Business down for Hattiesburg restaurant near construction

Business down for Hattiesburg restaurant near construction
Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Hattiesburg business is taking a hit while construction continues for a major development on Hardy Street.

Scott Martin, the owner of Bop's Frozen Custard, said revenue is "significantly down" with construction for The District at Midtown underway just outside the front door.

"I knew it was going to have some impact, any time you have heavy construction going on and entrances blocked and roads dug up, there's no way around it and we understand that," said Martin.  "We just had no idea how much it would impact it, because we didn't know what they were going to do until they started."

Construction began in March for the mixed-use development across from the University of Southern Mississippi.  The District at Midtown will include restaurants, retail shops, a five-story hotel and an apartment component.  At the groundbreaking ceremony, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant called it a "game changer" for Hattiesburg.

Unfortunately for Martin and his employees, they are experiencing growing pains.

"Once they see the constructions and they don't really know how to get there, it's like not at all, I don't want to be by the equipment and stuff so it kind of scares them away, so we've lost a few customers," said manager Tyson Barnes.

"It has affected us as workers, our hours have been cut back as a result," Barnes said.

Martin said he moved to the current location about a year and a half ago, unaware of the plans for the developments.  He calls everyday a challenge, with crews closing different roads and ways for customers to access Bop's parking lot.

"Everyday is kind of a different challenge, we've always had an entrance open, whether its the front or the back, we've never been totally shut down," said Martin.  "But, one of them may be closed and then the other one may be open, everyday it's a different situation."

Most days, South 30th Avenue off Hardy Street is blocked, but customers can get to Bop's from 29th Avenue and Chevy Chase.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker released a video on his social media outlets last week, urging diners to ignore the construction and head to Bop's, a local restaurant that's been in the Hub City for 14 years.

"We are encouraging our community to come together, one of our own is having some toughs times and get behind them," said Barker.  "Really show this local business, that's owned by local people who live in the city, that we support them."

The District at Midtown complex is expected to be complete in the next 12 to 18 months.

Martin said Bop's will stay open and continue to serve the "great products" it has for the last 14 years.

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