Gloria Neames, Peter Trosclair

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2006

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The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ &045; Sitting behind the counter at the Malt Shop is like pulling up a stool to view the filmstrip of Natchez history.

And new owner Gloria Neames has the best seat in the house.

&uot;I have heard the most interesting stories,&uot; Neames said. &uot;People have told me they have been coming here since they couldn’t reach the counter. Couples have courted here.&uot;

The ice cream shop on Homochitto Street has been a Natchez fixture for around 50 years, and despite ownership changes, remains much like the original.

Neames and Peter Trosclair bought the business in October when former owner James Ellis gave it up. Neames and Trosclair also own Biscuits and Blues.

&uot;We’ve tried to keep the Malt Shop, the Malt Shop,&uot; Neames said. &uot;The changes we’ve made are cosmetic changes. It’s the same employees and the same food.&uot;

Eight months into the new branch of food service, Neames said business is good, but different. In addition to Neames, five other employees do the cooking, cleaning and serving.

&uot;This is a totally different aspect of the food business,&uot; she said. &uot;The parking lot can be totally empty and in two minutes it’s totally full. It gets hectic around here, but it’s a good hectic.

&uot;They are both unique in their own right. Biscuits and Blues seems more laid back. At the Malt Shop, when you are busy, you are busy.&uot;

Neames said she’s at the Malt Shop every day, including weekends.

So far, cosmetic changes to the 600 square foot building include rearranged equipment inside to improve movement, the addition of an air conditioner and an upcoming paint job.

&uot;We have come a long way,&uot; she said. &uot;On the front end we had a lot of costs. Every time you paint or move things it costs money. But hopefully we are over the initial expense.

&uot;I think it has great potential.&uot;

A former banker originally from Louisiana, Neames came to Natchez to help with Biscuits and Blues and has since decided to stick with the food business.

She said having a business partner helps make a hectic job a little easier.

&uot;His strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are his weaknesses,&uot; she said of Trosclair. &uot;I’m more detailed oriented, and if a piece of equipment breaks he is just awesome. It’s going really well for us.&uot;