The University of Mississippi campus is now home to McCormick’s, a pub located inside the Inn at Ole Miss.
Written by Eileen Bailey | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Nearly five years of planning and work have paid off with the opening last fall of McCormick’s Bar and Grill at The Inn at Ole Miss. The showpiece of the restaurant will be a bar top built by HGTV star and Ole Miss alumnus Ben Napier.
Kirk Purdom, executive director for the Ole Miss Alumni Association, said opening a bar, the only one located on the campus of a public university in Mississippi, expands the services offered to alumni and others who stay at The Inn. Before it could even happen, Purdom said, the hotel had to be granted resort status, which was given recently by the state of Mississippi.
“The one thing that we needed to be a full-service hotel was a bar,” he said.
Gay Bukur, general manager for The Inn at Ole Miss, said McCormick’s was named for David and Susan McCormick, both alumni of Ole Miss. The couple’s contribution was used to sponsor McCormick’s when it was a breakfast restaurant. Bukur said the restaurant and bar, like the hotel, is open to the public.
McCormick’s is a full-service restaurant that serves American cuisine similar to a pub, she said. In addition regular breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items, they offer specials.
The highly anticipated bar top will be made by Napier, who with his wife, Erin, co-stars in the HGTV series “Hometown.” The husband-wife duo, both graduates of Ole Miss, renovates homes in Laurel. Purdom said he met Napier through various alumni events.
“(I thought) he would love to do it,” Purdom said. “They are both such nice people. He was excited to contribute to the project.”
Napier is a woodworker, who often uses reclaimed materials in the projects he takes on in his Laurel shop.
“I thought it would be neat if he built a bar top that came from trees in the Grove that had been knocked over in storms,” Purdom said.
So, the crew that handles the care of the trees in the Grove cut several downed trees into 18-foot-long slabs, which were sent to Napier in Laurel, where he is building the bar. Napier, who is currently filming the fifth season of “Hometown,” recently visited campus, and the bar top is expected to be completed soon. Napier said his love for Ole Miss led to his working on the project.
“Building something for your alma mater is a dream for anyone,” he said. “The fact that I met my wife at the University of Mississippi, that I proposed to my wife while there, that we got married on campus, that we graduated together makes it even more special.”
Wood floors, warm, dark wooden paneling and bright pressed tin on the ceiling are all new features of McCormick’s, which once served as the breakfast area for guests at the inn. A long bank of floor-to-ceiling windows allows light to showcase the bar’s new look. Several televisions allow guests to watch sporting events. Tables occupy an open space, allowing guests to spread out.
“We wanted it to be a comfortable place with a pub feel,” Purdom said.
Since its fall opening, Purdom said, the restaurant has seen a steady stream of visitors, especially for breakfast and lunch. “Everything looks great, and we are happy with how it turned out,” he said. “The food is really good.”
Since it opened, it has followed CDC guidelines for capacity. They were even able to host an event in the fall with about 30 people. “It went really well,” Purdom said.
The staff is now working on how to offer pickup parking spaces to expand their ability to offer to-go orders. Also in the works is the possible expansion of outdoor seating and tables.
Purdom said he could not be happier with the atmosphere and look of McCormick’s. What he loves the most is how the Edison lights, combined with the outside view through the bank of windows, just make it shine.
Breakfast and lunch are offered every day. Purdom said some of McCormick’s breakfast favorites include French toast and omelets. Lunch offerings that seem to be popular are quesadillas, wings, burgers and fish and chips. Dinner is offered on the weekends. Providing evening meals during the week depends on the number of people staying at The Inn.
Turnout during football season was good as people came to watch the game on the screens inside McCormick’s, he said. Despite the limitations required in recent months, Purdom said, McCormick’s has done well. Additional plans are in the works for the future.
McCormick’s was designed by JBHM Architects of Tupelo and Jackson. JBHM also designed the South Campus Recreation Center, which opened last fall.
The Inn at Ole Miss offers a variety of services for all types of events, including conferences and weddings, and also offers their own catering services. Learn more at theinnatolemiss.com.