Video: ‘Forklift’ Opening Sparks More Interest In W. Jackson Revitilization Efforts
TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) –
Kelly Scott and Briana Franks were at the front of the line when “Forklift” opened the doors for its first day of business.
“We decided to get here early because we knew there would be a line to get in and we wanted to be the first customers,” Scott said.
They were not disappointed with the food on this inaugural day of business.
“I ordered a lot of things, I had the smoked chicken on biscuit, bruschetta as an appetizer, and we also had the pig and melon,” Scott said.
“I got meatloaf on a biscuit with tomato gravy and it’s fantastic,” Franks said.
That’s exactly what owner and chef David Leathers wants to hear. “Forklift” has been a dream for more than two years.
Leathers and his partners chose the location, at West Jackson Street and Clayton Avenue, when the site was home to an abandoned, dilapidated apartment complex. The non profit, Neighborhood Development Corporation, acquired the property, selling it to Leathers and his backers.
As construction on Forklift progressed, anticipation from the public increased. Leathers believes the area is primed for revitilization.
“This corner alone, I mean, I’m sitting here, on days prepping and watching people walk past here, not on the sidewalk but walk, on our little courtyard, so it’s unvelievable the movement now we see in front of our restaurant that years ago we probably would never have seen that movement or recreation,” Leathers said.
A few blocks west of Forklift the city has completed work on a residential street, crews are now working on underground utilities and soon, lots will be ready for private developers.
Mayor Jason Shelton says public and private partnerships will continue to transform the area.
“Business owners and entrepreneurs like David Leathers here, William Heard of Daddy’s Duck, all hands on deck to make this part of the city of Tupelo a great part of the city of Tupelo,” Shelton said.
Leathers says he is overwhelmed by the response on this first day and the restaurant’s role in energizing the area.
“It’s been very humbling,” Leathers said.
Leathers says developers have already expressed interest in purchasing property behind “Forklift”