Union Station opens for business

The long-awaited opening of the new restaurant Union Station is now over. In space formerly occupied by Safari’s and Cypress Grill, this casual/fine dining restaurant offers a variety of menu choices ranging from daily lunch specials to ribeye steak, to pulled pork and barbecue ribs.

Opening day was Wednesday and approximately 120 people showed up to check out the newly renovated restaurant and new food. Susan Rainwater is the general manager of Union Station with managers Keith Robertson, Angie Barder and Terry Young.

According to Young, who is Rainwater’s son, “There was a little confusion on opening day, but this restaurant is brand new and we are still trying to work out some kinks.”

The building has been vacant for one year and three months and will be offering meeting rooms again, similar to the ones that were at Cypress Grill. The capacity of the entire restaurant is 267, including the three meeting rooms. Each room will hold 40 people and one room can be opened big enough to seat 80 people. If someone books a meeting room, the group will have their own waiter or waitress and can order off the regular menu or have their food catered.

Young said, “We encourage groups, clubs, and organizations to come and book a room and hold their meetings at the restaurant.”

Leslie Gray of Gray and Company was the graphic artist for Union Station and designed the menus and the indoor and outdoor signs for the restaurant.

 Kevin Hinton of Bankhead Flower Shop was the flower decorator and Carolyn Self and Debbie Cherry were additional interior decorators for the inside of the restaurant. Young of Matco Properties, LLC, did the construction work.

Inside of the restaurant, there are plenty of booths, tables and chairs, brick walls, and old family photos of Rainwater’s family and old photos of New Albany as well. The photos were provided to the restaurant by family members, private sponsors, the Union County Heritage Museum, and the Union County Historical Society.

Even though there are a few more restaurants in town that offer catering or similar food items, Young said that there are things that make Union Station unique.

Young said, “One of the things that makes this restaurant unique is that we have a chef and a sous chef that both went to culinary school. Chef Benji Perkins attended the Arizona Culinary Institute and Sous Chef John Cusinelli went to culinary school at Mississippi University for Women.”

Young also said that all of the sides, comeback sauce, and desserts are made homemade and made fresh daily.

He also mentioned that there is a catering menu, customers can cater in-house or on-site, and there is the option for complete delivery setup and service. Also, there is an express window option available where customers can order at the express window using the Union Express menu without the need to call in beforehand.

Union Station plans to set up and serve barbecue at the 2010 Freedom Festival and 2010 Tallahatchie Riverfest.

Young said that Union Station is more casual than fine dining and tries to give patrons more of a personal touch.

“Another thing that is different is that the Union Station culinary staff makes their own barbecue rub and barbecue sauce. The culinary staff cooks all of the ribs and Boston Butt in an on-site stainless steel smoker. All of the ribs are smoked for approximately 3 ½ hours and the Boston Butt (pulled pork) is smoked for 14 hours,” said Young.

Daily specials offered six days a week and a buffet is available on Sundays for lunch. Union Station is located next to Lowe’s Home Improvement at 650 Park Plaza Drive. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday through Saturday, 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.