The university’s on-campus hotel, The Inn at Ole Miss, plans to open a new bar-and-grill before the end of the semester.
McCormick Café, which previously only served breakfast to hotel residents, will soon rebrand as McCormick’s, featuring a full-service bar, restaurant and lounge. It will be the first bar on campus and is named in honor of UM graduates David and Sue McCormick.
Kirk Purdom, executive director of the Ole Miss Alumni Association, said by featuring an in-house restaurant and bar, the Inn will be more competitive with other high-end hotels in Oxford.
“We have a lot of guests that come in, and they just want to get a beer or just sit down and grab a hamburger,” Purdom said. “So this just makes us more of a full-service hotel and gets us up to the same level of our competition in town.”
Between discussion and design, the process of renovating McCormick’s has taken longer than a year. The possibility of featuring a bar on campus was made possible in 2018 after the state of Mississippi granted resort status to the Inn, allowing it to serve beer at select events. Before then, only wine and liquor could be sold, and only by third-party vendors.
Then, in July 2019, the Inn applied for and attained a liquor license. This allowed the Inn to serve any type of alcohol and prompted the installation of a bar on-site. The hotel’s resort status exempts it from alcohol rules that govern the rest of campus.
Purdom said the process of converting the café into a bar has been a challenge because it is on campus, but hotel guests have been inquiring about an in-house bar for years.
“There were a lot of obstacles. Otherwise, we would have had it a long time ago.”
McCormick’s, which will still serve breakfast to hotel guests, is expected to open at 3 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends, but similar to other hotel bars, it will likely close at 10 p.m., Purdom said. It will be open to everyone, but he has issued strict orders about checking identification for alcohol sales.
“The one thing I’ve told all of our staff (is that) we are checking everyone’s I.D., regardless of if they look like they’re 21 or not,” Purdom said. “That’s really important to us, that (underage people) wouldn’t be able to have alcohol.”
Once completed, McCormick’s will feature a 2,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor space. The bar’s menu has been designed by Ole Miss alumnus Ben Napier, who appears in the HGTV series “Home Town.”
Negotiations are underway with contractors, with plans to start construction as soon as possible in order to open before the end of the semester. Purdom said that the goal is to be finished in time to accommodate guests of Double Decker Arts Festival, graduation and orientation.
“The sooner we get it open, the more revenue we’re going to make,” he said. “We want to be able to have (McCormick’s) available to our guests. That’s the biggest thing.”