When Central Station Bistro opens for business in a couple of weeks, look for a bit of California wine country in the Bay.
Owners Janice and Jim Hall, former Californians, have been creating their Central Avenue bistro for a year and a half, transforming the building into an inviting setting where they will serve premium wines, gourmet cheeses and charcuteries. There’s no place else like it on the Coast, says Janice.
Located a few blocks from Old Town, the Bistro is the Halls’ retirement project. Jim retired from the industrial demolition and development industry; Janice is a fine arts photographer and interior designer. They moved to the Bay from Palm Springs, Calif., three years ago and were looking for something to do. “We kept seeing this derelict building for sale and looking in the windows,” Janice said. What they saw was a wreck: no walls, no plumbing, nothing but termite-eaten studs. “We’re either a couple of visionaries or lunatics, but we said let’s buy it and figure it out.”
The bedraggled property’s redeeming quality was its setting, which captivated the couple. “It’s a beautiful lot with oak trees and next door to a pastoral looking church in a converted barn,” she said.
They were guided to the wine bar idea by local friends who complained that there wasn’t a bar for grown ups where they could get a nice glass of wine without loud music and the usual beach bar menu.
The wine bar idea got a boost from the fact that Janice is a longtime member of the Brotherhood of Knights of the Vine, an esteemed wine society, and has loads of experience creating events around wine.
So the Halls hired a contractor and architects and the three-bedroom cottage slowly began to be transformed. The former living room will be the main gathering area. The front bedroom with a fireplace and flatscreen TV is another spot for guests. The front patio with rocking chairs and fire pit is almost done. Janice calls the interior character “slick and cool with really good vibes. It feels like in Sonoma.” Muscadine vines will be planted soon to add another winery touch.
The Halls are working on the wine list and menu, which will feature cheeses from St. James Cheese Co. in New Orleans and other vendors. Wine will be moderately priced and sold by the glass and by flights. Some beers will also be sold.
Janice said the bistro will have a club atmosphere with something for everybody. “You can come in and site in comfortable leather furniture or at pub tables for a cheese board and a nice glass wine.”
Central Station Bistro will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to closing (TBD).
Stay tuned for the opening date announcement. Follow Central Station Bistro on Facebook.
Central Station Bistro
205 Central Ave.
Bay St. Louis