By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – A new restaurant is coming to Main Street next spring with the planned opening of Wagner’s Grill House. Water Valley native and Oxford businessman Terry Warren reported work has resumed on a pair of adjacent Main Street buildings for the interior build-out for both floors of both buildings. When completed, his plan is to offer dining with a local, Water Valley atmosphere.
A total of 10,000 square feet, Warren explained that the bottom floors will house the restaurant and adjoining country store. An upstairs bar is planned in one of the buildings and the other one will be a venue available for rent for special occasions.
Warren purchased the pair of buildings known as the Wagner buildings in 2015 and has worked on the buildings intermittently since then in what has turned into a mammoth project with structural work needed to stabilize the structures and long overdue cosmetic work. The work has included the installation of steel beams, an upstairs balcony that spans the length of both buildings and matching storefront designs.
“We are not going to cut any corners,” Warren said, adding that Marvin Johnson, an architect from Walls, has been hired to design the interior build-out.
Warren, who is best known for his Oxford business connections also stressed that the identity and atmosphere of Wagner’s Grill House will be all about Water Valley.
“It’s not about Ole Miss or Oxford, it is Water Valley. We want everybody from Water Valley to feel like it is their restaurant,” Warren explained.
To help make that a reality, he hired Kevin Morris as the manager and chef of the business. Morris, age 30, is the son of Donnie Morris and Lita Morris and a 2005 graduate of Water Valley High School. He has been living in Houston, Texas, for the last decade but brought his family home back in March to return to his roots and raise his family.
He attended The Art Institute of Houston where he graduated at the top of class. During school he started working for Abuso Catering. Over the years he progressed all the way from prep cook to head chef and finally executive chef.
“It was fine dining plus high volume,” Morris explained about his previous position.
But after being gone for a decade, Morris said the lure to return home and raise his family was strong.
“We actually found out we were pregnant with our second child after returning to Water Valley,” Morris said.
“This is all about Water Valley. I spent the first 18 years of my life here,” Warren added about the business venture.
“If you see us up there at the building working, stop by and visit. We are open to suggestions to what you would like to see. We want everybody from Water Valley to feel like it is their restaurant,” Warren added.