Varsity Grille, Ulta opening in mall

TUPELO – The owners of Old Venice Pizza in Tupelo have developed a new dining concept and are opening an “urban upscale” restaurant at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
Billed The Varsity Grille, the restaurant will not be a sports bar, said Michael Blankenship, one of the owners.
“We will have 18 flat-screen TVs, but it will have an upscale atmosphere that happens to have a lot of TVs,” he said.
The Varsity Grille will replace Ruby Tuesday, which closed unexpectedly last fall.
Meanwhile, across the hall, beauty products retailer Ulta is opening its first Mississippi store in the former FYE location.
Both newcomers are expected to open in the fall – Varsity on Oct. 1 and Ulta sometime before Thanksgiving.
Phil Purdom, senior vice president of development and mall leasing for mall owners David Hocker and Associates and RF Coffin Enterprises, said the additions “continues to show our commitment in making The Mall at Barnes Crossing a regional draw in Northeast Mississippi.”
In the past 18 months, as part of a $13 million mall renovation and expansion, several new retailers have been added, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Barnes amp& Noble and Coldwater Creek. Men’s clothing retailer Jos. A. Bank is scheduled to open in about six weeks.
“It’s wisely spent and well-spent money,” Purdom said.
The Varsity Grille will feature lighter fare, including salads, soup and sandwiches for lunch. For dinner, steaks, prime rib and other signature dishes will be available.
Blankenship, who along with Clyde Whitaker and Mike Greer will soon be running two restaurants in Tupelo, said Varsity is not related to any other restaurants with the name.
“This is our own concept, our own ideas in what we think will be a great addition to Tupelo,” he said. “It’s going to have an upscale feel but be very inviting, too.”
The restaurant, which will have a full-service bar, also will have a patio which will seat 52 diners.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal