A barbecue and blues joint that began as an idea between three college friends now has a location for each.
Brandon Atwell, Frankie Penn and Thomas Young opened Murky Waters Blues & BBQ in Gulfport in 2013. They added a location in Ocean Springs in 2014 and this year will head up U.S. 49 to Hattiesburg, where a new location will open on 1605 Hardy St.
Atwell posted photos of the new location on Monday on his Facebook page, along with the news that the newest location of the barbecue restaurant will open in the spring.
“After a few months of hard work and negotiations, I'm glad to finally announce we will be bringing the award-winning barbecue, blues music and atmosphere we have created with Murky Waters Blues & BBQ over the past four years to Hattiesburg, MS,” Atwell wrote.
Penn and Atwell say the target opening for the new restaurant is late spring, possibly mid-April.
“There’s not much work to be done in building,” Atwell said. “It operated as a restaurant before, so mainly it’s cosmetic work and making sure the equipment is to our specifications.”
So are there plans for any further expansion of the franchise?
“We’re three guys in our mid-20s and we love to work,” Atwell said. “We don’t see why there’s any reason why we can’t continue. We have a long-term plan.”
The Hattiesburg restaurant brings the employee pool to 60 to 70 employees, Atwell said. Plus, Murky Waters has added a commissary and catering facility in Long Beach to take the stress of catering orders off the restaurant kitchens.
Atwell, Penn and Young also are talking about one more location on the Coast, as well as looking at other areas — maybe even farther north than Hattiesburg.
“You’re talking to two Ole Miss alumni,” Atwell said. “Oxford would be ideal. But there are some real estate price issues there.
“But there is one location still we’re looking at on the Coast to expand to. Our success has come from having a good product, good barbecue and that we pay so much attention to the business side. We come from a business background, so we put as much work into that in the background as we do to our food and our product.”