Lenard Ingram will open his 425 Blues Café on Monday in the building which formerly housed The Carousel. Ingram said the building renovation was a “labor of love” which took more than a year to complete. Live bands will perform on the weekends.
Lenard Ingram will open his 425 Blues Café on Monday in the building which formerly housed The Carousel. Ingram said the building renovation was a “labor of love” which took more than a year to complete. Live bands will perform on the weekends.
After more than a year of renovations and preparations, 424 Blues Café is set to open Monday with a Chicago-style menu and live music on the weekends.

"It's been a labor of love," owner Lenard Ingram said. "We've been working over a year on it, when at first we thought it would take six to nine months."

The restaurant will open every day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch Monday through Saturday.

Bands will perform live on stage on Fridays and Saturdays from around 9 p.m. to midnight.

The opening weekend will feature the Jarekus Singleton Band from Jackson.

Singleton, 29, is one of Mississippi's younger Blues guitarists. He and his band perform regularly around the Central Mississippi area. He performed at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2013. He and his band competed in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and came away with rave reviews. He was chosen as Blues Artist of the Year for the 2012 Jackson Music Awards and Artist of the Year for 2013.

Ingram's initial plans call for live music on Friday and Saturday nights but the "ultimate goal" is to have music six or seven days a week.

Mayor James A. Young said the new restaurant will be a great asset to downtown Philadelphia.

"I think it is going to be a great asset, having something downtown that draws people for relaxation and entertainment," Young said.

"We definitely need that avenue in our city. This is one more piece in the puzzle which makes us stand out from cities our size. We do appreciate the owners for venturing out and bringing new visitors to our city, especially to downtown."

Young said other downtown merchants would benefit from the new restaurant.

"'When they are promoting the Blues entertainment in the area, I think some of the other businesses will reap some of the benefits by people coming to visit. It's going to draw people to Philadelphia who will spend money somewhere else also."

Ingram also hopes to bring in big name artists at least once every quarter to entertain at the restaurant.

"There will be a cover charge to enter whenever the bands start up," Ingram said, noting that the amount would depend on the band.

Food will be prepared by chefs Vivian and Wayne Davis, formerly of Chicago and now of Preston.

The couple has numerous relatives in Kemper County, Ingram said.

The menu will feature a number of Chicago-style dishes including polish sausage and pork chop sandwiches.

"It's Chicago-style with a Southern kick," Ingram said, noting the chefs came up with the menu.

The café will seat over 100 with tables, booths and a lengthy bar. There will also be an area where such things as coffee cups and T-shirts are sold.

Patrons will also have an opportunity to watch football games and other sporting events on the large screen television near the entrance of the restaurant.

The interior of the Blues Cafe is decorated with Blues memorabilia, including items from Neshoba County native Marty Stuart and local Blues legend Otis Rush, who has an entire area dedicated to him.

"The goal is to capitalize on the Blues tourism of places like Clarksdale and Greenville," Ingram said. "People come from all over the world to visit these places."

Renovation of the building, which most recently housed The Carousel, started in 2012. The building was originally home to Oliphant Furniture.

Ingram said the opportunity and time gelled together to make the Blues Cafe a reality.

"It's been my dream to provide entertainment to the people of Neshoba County," he said.

However, the main reason for opening the business is to bring the Blues closer to Neshoba County, Ingram said.

"We needed something close instead of going off to Jackson or Memphis," he said.

Neshoba County's Blues history is not as advertised as it should, Ingram said, noting that Blues is popular worldwide.

The owner is pleased with how the café has turned out.

"We're excited," he said. "Everything is going to be good."

For more information on the 424 Blues Café go to facebook.com/424BluesCafe.