them all.


You will make a good friend when you meet Chef Chris Haley because he is service Amazing Awesome Barbecue All Day.


The Old Country Store in Lorman, MS

Heading south on Hwy 61, Milton Chambliss drives to visit an icon of Mississippi culture, The Old Country Store in Lorman, MS.  We are driving through the country of southwest Mississippi where the geography is rolling hills and deep ravines covered with kudzu and pine trees; everything is still green this time of year.  The west side, toward the Mississippi River, of the modern divided Highway 61 holds an antique wooden structure with a covered boardwalk front porch.  Mr. Arthur Davis has been in this place for 20 years now and we have a great afternoon lined up to visit and find out all about this historic restaurant and gift shop.

Old Country Store storefront_Port Gibson

Blues Man McKinney Williams arrives in Lorman, MS for lunch

Blues Man McKinney Williams arrives in Lorman, MS for lunch with his guitar.


I think there is a chance Blues Man is hungry, but he agrees to pause for a moment while I try to get a descent picture.


The covered boardwalk porch will make great location for some front porch blues.

IMG_9787 IMG_9786 IMG_9785

The Chalkboard shows Mr. D’s Buffet show the prices, Thank You!!! and the hours are listed as 10 am to 4 pm Sunday thru Thursday and 10 am to 9 pm Friday and Saturday.


As I walk in to the dining room, a gentleman in a white apron comes down from the office space at the back and walks toward me and I immediately spoke up “You are the owner!  Mr. Arthur Davis himself!”  Arthur agrees with me and comes over and we shake hands and have our introductions.  I then point out Blues Man McKinney Williams, our 2015 Blues Artist of the Year and I continue to take photographs.  Milton and Mr. D are well acquainted, as this lunch stop seems to be getting onto Milton’s calendar regularly and they have become famous friends.

I look around the dining room and find nicely appointed tables with white table cloths and comfortable chairs.  Along the walls are shelves that hold an interesting collection of things.

IMG_9789  IMG_9792

Arthur tells me the building used to be a mercantile store, many, many years before he came along.

IMG_9791  IMG_9790

I’m not sure how much of the current inventory came with the store 20 years ago, or how it comes and goes now.

Later, while eating lunch, I mentioned to Blues Man that I saw a blue flower vase I needed and wanted to purchase, but since there was no price tag, wondered if these things for sale.  Blues Man commented that Arthur would probably sell you anything in there you wanted.

Blues Man is, of course, correct.


Arthur Davis moved to Mississippi 20 years ago from the State of Florida after taking his retirement from a career with Florida Power & Electric Company.  Somehow, this makes the presence of a marlin on the wall seems just normal, right?  Interior decor in Florida isn’t complete without a big game fish on the wall, just like in Alabama some deer antlers or a raccoon skin is completely appropriate decoration for any room or exterior treatment.


Blues Man McKinney Williams presents Arthur Davis a copy of “Big City Rhythm & Blues” magazine because the inside cover ad is Visit Mississippi by MDA Tourism Division with Arthur’s picture on it!  And a good picture it is, holding a platter of his famous “Mr. D’s” Fried Chicken.  Arthur recalled to day that the Touism folks came and took lots of photos and talked with him about The Old Country Store and his personal journey, many of the same things we want to learn.  Mr. Davis had not heard about the ad design or his photo being placed in a magazine until  today.  Ms. Peggy Brown, owner of Hit the Road Entertainment, passed this copy of “Big City Rhythm & Blues” magazine to Blues Man, his name is mentioned in her article there, several days before our trip to Lorman.  Blues Man showed me the article and when I looked through the rest of the magazine, I discovered Arthur’s photo.


Arthur Davis, Milton Chambliss and Blues Man McKinney Williams talked about Arthur’s place in history and the recognition he gets from all the folks that pass along Hwy 61 that stop and have lunch with him.  Arthur is an amazing character and often entertains his audience with songs.

IMG_9797  IMG_9799

So we take a few really good pictures and now it’s time to eat and tell stories.  Blues Man piles up Mr. D’s Famous Fried Chicken on a plate and can’t quit smiling.


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Arthur tells us that 20 years ago he was visiting Lorman, MS on the campus of Alcorn State University where his son was a student.  As he drove along Highway 61, he observed this beautiful building on the side of the road and pulled over to go inside.  It wasn’t long before Arthur was telling the owner of the building that we wanted to buy it and began asking about a price.  The mercantile store and building owner replied “Why don’t you just come on a get open for business and you can pay me a something as we go along.   Arthur Davis starting cooking fried chicken and having ribs and lunch and hasn’t stopped.  Now Arthur Davis is part of Mississippi, the owner of The Old Country Store.  He told me about the welcoming spirit of the people here, how they changed his name from Arthur to “Mr. D” and encouraged him with the lunch kitchen, to fill a need in the community.

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Blues Man and Arthur begin comparing notes, talking about all the people they know in the Port Gibson area.  Milton tells us the latest news about economic development efforts in Claiborne County.


I am concentrating on Fried Chicken, Sweet Potatos, and Black Eyed Peas!  This was after a crisp salad and some side dishes and before the second trip for ribs and things.


I enjoy dessert and the gentlemen each look ahead to the afternoon and we begin to say “So Long” to Arthur Davis.


Milton Chambliss takes up our itinerant conversation on the Civil War to stop at the site of a battle that envolved the US Colored Troops and his grandfather that served in those units that fought here.  Travel to Lorman, Mississippi and take a place in history that is rich and diverse, farm country of homesteads and little towns that become more colorful the longer we stay.