Hancock County

Is Bay St. Louis picking on Dan Bs or trying to ‘get it right?’

The building department of the city of Bay St. Louis has stopped construction on Dan B. Murphy's Restaurant & Bar, the latest incarnation of the popular pre-Katrina Dan Bs owned by the Murphy family. The family had hoped to have the restaurant opened this week, but is now shooting for a holiday opening.
The building department of the city of Bay St. Louis has stopped construction on Dan B. Murphy's Restaurant & Bar, the latest incarnation of the popular pre-Katrina Dan Bs owned by the Murphy family. The family had hoped to have the restaurant opened this week, but is now shooting for a holiday opening. wmuller@sunherald.com

The Murphy family can’t seem to catch a break in trying to rebuild a popular family business on the beach, Dan Bs, known in its current incarnation as Dan B. Murphy’s Restaurant & Bar.

The city building department has twice shut down construction, noted photographer and family member Ken Murphy says. He thinks the city is picking on the Murphys because they sued — and won — when the secretary of state leased a portion of the property on the bay side of the seawall to the city for its marina.

A jury determined in August 2014 that the state owes the Murphys $644,000, plus more than $263,342 in legal fees and expenses. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has appealed the case to the Mississippi Supreme Court, with the clock ticking on interest the state will owe should the judgment stand. The city was not liable in the case.

Fast forward to August, when the Murphys held a groundbreaking to rebuild after losing the original building to Hurricane Katrina. The city’s building department has stopped work on the business not once, but twice.

The first stop-work order, on September 9, cited the project for failure to have stamped plans for a concrete floor in the three-story, prefabricated building. Murphy said the plans were stamped, just not on every page. At any rate, the issue was remedied by Sept. 27, which happened to be the same day the building department issued its second stop-work order, Murphy said.

“We just think they don’t like us,” Murphy said. “They’re mad at us for suing the city or something, or they’re just normally like this with everybody. Ridiculous. You’re supposed to help us, not hurt us.”

Building Official Charles Oliver is not talking. He referred calls to the city attorney Trent Favre, who said there is a little more to the story.

Initially, Favre said, a page that detailed the flooring system was missing from the plans. When the contractor found it in his vehicle while city and Murphy representatives were meeting, that problem was cleared up. Now, Favre said, the engineer who drew up the plans must inspect the metal framing to make sure it will hold concrete flooring.

The building department is “not making arbitrary and capricious decisions,” Favre said. “They’re definitely not making decisions based on who people are. This has nothing to do with individuals. We’re just trying to get it right.”

The Murphy family opened the original Dan Bs back in 1981. It was a popular waterfront bar. Ken Murphy’s brother, former Bay St. Louis Police Chief Ray Murphy, bought the business from his parents in 2004, then closed for renovations a year later. Katrina hit 90 days after the renovated restaurant and bar reopened, Ken Murphy said.

“If we weren’t made up of all military and police, we would have probably thrown in the towel years ago,” Ken Murphy said. “ We don’t believe in being pushed around and we’ll fight for whatever is right.”

People keep asking when the business will be open, Murphy said. He hopes to open the doors by December.

“Be patient,” he said “ We’re coming.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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