By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – After more than two years of planning, and some stops and starts along the way, a Mugshots Grill & Bar will open in Tupelo next spring.
Officials with the gourmet burger chain, joined by city and county leaders and other guests, broke ground on the 7,800-square-foot restaurant Friday morning.
It will be built in the Fairpark District of downtown Tupelo, on the corner of Main and Monaghan streets.
The building is adjacent to the Renasant Center for IDEAs and is across the street from the Hilton Garden Inn.
“We’re hoping to open by March or April of next year,” said Johnny Robbins, the franchise owner of the Tupelo location.
The restaurant will seat about 210 people, with outside seating for about 60.
Robbins anticipates employing 60-65 people, with hiring to start a few weeks before opening.
The project has been in the works for more than two years, and Robbins was the first franchise granted by Mugshots, said company co-founder Chris McDonald.
“We had five restaurants at the time,” he said. Mugshots, which first opened in Hattiesburg 10 years ago, now has 11 restaurants.
The company’s 12th location will open in Auburn, Alabama, later this year. Tupelo will be the company’s 13th location.
And it has some special meaning for McDonald and his business partners, several of whom also attended Friday’s ceremony.
“Johnny was the first franchise for us to give,” McDonald said. “We’ve always had an eye on Tupelo, and we felt this was the right time with all the growth that’s going on here.”
Robbins said Mugshots was the ideal restaurant to develop, and had been looking to bring something different to the area.
“I ate at the Mugshots in Starkville and I knew it was the right concept,” he said.
To give attendees a taste of what to expect, the company gave away 100 box lunches at the groundbreaking ceremony, with burgers cooked at the Starkville Mugshots.