Keg and Barrel west looks to October openingBy HASKEL BURNS,
With its wide selection of beers and pub-fared food menu, the Keg and Barrel has been a Hattiesburg hotspot since founder John Neal opened the establishment in 2005.
Thirteen years later, the pub is expanding its presence to west Hattiesburg, with a second location set to open in October at the former Willy T’s Sports Grill location on Market Place Drive near Turtle Creek Mall.
“We just kind of felt like there was a need for something similar to the concept of Keg and Barrel out west, and we saw an opportunity,” said Jim Thompson, investment partner in the business. “The main thing we wanted to do was to replicate the ambiance and what makes Keg and Barrel so unique in that (west) location … and still have the same thing that people really like.
“We felt like with Hattiesburg’s growth, with so many things moving west and getting closer and closer to Columbia, we knew that there was a very large, untapped market out there that people were interested in having. After doing a little bit of market survey, we felt that it was a good move because all the demographic that we look for is out in that area. So we’re pretty pumped and positive about it.”
The second Keg and Barrel location will offer the same food menu as the Hardy Street location, with items like fish tacos, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, burgers and K&B Rueben sandwiches. The beer selection also will remain mostly the same as the original location – which features more than 60 beers from around the world on tap as well as a wide selection of bottled beer and liquor – with the possibility of a few small changes to cater to the market.
“Certain things work in certain areas,” Thompson said. “So we’re going to start out with predominantly the same beers that are available (at the original location), with a heavy draft load.
“As it moves along, we’ll focus on what works, and we’ll move on to the next thing with what doesn’t.”
The venue also will offer live music and outdoor seating, with more than 2,000 square feet of space on the outside patio.
“It’s a huge, huge patio, set up the same style as the original Keg and Barrel,” Thompson said. “And then there is a little nook area where we will feature live entertainment from time to time from local artists.”
So far, about 80 percent of the exterior work on the building has been completed, along with about 30 percent of the interior work finished. In addition, the kitchen is almost done, with Keg and Barrel staff waiting for additional equipment to arrive.
“We’re extremely excited, and we’re extremely honored and blessed to know that we’ve had such a big support from Hattiesburg as a whole throughout the years,” Thompson said. “We’re looking forward to even more support and a new fan base, if you will – a new clientele – to bring them everything that Keg and Barrel is. We feel like we’re rounding Turn 3, and we’re ready.”