New Hattiesburg restaurant Black Sheep’s Café and Speakeasy aims to create an all-inclusive environment for members of all communities and walks of life. Owners Sara and Parker “LB” Bell developed the idea for the restaurant after Gov. Phil Bryant passed a law in 2016 that allows business owners to refuse service to anyone based on his or her religious beliefs. Black Sheep’s website states, “At its core, the law targets the LGBTQ+ community.” The mission of Black Sheep’s is to create a safe space where everyone can join together to share a meal and celebrate their diversity.
The Bells are also founders and the main benefactors of The Spectrum Center. They started The Spectrum Center in 2014 to be a resource and an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in and around Hattiesburg.
According to The Spectrum Center’s website, the center is dedicated to advocate as well as provide resources in collaboration with these and other organizations to help provide for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
Gary May, a Southern Miss alum and Biloxi native, relocated from Chicago to become the general manager of Black Sheep’s Café and Speakeasy. Before moving to Chicago, May was a manager at the Purple Parrot and Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg and was on staff at Trilby’s in Ocean Springs.
“I am excited to be back in Hattiesburg to help create a destination for the LGBTQ community and their allies in the Pine Belt,” May said.
The staff of Black Sheep’s said that they are working hard to bring equality and acceptance to Mississippi.
Black Sheep’s Café focuses on serving “Modern American cuisine” that is made from scratch. The restaurant strives to create a seasonal menu that uses locally sourced and responsibly grown produce.
The Black Sheep’s website advertises that the restaurant will host live performances including but not limited to, burlesque shows, vocal and comedic drag and dinner theater.
Every Sunday afternoon, Black Sheep’s plans to hold a Sunday tea dance with dance music, beer busts and drink specials.
“Feel free to dance away our differences and celebrate diversity on the dance floor,” Black Sheep’s website said. “Remember, in the Speakeasy, if you don’t tell, we won’t tell.”
“I think it’s important for the community to have a safe space,” said Hattiesburg resident Nathan Maxwell. “I think that in the social media age where we live life behind a screen, it’s important to have a place to gather and meet new people who are likeminded and who can identify and relate to us.
During Hubfest in Downtown Hattiesburg on April 1, Black Sheep’s held its First Annual Crawfish Boil. In addition, the restaurant donated the money from every sixth beer to Extra Table to help feed those who are hungry in the Hattiesburg community.
The official opening date of Black Sheep’s Café has not been announced yet but the restaurant offers a mailing list for people who are eager for its opening to stay up to date with announcements.
Editor’s Note: I removed first from the headline as several people pointed out that this cafe is not the first LGBTQ+ inclusive space in Hattiesburg. Updated by Cam Bonelli on April 4, 2017 at 10:24 p.m.