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Landing in a new spot

Eric J. Shelton | The Natchez Democrat — Pat McDaniel is opening a new restaurant, Natchez Landing, Under-the-Hill.

NATCHEZ — The resurrection of a Natchez landmark is scheduled for next month, and with its second chance at life comes lots of preparation.

The sounds of men at work can be heard drifting up Silver Street to the new location of the Natchez Landing restaurant Under-the-Hill.

Pat McDaniel, the owner of Natchez Landing, said the restaurant will open for business sometime in the middle to last week of April.

The original Natchez Landing opened Under-the-Hill in 1981 under the ownership of Charles and Guy Bass.

“My wife’s parents, Troyce and Linda Guice, bought the Natchez Landing in 1987,” McDaniel said. “They operated Natchez Landing until 1999 when they retired. We are just resurrecting it. It was a very popular place back then.”

A view of Natchez Landing’s new location on Silver Street.

McDaniel said he worked at the Natchez Landing for two years before he opened Magnolia Grill, a restaurant he operated for 20 years., selling it in Feb. 2010.

McDaniel said the original site of the Magnolia Grill is what will be the bar and kitchen area at the new Natchez Landing.

“So I guess I’ve come full-circle,” McDaniel said. “It’s going to be done right. No stones left unturned.”

Barrett Nobile and the Biglane family of Natchez own properties Under-the-Hill, and are leasing the location to McDaniel.

McDaniel said he is glad to have a top brick mason, Duncan Morgan, on the site.

“The Biglane family only uses him because he’s the best,” McDaniel said. “The biggest challenge of the restoration was taken care of for me by Barrett Nobile and the Biglane family,” McDaniel said. “This project could not be done without them. They want to develop this more and more, and are going to major expense making Natchez a drawing area, like a small Beale Street of French Quarter Under-the-Hill.”

When it comes to the menu, McDaniel said he is sticking to crowd favorites from the original Natchez Landing, barbecue and catfish.

Patrons who choose to sit on the front porch or main dining room can enjoy a stunning view of the river. Diners, or drinkers, can hug up to the cozy bar or enjoy a New Orleans style courtyard. Two separate dining rooms can be used for private parties and corporate functions, fully equipped with multimedia capabilities like computer hookups, projectors and screens.

“And we will have TVs everywhere for the sports end of it,” McDaniel said. “We will set up a flatscreen TV in the courtyard so people can sit outside in the fall and watch football.”

McDaniel, who recently sold his custom-framing business to David and Gina Cauthen, said he’s looking forward to getting back into the restaurant scene again.

Carlman Lang of Duncan Morgan Construction helps restore the inside of Natchez Landing Wednesday morning.

“I got out of it and missed it,” McDaniel said. “I missed seeing the people and employees every day. When you get away from the business you gain a greater respect for all they do. Employees are really bigger than the business.”

McDaniel said hiring restaurant staff will create 20 to 25 new jobs.

Gene Laird Construction Company is carrying out the remodel.

The location has been a dress shop, John Martin’s restaurant and Farraday’s restaurant.

McDaniel said he is thankful to the public, and he can’t wait for Natchez Landing to open.

“The community was very good to me when I had Magnolia Grill,” McDaniel said. “I look forward to serving them again.”

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