If you live in Pascagoula, you know Scranton’s Restaurant is in the middle of a major makeover right now.
The downstairs dining area, well-known for historic flair and imagery, is still keeping that same vibe but is transforming into a fast-casual concept. Order from the counter and have a meal served within 15 minutes or take a “grab and go” meal from a display case of Scranton’s classics to eat at home later. Owner Richard Chenoweth would prefer you do both, actually. “Come eat for lunch, and take home dinner” is actually how he put it.
That’s just downstairs, though.
The upstairs is a whole different story and a sign of what’s to come for downtowns like Pascagoula’s that are working hard to attract businesses and residents.
Richard Chenoweth has been busy over the last few months using Covid-19 downtime to convert his restaurant’s upstairs banquet hall into four apartments to bring residents right into the middle of downtown.
The concept of mixed-use development, with its blending of residential and commercial and cultural, is fairly new to see implemented in Pascagoula, but it’s not a new concept altogether for the waterfront city. These are the kinds of mixed-use projects that agencies like the Pascagoula Redevelopment Authority, as well as local politicians and business leaders, have been pursuing for the last 8 years.
“The whole community’s coming together to make this downtown viable,” Richard Chenoweth said.
Offering apartments downtown automatically brings new customers to that part of town and creates demand for more goods and services, said Amy Chenoweth, the restaurant’s marketing director. More businesses open to serve these new customers, and that adds to the quality of life for the whole community.
Pascagoula is good at bringing in the workers, Amy Chenoweth said, and now it’s time to bring in more people who want to call the city their home.
“It is very important to get people downtown, and the first step to getting people downtown is getting people to live downtown,” Amy Chenoweth said.
Jackson Pickett, manager of Scranton’s, said the city has been “trying to rebuild itself” over the last 15 years since Hurricane Katrina.
“It is such a great town and community,” Pickett said. “It’s just about trying to get people my age, from the 21s to the 50s, to want to settle down here and reinvest in the community.”
Richard Chenoweth believes downtown will look completely different in the next five to seven years.
“People need to look at us again, go deeper, and find out that it’s not as negative as they think it is,” he said.