Friday, October 31, 2008

The Mockingbird Phoenix

For over 2 years, the Mockingbird has been the local coffee shop, burger joint, music venue, and living room for Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. You could not go without seeing a familiar face, and no matter where you were from, walking through the front door was like walking into your own home. Kat Fitzpatrick (a local artist) was quoted by the Sun Herald saying, "When many of us were living in trailers, it was our living room." For a lot of people, it still is. People who don't have an office do business there, and students study there. It's like the best part of a City Hall and a rural post office." It is where Lagniappe held our weekly staff Bible study, and where we went to meet about business, or escape business. Nicknamed "the Bird," the coffee shop / restaurant was the eclectic haven for folk music, art, Lazy Magnolia, and the best burgers in town. Any given day you could find the punk rockers, the prep-school students, the soccer moms, and of course someone on the Lagniappe staff sitting by a window. Monday morning, October 27th, patrons were shocked by a sign that read, "The Mockingbird will be closing its doors Friday, October 31st. Thank you for letting us be part of your lives." It was a blow no one anticipated-a sobering warning that this town's economy is fragile. No one could imagine downtown Bay St. Louis without the Mockingbird. So we prayed. Lagniappe spent the last week, corporately and individually praying for this coffee shop and their owners, Martin and Allicin Chambers. Why does a coffee shop matter so much? It matters because people matter, because culture matters, because art matters...because God cares about conversations over coffee or burgers and loves folk music! It matters because it served as a community center-a catalyst for relationships, and a place of beauty in the midst of chaos. The garden at the Mockingbird has, at times, been one of the few places in this city with green landscaping cascading over handrails and around foot a town under construction, green things become increasingly valuable. Thursday night was their final goodbye, the last night of music and food before they closed their doors. "Full cyrcle" band played, and the Bird ran out of food and beer by 8pm!! Allicin stepped the mic and the several hundred patrons quieted down, expecting a farewell speech...but through some tears and smiles Allicein managed a quiet "we aren't closing!" Little was heard after that. People's bank had come through to refinance them-recognizing the incredible importance of this cultural hub. The Phoenix came; the Mockingbird is staying open! It was a sobering reminder to all of us that Bay St. Louis is far from recovered. Small businesses are still in desperate need, and without them this town cannot hope to recover. But God is faithful, and we still have good coffee, great beer, and a living room on Second and Main. For more information check out and

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