Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Emersons are at it again. Walker's Drive-In and Local 463 owner and award-winning chef Derek Emerson recently opened a new business in Miso's former location at 3100 N. State St. He and his wife, Jennifer, have planned CAET, a wine bar, for years. This venture is completely different from Walker's but complements what they're already doing there, as well as the current bar scene in Fondren.
"Fondren is a great place to be," Derek Emerson says.
CAET, pronounced "Kate" and named after the Emersons' youngest daughter's middle name, specializes in fine wines but is more than a wine bar. The lounge is perfect for pre-dinner drinks or for an older crowd looking for a more relaxed and intimate bar setting.
And if customers' pre-dinner drinks happen to be before dining at Walker's, they can log in on an iPad and receive a text when their table is ready.
The Emersons' secret weapon for the wine bar is Napa Technologies' wine-preservation system that keeps wine fresh for 40 days after opening by "re-corking" it with argon gas, enabling the bartenders to have a larger selection of wine by the glass.
CAET is the first location in Mississippi to have the system.
The wine bar serves small plates, both sweet and savory, to complement the chosen wine. Using local ingredients, Chef Reynolds Boykin creates tapas that rival the quality of the drinks. Emphasizing what's available seasonally and locally creates an ever-changing menu. In fact, CAET exudes locality—from the art on the walls, painted by local artists to the tables you set your drink on, handmade by local design company D+P Designs.
The Emersons' inspiration for the concept came, in part, because there was no place at Walker's for customers to hang out with friends before or after their meal. CAET solves that dilemma and provides perfect appetizers and aperitifs as a prelude to Walker's entrees. The growing walkability of the historic district will be a contributing factor to the lounge's success. Emerson says that it will fill the gap in Fondren's nightlife scene, joining The Apothecary with its handcrafted cocktails and Fondren Public's selection of draft beer.
The interior decor, chosen by Jennifer, provides the welcoming environment that the Emersons dreamed of, with farmhouse-style coffee tables, ottomans and padded bench seating. The bar itself is perfectly inviting, with elegant and tall chairs and a dimly lit countertop.
"It's a great place to start your evening or end your evening," Derek Emerson says. The cool, crisp color palette, which consists of grays, whites and distressed wood, convinces you to not only come in, but relax and stay for a while.
Along with the Emersons and Boykin, Elise Russell joins the CAET team as general manager and David Grenley as wine specialist. The crew opened the lounge for business Sept. 3 and is open Monday through Saturday. CAET hopes to attract bar-goers hungry for a late-night snack, serving until midnight on the weekends.
Emerson is grateful for the reputation he's established at Walker's, but likes having the opportunity to create something new.
"This wouldn't be possible without the staff we have," Emerson says.
"Our biggest philosophy is trying to surround ourselves with good people and putting out a good product."
CAET is open Monday-Thursday from 4-11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 4 p.m.-midnight. For more information, call 601-321-9169 or find CAET on Facebook.