Marianne Dixon


It's not difficult at all for Marianne Dixon, 33, to talk about her job, her husband or Jackson, the city she calls home. Taking a seat at a round, four-top table near the Hal & Mal's bar, with her eyes sparkling and cheeks glowing, Dixon tells all.

"I love it, the energy, the people who come through the door," Dixon says about Hal & Mal's, where she's worked for six years, going from waitress to bartender to manager. She attributes part of that energy to the politicians, the artists, the musicians, the great mix of people. "I know half the people who come through the door by name. It's kind of like going to work and getting to socialize at the same time."

For 20 years, Hal & Mal's has been downtown Jackson's gathering place, drawing people from across the metropolitan area. Some come for the comfort food and the neighborhood bar atmosphere; some come for the eclectic music offerings. Some who used to come with their parents now come on their own. "We want our employees to shine," Dixon says, "because their personalities are an important asset of the company."

Turns out one of those employees became the most important asset in Dixon's life: her husband, Scott. "He runs the Red Room Bistro; it's his creation. He did the menu, the kitchen," Dixon says. "I actually met him here at Hal & Mal's. I trained him when I was still a waiter." They've been married two and a half years, lived for a while in his home state of California, then came back to Jackson, where they live in Belhaven. "He was the first one to say 'Let's go back.' He loves it here. I do, too."

One thing she wants for the city is already happening. "I've noticed a marked difference in the last two to three years in the number of interested young people who are doing something to make Jackson a better place to live, the artists, the musicians, the young professionals and others." What she wants is for the renaissance in Fondren to spread to downtown. People have been talking about this happening for so long, but Dixon says it's time now to make things better for downtown because that will make things better for everyone.

"It's going to take the government and the people. I'd like to see someone push if they need to. And I'd hate to see (Mayor) Melton take down the King Edward. I'd hate for us to lose something like that prematurely," she says.


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