Restaurant is first tenant of U.S. 61 development

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 2, 2011

NATCHEZ — The first loads of dirt are moving on what could be the next area of development in Adams County.

Sonny Lees, along with sons Jason and Brian Lees, have started working on one lot of U.S. 61 South to build a new steak and seafood restaurant, Roux 61.

The Lees trio already owns several Sonny’s Pizza locations and have been working for several years to open a seafood restaurant, Jason Lees said.

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“It is very exciting,” Jason Lees said. “This is really our dream and what we’ve been waiting to do for a long time.

“A lot of hard work has been put in to get to where we are now.”

Right now work is being done to prepare the lot for construction that should begin in the next 30 to 45 days, Lees said. He expects to have the doors opened on the restaurant by the summer.

The restaurant is the first business to go into The Hedges development, said Glenn Green of Paul Green & Associates, who owns the land with Edgin Construction owner Ricky Edgin.

“(Our office has) been working with Sonny on looking for a spot and looked at numerous spots all around town,” Green said. “It turned out that the land on 61 worked great for what they are wanting to do.”

The Lees men purchased 2.5 acres for the restaurant.

The restaurant will be a traditional seafood house serving fresh, seasonal seafood, Lees said.

“It’s going to look and feel like a seafood house,” he said. “We are in the process of finalizing the design but have talked about a lot of old wood and bringing out a rustic quality that is very casual and comfortable.”

The menu will consist of a raw oyster bar, seasonal boils including shrimp and crab boils and other seafood and steak and seafood items.

The developers don’t currently operate any seafood restaurants, but do have experience with this type of food.

“Putting out good food is what we have a passion for,” Jason Lees said. “The food we will be serving in the restaurant is the type of food we are cooking at our houses when we aren’t working.”

Jason Lees said they are excited about the location because while there is plenty of traffic passing by, the lot also has a secluded feel that will add to the ambiance of the restaurant once it is open.

“It is a unique location,” he said.

Green hopes this one building will jump-start development on U.S. 61 South. Three lots remain on the plot on the east side of the highway where the restaurant will be located and others in the area to be developed, Green said.

The lots are located just outside the city limits of Natchez and have access to utilities, Green said.

And once that area on the east side is full, Green said there is still more land available in what he hopes will be the next big area of development for Adams County.

“We are in the process of leveling up additional property in the area on the west side of the road,” Green said. “And once we get most of the area near Firetower Road full, we plan on coming into the new city limits.”

The land was annexed by the city in October 2009.

Green said there is a master plan in place for the development but nothing is on a strict timeline.

“This will be a gradual, organic type growth based on the demand of the market,” he said.