Back Yard Burgers is returning to Gulfport, and it will be the first restaurant in the country with the brand's new, modern design.
The change in decor will be on the interior and exterior, said David McDougall, president and CEO of Back Yard Burgers.
"It's certainly more contemporary and modern-looking," he said. The redesign will include a new logo and signs, new menu boards, uniforms and packaging.
Along with the new look comes an outdoor seating area and a focus on ice cream treats, milk shakes and waffle cones.
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What won't change, he said, are the flame-grilled hamburgers, chicken and veggie burgers, fresh salads and other favorites on the menu.
"People love a great hamburger," McDougall said, "Ours do taste like those cooked in your own back yard."
Bridgforth Rutledge, who owns seven Back Yard Burgers restaurants in the Oxford, Jackson and Meridian areas, is the new owner of the Gulfport restaurant at U.S. 49 near Crossroads Center, the site of the old Back Yard Burgers.
Work on the transformation began about a week ago, said Ric Thornburg, chief operating officer and a partner in the company. The restaurant will be gutted down to the studs and rebuilt.
Every time he's been in South Mississippi, people ask when Back Yard Burgers is coming back, Thornburg said. The target date is early May for Gulfport, and he said they are looking at additional sites.
"We're targeting D'Iberville after this location," he said.
Cleveland, Miss., is the birthplace of Back Yard Burgers and next year is the 30th anniversary. The brand hit some hard times during the recession, and is starting to grow again, McDougall said. Today there are 26 company restaurants and 33 franchises owned by 16 franchisees.
With the new decor, "We certainly want to give a nod to the millenials," McDougall said, But he adds, "Our core has always been the baby boomers."
A grand opening celebration is planned when the Gulfport location is complete and McDougall said, "We're glad to be back."