More than 60,000 visitors a year visit The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, the infamous antebellum site considered to be one of America’s most haunted homes.
Now, along with its famed resident ghosts, The Myrtles could also become known for its innovative take on local gastronomy. Owners John and Teeta Moss and their son, Morgan, are set to break ground on a new open-hearth restaurant, six additional guest rooms and a nine-acre kitchen garden. The Bank of St. Francisville is financing the project through a construction loan.
“The Moss family has banked with us for years, and we’re excited to serve as their lender and support this new phase of work and a new generation of leadership in Morgan,” said Melvin Harvey, Jr., vice president of commercial lending. “The Myrtles is a local icon and we’re excited to see these new projects come to life.”
Currently, The Myrtles offers twelve guest rooms located both within the historic mansion and on the grounds. The additional rooms will increase capacity by 50%, giving more visitors the option to extend their stay.
“Our goal with the new addition is to enhance the experience of guests, whether they’re traveling from across the country or live right here,” said Myrtles General Manager Morgan Moss. “It’s a pleasure to work with a local bank that’s so involved in the community, and it’s easy to have trust in them after a twenty-five-year relationship. My parents started that relationship when they purchased The Myrtles in 1992 and I’m proud to continue it.”
The design of the new building will blend carefully with existing structures while also being functional. Centerpiece of the planned eatery, named Restaurant 1796 (the date refers to the year The Myrtles was built), will be a large wood-fired oven on full display to guests. Open-hearth cooking where chefs create bold flavors through intense roasting over an open flame, has grown in popularity nationwide, says Morgan.
“We’re really inspired by restaurants like Ox in Portland, Oregon, and King + Duke in Atlanta, which have big, wood-fired hearths,” said Morgan. “It’s an old way of cooking, but chefs are using it to showcase local cuisine. We like the blend of old and new.”
Morgan expects that guests will enhance their top-notch dining experience with a stroll through the forthcoming kitchen garden and walking trail planned for The Myrtles’ meandering entrance grounds. Conceptual plans call for a native fruit orchard as well as plots for seasonal vegetables and herbs. Ultimately the scheme could extend to a working smokehouse, apiary and other agricultural features, to illustrate The Myrtles’ culinary history and supply the restaurant, too.
Morgan grew up at The Myrtles. A passion for racing motorcycles led him to spend his teenage years and early adulthood on the professional racing circuit. Moss returned home in 2014 and has worked at the plantation since, focusing on new ways to enrich the visitor experience.
In 2016, a fire destroyed The Myrtles’ former restaurant, which was run by an outside group. The new restaurant, guest rooms and a courtyard, will be constructed on roughly the same footprint. Morgan’s goal: to present guests with an immersive experience complete with spectacular cuisine served against a backdrop of St. Francisville’s rich history and natural beauty … all while keeping an eye out for The Myrtles’ resident ghosts, of course.
The Moss family expects a November groundbreaking followed by about nine months of construction. The goal is to cut the ribbon before next Halloween—always The Myrtles’ busiest time of the year.
“Our idea is to help guests step back in time and experience the culture of this period in Louisiana,” says Morgan. “The restaurant, the grounds and the new rooms will really help us elevate all the senses.”
Want to learn how a construction loan can help grow your business? We’re here to help. Call us at (225) 784-3162 or email Melvin to get started.