Busy Bee Suites renewal under way

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Doug Hudson’s Busy Bee Suites won’t be the only major rework the downtown building will receive. 

A new interior design studio and art gallery by Jenny Dabbs will occupy most of the first floor including where the historic Busy Bee Cafe was in the back. 

The Busy Bee was where Marty Stuart drew early inspiration, where he first experienced the Blues and watched people get paid to perform. It was there that he was inspired to become a singer himself. 

On Dec. 6, he and his wife country music singer Connie Smith flipped the switch to turn on the sign to Hudson’s Busy Bee Suites in the northwest corner of Beacon Street and Church Avenue.

The second floor is home to the Busy Bee Suites and the interior design studio will occupy the fist floor behind the Steak House lobby facade.

The entrance to the design studio will be the old Busy Bee entrance on Church.

Hudson, real estate investor and past restauranteur, grew up in Vicksburg and now lives in Miami, Florida. He started his career in the hotel business working for hotel developers, and then got into the restaurant business for a number of years before he entered the world of real estate. 

“I’m no stranger to Neshoba or Philadelphia,” Hudson said. “I was familiar with the area, since my friends and I would often go to the Neshoba County Fair.”

Hudson said he and Marty Stuart met about 10 years ago when he crossed paths with the singer thanks to both of them being avid collectors. 

Stuart was interested in some of Hudson’s collector’s items to add to the Congress of Country Music he’s developing here, such as a wardrobe full of clothes and other things belonging to singer and songwriter Loretta Lynn.

It was nothing but a stroke of luck in October 2017 for Hudson when he came to Philadelphia looking for a building to purchase and build his apartments. 

“There just couldn’t be a better building that fits mine and Marty’s vision better,” he said. “I truly believe it was meant to be, especially since that was the first time the building had been on the market in decades.”

Hudson said that the apartment planning began in May 2018, and construction started in June of that same year. 

The apartments were completed in early January 2019 and were rented out very quickly. He said Stuart was with him the entire way through, and kept a promise to guide him through the process. 

Hudson is very proud of this building and says it’s successful and turned out to be everything he wanted and more. He’s very honored, thankful, and grateful for the people of Philadelphia opening their arms and welcoming him to the area.

“Having Marty and his wife Connie, two honorable Hall of Fame singers, turn on the sign to the building that has my apartments in it was incredible,” he said.

Hudson is considering more apartments in the future and is keeping an eye out for more properties that might pop up in Philadelphia since his three of four Busy Bee apartments are currently occupied, the fourth being Hudson’s personal suite. 

Jenny Dabbs met Hudson at The Neshoba County Fair about four years ago and they became fast friends 

Her home design business, J. Dabbs Designs, began in 2012 after she ran The Potting Shed, a gift shop she opened in 2005.  

“I’m renovating the cafe space into an interior design studio and art gallery, and I’m planning on using the original windows and original ceilings of the building,” Dabbs said. 

She started demolition this month. “I’ll do whatever it takes to restore this building to its former glory, no matter the cost,” she said.

Dabbs is married to Dr. Andy Dabbs and they have two children, Grace and Henry. Grace is currently a senior at Samford University, and Henry is a junior at Leake Academy.

She hopes to have the renovations done in early 2021. “I look forward to doing my work in a proper studio, and doing this project is going to greatly benefit this town,” she said. “It’s great to me and an awesome opportunity. I also plan to make a replica of the original Busy Bee Cafe sign to show off in my studio.”

For more information about the Busy Bee Suites, contact Tim Moore at the Community Development Partnership, 601-656-1000, or Dabbs at 601-575-4800 for questions about the studio.


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