The Capri Theatre, Highball Lanes Open in Fondren
Jason Watkins and David Pharr - alongside operating partner and Hattiesburg restaurateur Robert St. John - have opened a dynamic entertainment project, including the revival of The Capri Theatre alongside a restaurant with bowling and a soon-to-open tiki bar.
The storied Capri Theatre, with a state-of-the-art projection system, reclining seats, food service, and a full bar, provides the city of Jackson with its only movie screen.
The reimagined Capri will offer first-run and classic movies as well as alternative content, such as live music. Adjacent to the Capri, the group is opening a restaurant, Highball Lanes, that features ten lanes of bowling, and a classic tiki bar, The Pearl.
“I have always thought Fondren was the coolest neighborhood in the largest city in the state, and to have the opportunity to bring a movie theatre and bowling alley – in addition to a restaurant and tiki bar – seems like a perfect fit for the casual, yet creative, vibe of Fondren,” said St. John.
The current development, 14 years in the making, includes:
• A refurbishment of the historic Capri, offering a 178-seat luxury theater with a 40-foot screen for movie viewing as well as live entertainment capabilities. The facility is ADA accessible.
• Highball Lanes, offering a full-service restaurant and cocktail bar with cuisine inspired by St. John’s Hattiesburg institution, Crescent City Grill, featuring a 10-lane bowling alley and boutique games (once Seabrook Paints).
• The Pearl, an upscale tiki bar featuring classic tiki cocktails and small plates (appetizer heavy, according to St. John), once home to Blaylock Fine Art Photography.
• Ed’s Burger Joint, with rooftop seating and a bar overlooking Fondren (the former Butterfly Yoga)- known for its authentic, fresh burgers, decadent shakes, and homemade frozen pops, is slated to open by the end of 2022. The former gas station that housed Butterfly Yoga will be completely modified and expanded to accommodate the restaurant.
“Fondren is already a thriving destination for shopping and dining, and this development will strengthen its reputation as a gathering spot, with some 30,000 square feet of entertainment and dining options,” said St. John.
With help from the City of Jackson and the Mississippi Development Authority, the project qualified for the Mississippi Tourism Incentive Program, which is designed to promote tourism and entertainment destinations throughout the State. The developers have also worked extensively with the Mississippi Department of Archives & History to complete the necessary restoration work.
Construction began in 2020 and was thrown behind due to supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wier Boerner Allin served as architect, and Anders Corp served as general contractors.
Developers estimate that the $13 million project will result in 80 full-time jobs and 45 part-time jobs across the four businesses.
“I want to once again thank my friends in the restaurant business who have been here fighting the good fight,” St. John said. “And I know I’m a latecomer coming in on third base there. But I also believe as I know (Sal & Mookie’s) Jeff Good believes that a rising tide raises all ships,” adding, ”We are very excited to be headed up this way to be a small part of what you guys have started.”