Celebrity chef, Kelly English, visited the coast Wednesday to preview his newest restaurant, the Magnolia House. This is English's newest venture as part of the Grand Casino upgrade. The new restaurant will focus on authentic southern cuisine in a comfortable fine dining environment. There will be several different rooms within the restaurant so diners have the option of letting loose in the wine cellar or sipping a drink while overlooking the Gulf. English is planning to scout out local fishermen, farmers, and gamers so that his dishes will come straight from the Coast. Chef English says, “It’s gonna’ tell the story of where we are, and we're going to do that through local foods, finding the small guy and supporting him in the restaurant, and we're really trying to break the mold of what a casino restaurant can and should be.”
English also plans on hiring local talent for his kitchen. This restaurant will churn out a variety of seasonal options. The Magnolia House restaurant will be located just off of the hotel lobby entrance so that local foodies can easily come to dine without having to walk through the casino. The restaurant will also be smoke free. Now, the Magnolia house restaurant is just one part of the expansive Grand Casino renovations. The casino is rebranding itself as Harrah's Gulf Coast while construction continues. The Grand Casino is continuing their face lift that started last month. Crews are now tearing apart the pool deck and building the Magnolia House restaurant. Once the restaurant opens in May, the lobby and casino will also get an upgrade. Kennedy Smith, the Vice President of Marketing at the Grand Casino, says, "It’s going to be totally reconfigured. We've introduced a lot of new games already. We'll be introducing some more, but it will look very different than what you might have seen of it. All new carpeting, all new lighting, new walls, new column wraps."
The final stages will be renovating the hotel and tearing down old concrete structures across the street that have been eyesores for years. Smith also says, "All 500 of our rooms are being touched up and upgraded, but we're actually spending a lot of time and effort on our 40 suites as well as our 90 south-facing rooms." The pool deck at the Grand Casino is just one of the many areas to undergo major renovations. Once the area north of Highway 90 is completed in the beginning of the summer, and the area south of Highway 90 is completed mid-summer, people on the pool deck will have a great view of the Gulf. Smith also says, "Obviously we've got a lot of casinos right here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the name of the game is to say, ‘What can we offer that's a little different than what we're able to do?’" One major difference that Harrah's Gulf Coast will offer is the outdoor arena and boardwalk across the street. The 10 acres will have space for performances, lounging, and walking along the water.
The total cost of the project is adding up, but the Grand believes it’s worth it. Smith closes, "So currently, we're still counting the dollars. It's a lot, but we're excited to make this type of investment into this market. We believe in it, and it’s going to work out well." The construction of the casino, restaurants, and hotel will continue in phases until its completion in the beginning of the summer, with the outdoor arena to follow shortly after.