Rafters

Rafters Music and Food Co-Owner Chad Jennings stands at the bar inside the restaurant.

A new restaurant may open this week in New Albany on West Bankhead Street.

Rafters Music and Food, 704 A. West Bankhead St., will serve po’boys, burgers, zydeco shrimp, crawfish rolls, chicken tenders and many other items.

Catfish, red beans and rice, gumbo, crawfish andouille nachos and plate lunches with a vegetable of the day will also be served.

“Hopefully, we’ll have it open by (this) weekend,” said co-owner Chad Jennings.

The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner and also plans to have a Sunday brunch.

Much of the food served at Rafters will be Cajun/creole-inspired, Jennings said. He said there could also be bone-in fried chicken served on Sundays. He hopes the restaurant can draw an after-church crowd.

There could be a soft opening as early as Thursday, Aug. 27.

In addition, the business plans to have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. A stage has been built inside the restaurant for bands.

There could also be live music on Sunday, such as an acoustic set, for the brunch crowd. Open mic nights are another possibility. Jennings said he will play it by ear with the music to see what the patrons want.

Rafters Music and Food has had the lease on the building for about two years, Jennings said. Construction has been taking place for about the past year. A front patio was added, and there is also astro turf for cornhole boards. A bar was also added, and a 136-inch projection screen for sports was put in.

In addition, there are nine 65-inch TVs inside and outside of the restaurant, which features a front and back patio. Football will be played on the TVs on Saturday and Sunday. He is also looking forward to serving the local ball teams.

Last week, construction on the building was being finished, and the final touches were being put on the building. All new kitchen equipment has been put in the building.

The restaurant has been doing some hiring and plans to have 35 to 40 employees, mostly part time.

There has been a lot of construction at the restaurant in the past year, Jennings said.

This is not the only Rafters Music and Food location. There is also a Rafters on the Water at Sardis Lake Marina and one in Oxford. The Oxford location was the first one and opened in 2015.

The plan is for the Rafters in New Albany to be family friendly for lunch and dinner, and then bring in live music on Fridays and Saturdays around 8:30 p.m. Jennings noted that the restaurant will follow all of the regulations concerning live music during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the decision to open a Rafters in New Albany made sense geographically. Moreover, he felt there was a need for more local restaurants here.

The New Albany market works well for the Rafters concept, he added. There was not a place like this in town, and so far it has been well received, he said.

“We’re looking forward to serving the community,” Jennings said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Opening a restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging. But he noted that he is paying close attention to all of the governor’s orders. He also thinks that people want to get out after being stuck at home for several months.

“We’re going to operate safely,” he said.

Takeout orders will also be available, and hopefully people will come out and give Rafters a shot, Jennings said.

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