TUPELO – Romie’s Grocery, which also has a catering business, will handle catering services at the BancorpSouth Conference Center for the next two years.
In January, the BancorpSouth Arena took over management of the conference center, which is sandwiched between the Arena and the Hilton Garden Inn.
Master Hospitality, which owns the Hilton, previously ran the center’s operations.
Arena director Todd Hunt said Romie’s was one of three finalists for the catering contract.
Joshua Simpson, who had been the executive chef at the Hilton before the position was eliminated, had handled catering for the conference center while the Arena sought a long-term contract.
“We think we can generate $500,000 to $750,000 in catering sales,” Hunt said.
Catering services will extend to groups of all sizes, and Hunt said.
The Arena wants to bring more and larger groups to the conference center, and having a well-known and popular caterer will be a major drawing card, he said.
“It was a very competitive bid process” in choosing the winning bid, Hunt said. “We looked at the menu options, but food wasn’t the only consideration. We looked at their reputations as well. … we looked at a several factors.”
Earlier this week, Rob Leslie, who owns Romie’s Grocery, said he closed his Romie’s Barbecue restaurant in downtown Tupelo last weekend so he could concentrate more on his catering business. Romie’s Grocery, on West Jackson Street, remains open.