By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Monday’s opening day for Smith. restaurant in downtown Corinth was the culmination of almost a year of preparation and anticipation.
Russell and Julia Smith were quite busy but not overwhelmed as they served from a menu unlike anything else available in town – catfish and collards with étoufée, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles.
Quite a different menu from Russell’s Beef House, the family restaurant where Smith has used his culinary skills the past seven years, the restaurant founded by his grandfather, Troy Russell.
Smith will continue working at the steak house along with his mother, Maury Sills, while he and his wife will work together at the downtown restaurant.
“The whole time at the steak house I’ve been looking for another project,” Smith said. “I wanted to bring something back to Corinth from other places I worked.”
While growing up Smith worked at the family business, which led him to say he never wanted to work in a restaurant again. He went to Northeast Mississippi Community College and on to Mississippi State University, where, in his own words, he spent more time partying than in class.
He wound up working at Harvey’s restaurant in Tupelo, where he discovered a love for cooking.
“Then I worked in the Starkville restaurant for four years,” he said. “When I really decided I wasn’t going back to school, my dad helped me get a job with John Currence at City Grocery in Oxford. I was there five years, working my way up to sous chef. Then I came back to Corinth in 2006.”
Maybe for him the restaurant business was inevitable. Russell Smith’s father is Paul Smith, who also owned a popular downtown Corinth restaurant, Cross City Grill, which closed several years ago.
“For months, I looked at every piece of property in this town before I found this one,” Smith said of the historical property on Fillmore Street that houses the restaurant. For many years it was home to Rankin Printery.
During the remodeling of the building, Smith created a downstairs dining room for about 100 guests, with a bar, another dining room and a room for private parties upstairs. He also added a balcony on the second floor.
Smith gives the credit for a great menu to his cousin, Joel Smith, a chef who worked for years in Franklin, Tenn. at restaurants that include 55 South, Cork & Cow and Red Pony.
“He’s done a great job with the menu, and we’ll also have some seasonal items and specials,” Smith said. “We’re working out the kinks and will be adding more things like a Saturday brunch as time goes on.”
• What: Fine dining restaurant; bar and grill
• Where: 603 N. Fillmore St., Corinth
• When: Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5-11 p.m.
• Serves: Appetizers, $6-10; salads, $5-8; sandwiches, $7-10; entrees, $12-25
• For more information: (662) 594-1925;