Pictured are: Mark and Amy Miller, Mark Shapley, Elizabeth Shapley and Mary Shapley
Pictured are: Mark and Amy Miller, Mark Shapley, Elizabeth Shapley and Mary Shapley
RIDGELAND — Twenty years away from the restaurant business, Mark and Mary Shapley are readjusting to life in the industry with the recent launch of MM Shapley’s in their storied location on Centre Street.

Mark and Mary first opened Shapley’s Restaurant in 1985, quickly becoming the go-to steakhouse in the area. They enjoyed the successes of the restaurant business until 1998, when they sold to Scott Koestler. Koestler ran Shapley’s for 20 years and recently opened Koestler Prime at Renaissance at Colony Park.

Mark and Mary decided to carry on the family legacy and return to the restaurant business.

“The biggest adjustment has been getting back into a management position,” Mark said laughingly.

Mark said they had a very soft opening July 30, and have not hit the ground running.

“We just weren’t comfortable with a big opening because we wanted to ensure people were getting what they came for,” he explained. “We really took our time.”

Mark said despite trying to keep a low profile, he said they’ve been surprisingly busy.

Visitors to MM Shapley’s will see an immediate difference from the old Shapley’s. Mark and Mary lightened up the entire interior of the restaurant and increased the brightness.

Mark said his daughter Elizabeth studied interior design so he leaned on her for decorating tips.

“Light on light is what she said,” Mark laughed. “I said, ‘OK.’”

Mark said overall the restaurant industry isn’t much different than what it was 20 years ago.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen is there are a lot of good restaurants in the Jackson area now,” he said. “That limits your ability to not be good. You can’t afford to be off anymore, which is a good thing. That goes back to our slow start. We needed to be right.”

He said the labor market hasn’t changed, but his customer base has, saying many of the young adults were children when they last ran a restaurant.

“Frankly, we’re new to them,” he said. “But, they want good food and kind people waiting on them.”

Mark said food tastes have changed some, too. Back in the day, he said they sold a lot of T-bone steaks and porterhouses, but people are wanting smaller portions of meat now. He sells a lot more Gulf seafood than he thought he ever would.

Drink options have greatly improved, too, he said. Instead of carrying 500 different labels of wine, Mark wants to be known as the go-to place for bourbon. He said they carry over 40 different kinds of bourbon from Pappy Van Winkle to Angel’s Envy.

The other big change in the industry has been the presence of social media, he said.

As far as what sets them apart from other restaurants, Mark said their menu has remained constant going back to 1985, whether it’s a quality cut of meat or the homemade hot tamales passed down from his father.

Mary is excited to be at the restaurant again, saying she’s starting to see familiar faces from 20 years ago.

“It’s been really exciting,” she said. “It’s been a very rewarding, humbling experience in a short period of time.”

MM Shapley’s is located at 868 Centre St. in Ridgeland. Call 601-957-8000 for a reservation or visit them online at mmshapleys.com.