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Sitting cabaret style around the stage, cutting rugs on the dance floor, or singing along at the bar, visitors to Columbia Street Rock N Blues Cafe are as thoroughly entertained as they are well-fed. Live entertainment lights up the venue almost every night, while a menu of sandwiches, salads, and burgers ignites palates with customizable classics. Whether a DJ is spinning records or a rocker is smashing his guitar case full of jelly, a night at Rock N Blues is sure to be memorable.
Building on the writing tradition of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, and other players in Mississippi's literary heritage, New Stage Theatre populates its stages with contemporary and classic works by American playwrights. Often comical, often challenging, each season's flock of five musicals and straight plays spreads across colorfully set stages with an aim to attract a culturally diverse audience. The artistic staff balances works by the likes of Lorraine Hansberry, Arthur Miller, and Horton Foote with new and developing productions through the Eudora Welty New Play Series, named for the writer who served on the board of directors. New Stage Theatre staff complements their theatre's strong artistic vision with educational programs for youth and adults, including touring programs. These outreach endeavors earned theater staff the 1995 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. While the original New Stage Theatre was founded in an old church 46 years ago, all of its performances currently fill the large and small theaters at Jane Reid Petty Theatre Center.
Tucked behind Leinkauf Elementary School, La Pizzeria has been lauded by Press-Register food editor David Holloway as "one of the best-kept secrets" in town. He praises owner Todd Henson's balance between Italian classics—pastas with housemade sauces and calzones among them—and creative menu contributions. A list of character-inspired gourmet pizzas includes the garlic-infused Bela Lugosi and the Sherlock Holmes, a mystery order whose toppings are chosen by the chef and cooked beneath a carefully aimed magnifying glass. Strewn with white tablecloths and still-life paintings, the low-lit interior features one private table, where Henson wagers "we've had a hundred proposals of marriage … over the years."
Certified dance instructors who have trained with Arthur Murray, Fred Astaire, and the National Dance Council of America impart ballroom, Latin, and swing moves to dancers in all-level and wedding-specific courses. The main ballroom's mammoth disco ball, grown from a sequin planted on the roof, tosses light across a blacked-out ceiling that, along with high-tech lighting, fosters a nightclub atmosphere during weekly dance parties.
Owning a bar was not Patrick Sullivan's primary life goal. "Archaeologist" claimed that title, but after three years of kneeling in the dirt digging holes and finding nothing but Martian bones, he decided that wasn't the life for him. When he came to his parents with his idea of opening a bar, he was in for a shock: instead of scolding him for throwing away a good career, his parents approved. His mother even volunteered to be his business partner. A second shock came when three months before Patrick was set to have all the money he needed, his mother was killed in an accident. To honor her wishes, Patrick's father took on her responsibilities to the business, and in 2005, Government Street Grocery opened to the public.
The welcoming vibe beyond the bar's neon-splashed front doors is a fitting tribute to Patrick's mother, as local art lines the walls and live bands regularly fill the space with the danceable rhythms of blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, and rock tunes. As guests take in the entertainment, they can savor a plethora of hearty bar food ranging from 100% Angus burgers to massive muffuletta sandwiches to vegetarian options such as veggie burgers and falafel wraps. And then, of course, there's the beer. An ever-changing lineup of craft brews from Rogue, Abita, New Belgium, and other producers pour into pint glasses, while those of a more spirited persuasion sip cocktails mixed from premium spirits at the full bar.