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Hattiesburg American

What is Robert St. John cooking up now? See what his plans are for the Mahogany Bar

By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American,


Just about everyone who knows Robert St. John knows he's always cooking up something.

If he isn't testing recipes for a new cookbook or traveling to Italy, he's most likely making plans to open a new restaurant.

Well, St. John is at it again, in a way.

The Purple Parrot reigned for years on the west side of the building that also houses Crescent City Grill and Mahogany Bar.

When Gov. Tate Reeves shuttered indoor dining in the early days of the pandemic, there was no way to give customers the white-tablecloth experience offered by the Purple Parrot.

As days turned to months, St. John realized he needed to put his energy and money into Crescent City Grill since the restaurant's menu worked for take-home meals. The Purple Parrot, he decided, was no longer viable in a pandemic-stricken world.

"The Purple Parrot was a COVID casualty," St. John said. "I was working on a Tex Mex concept at the time, and it made the most sense financially to bring it in here."

St. John transformed the Purple Parrot space into El Rayo, which opened in late 2020 — even with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing.

Now El Rayo is closed, and St. John is putting in a new bar and lounge area.

"It was taxing the kitchen," St. John said of El Rayo. "It was too much to keep the quality up in both Crescent City and El Rayo. It was too much in this space to handle two restaurants."

Instead of creating a new concept, St. John is expanding the Mahogany Bar to create two environments with much the same flavor.

The current 'Hog, as it is called by locals, will focus more on the bar's vast whiskey and beer selections while the other side will focus on wine and exotic cocktails.

"We have over 3,500 bottles of wine in our inventory," St. John said.

The new side of the 'Hog will have an enomatic system, which allows wine to be poured by the ounce or the glass while halting the oxidation process that would ruin the wine.

"There was no way to do that in the original Mahogany Bar," St. John said. "We just didn't have the space."

Installing an enomatic system means customers can enjoy a glass of premium wine that previously could only be served by the bottle.

Both sides of the Mahogany Bar will share a happy hour, St. John said.

The large patio will get a makeover and will have servers in addition to bar service.

The new area of the Mahogany Bar is expected to open Nov. 20, but could be later if it isn't ready, St. John said.

An oyster bar is in the works as well as a new appetizer menu that will bring back some old favorites as well as bringing in some new ones.

The new additions are currently being introduced (or reintroduced) as featured items on the Crescent City menu.

"Crescent City Grill is our flagship," St. John said. "Crescent City Grill/Mahogany Bar is our brand, so we're just going to own it. We're going to be able to expand our menu by a lot.

"That's the exciting part to me. I can take the Crescent City menu where I want to."

Do you have a story to share? Contact Lici Beveridge at Follow her on Twitter @licibev or Facebook at

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