At 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the Jones County Chamber of Commerce, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee, and Councilwoman Grace Amos gathered with members of the local community to congratulate Laurel natives Charles and Ann Chapman on the opening of their new seafood restaurant, Mr. Fish on Cross Street. The restaurant has been a dream for the Chapman family for a long time. They began by starting a body shop that has enjoyed significant success in the area. “People in the community have been so generous in that business, that I took the proceeds and built this business,” Charles Chapman explained. “I am so thankful for this neighborhood.” The Chapmans purchased the site in 2017 and have been working on it ever since. They paid for all of the renovations and property upgrades as they went so that they could open start the business debt free. In addition to having a clear vision about the finances of the business, they also had a clear vision for the menu. Charles describes himself as a “seafood connoisseur” so he knew that any restaurant he opened would have to be a seafood restaurant. The business opened to the public on Wednesday and has a staff of five including Charles’ brother, Reverand Gerald Chapman, and his brother-in-law Michael Hardy.
The Chapmans thank everyone for their continuing support. “This is the community’s project,” Ann explained.
Councilwoman Grace Amos said that she was “elated” for the couple in their new undertaking and Mayor Magee thanked them for doing business in Laurel.
At 1 p.m. Stephanie Masterson, a new arrival to the City Beautiful, opened her shop, Festoon Balloon, across from the Laurel-Jones County library. Masterson is a retired teacher from West Texas who moved to Laurel in 2020 as part of HGTV’s “Hometown”. “I wanted small town life,” she explained. “So I was looking around.” Once she saw the show, she wondered if Laurel would be the right fit for her. Her friends and family encouraged her to sign up to be on the show and, much to her surprise, she was selected. She moved, found a new job as a teacher at St. John’s, and appeared on national television with her newly renovated home. Earlier this year, she retired after a 20 year career in teaching and decided to open her own business. “I’m ready to shift gears, but I’m still kind of in the kid business,” she explained. The business allows her to have fun, be creative, participate in decorating and events, and work with bright colorful decorations. Her motto is, “We make every day festive.” She currently offers balloon arches, garlands, bouquets, centerpieces, columns, and individual balloons. “I can do anything balloon related except a hot air balloon,” she said.
Congratulations to the owners of both businesses and thank you for serving the people of Laurel and Jones County!