ABBEVILLE – Yocona River Inn is about to be back in business.
The quaint Lafayette County restaurant, regionally recognized for a combination of culinary curiosity and antique ambience, burned in March. A new location, in the former Ruth & Jimmie’s in downtown Abbeville, will host an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, with regular hours beginning Wednesday.
Owner-chef Paige Osborn said she is relieved finally to be back in business after months of renovations that improved the structure and adapted it as a home for her upscale cuisine.
“It’s been interesting, because I’ve never had to work with all these construction professionals,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Already saddled with the tongue-in-cheek name “Yocona in Exile,” Yocona River Inn’s new location is situated across from the Bank of Abbeville at the four-way stop that defines downtown. With both restaurants having been converted from country stores, the new building bears an uncanny resemblance to the original – tin roof, front porch and all.
“The kitchen is smaller, and we won’t have as much equipment,” Osborn said. “We seated 70 people in the old building without adding chairs, and in this one, if my calculations are right, we’ll seat 60 people.”
If the old pattern holds true, those waiting on a table will congregate on the front porch, with some enjoying a sip of the wine that many brown-bag to go with Yocona River Inn’s eponymous steak, a unique catfish Creole and other house specialties.
“The menu is pretty much the same; there’s just a little bit less on it,” Osborn said. “In the past we always had eight entrees, and now I think we’ll probably be down to about six.”
While insurance and financing issues temporarily siderailed the reconstruction of Yocona River Inn’s original location in southeast Lafayette County, Osborn is not giving up on that dream.
“I’ve got to get dinner running smoothly, but eventually I’d like to add lunch,” she said. “Right now my plan is to rebuild Yocona and keep the Abbeville location for lunches.”
MORE DETAILS: Yocona River Inn’s open house will be 5-7 p.m. Sunday. To find it, take Mississippi Highway 7 north from Oxford and turn at any of the three roads that lead to Abbeville. Yocona River Inn is at the four-way stop in downtown Abbeville.
Regular hours will be 5-9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and 5-10 Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will be closed on New Year’s Day.
For more information, call (662) 234-2464 or visit www.yocona.com.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal