Once-popular Tupelo spot slated for demo

TUPELO – Say goodbye to the former home of The Trace Restaurant and Russell’s Beef House.
The one-story building at 3400 W. Main St., will be demolished because its owner can’t find a tenant. Betty Kinsey said no one wants lease the space as long as the dilapidated Trace Inn looms large beside it.
“It won’t rent with that motel back there,” Kinsey said, “and the city won’t do anything with it.”
The city approved a demolition permit Monday. The building will come down within two weeks, said a representative from James Hodges Construction, which was listed on the demolition permit.
The building began in the 1960s as The Trace Restaurant under Junior and Vernal Hancock, who also had owned the once-popular motel.
It then was sold to Minnesota-based Griffin Inns, which in turn sold it to Clyde Whitaker. The name had changed several times during that period: The Coach and Six, then 34 West, and finally Molly Gun.
Whitaker then leased it to businessman Dennis Russell, who opened Russell’s Beef House from 1992 to 2004.
Russell said he enjoyed the space, “but it became impossible to compete against all the other restaurants and businesses around the mall.”
Al Wallace IV also opened an upscale eatery at the location, but it too closed and has remained vacant ever since.
In the meantime, the motel deteriorated under the ownership of JSK Hospitality, a Tupelo-based company headed by India native Dinesh Choksi. It’s also now vacant and slated for demolition. But its bankrupt status means the city will incur the estimated $90,000 cost of tearing it down. Tupelo wants to acquire the property but has encountered difficulties doing so.
“We will consider other options and anticipate making a decision by mid-September,” said city attorney John Hill.
That’s too late for Kinsey.
“I’m done,” she said. “I don’t want to pay any more city taxes or insurance.”

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

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