By Kathryn Winter | Photography by Adam Mitchell
Randall Swaney never really sought out to start a restaurant; it just kind of happened, he says with a laugh.
Swaney, who owns a farm between Holly Springs and Oxford, wanted to build a barn so he purchased a sawmill to make the wood himself. Whenever he went to cut the wood, though, it would start raining. He then decided to buy a building where he could store his sawmill. He realized the building was much too big for that lonely piece of equipment. Swaney always wanted to have his own feed store but also wanted a gun store. Then, he decided it would be cool to have a place where he could cook hamburgers, but he realized there were no steakhouses nearby. And that’s how the idea for Marshall Steakhouse was born.
Some of the brand-new restaurant’s features include handmade tables, bars upstairs and downstairs, a concert area and dance floor, and a 3,000-square-foot patio that can be reserved for private events. A dining room on the mezzanine level surrounded by 250-year-old trees is also available for private parties.
As far as menu options, Swaney said steak, prime rib, fresh catch of the day, Gulf seafood, grilled chicken, and grilled pork chops are all included. The manager is a chef who also has experience catering, which also will be offered. In addition, a pastry chef hand makes all kinds of cakes and pies for dessert.
Marshall Steakhouse has the largest charcoal grille in the state of Mississippi, so almost everything is grilled.
“Hamburgers are our specialty for lunch, and I really think it is the best hamburger anywhere,” he said. “Our food is as locally sourced as possible. We get our eggs and vegetables from farmers in the area and sausages and pork from Home Place Pastures, which is locally owned by Marshall Bartlett.”
The restaurant also has a music amphitheater, where bands will play on Friday and Saturday nights and on Sunday afternoons (weather permitting). A large dance floor is available for two-stepping and line dancing. The interior dining room also will host live music. Musicians lined up to play at the restaurant include the band Almost Famous, internationally known saxophonist Pat Register, and fiddle-player Donna Wolf.
“Inside the restaurant the music will be more of a background sound and not as loud, but outside we will have actual bands playing, including country and western bands and a little bit of bluegrass,” Swaney said.
The restaurant’s décor looks like something from Montana or Colorado. Swaney bought trees from the largest old growth forest in Tennessee, also known as virgin timber. The trees have been growing in Collierville untouched for over 300 years. “They were clearing the space so I bought some, reclaimed the wood, and we made every table in the restaurant.”
At the door is a wood statue of a Native American carved by artist Paul Moon to honor Marshall County’s first residents. Moon also hand carved a 6,000-pound grizzly bear for the restaurant.
Heated by wood stoves in the winter, the dining room seats 350 people while the outdoor area can hold 300. Guests can even cook their own hamburgers or steaks and sit at one of 25 outdoor picnic tables.
“Customers can pick their meats inside and then go outside to cook their meal on a state park grill. We have a number to call when your meat is almost ready, and we’ll run a batch of hand-cut fries out to your table,” Swaney said.
Ready-made side dishes, including coleslaw and baked beans, are also available.
“Our first goal is to become the number one steakhouse in the state. In order to be number one, that means we must have the best steaks, best service and best atmosphere,” he said. “It’s really unlike any restaurant I’ve ever been in. The menu is also not expensive. We offer moderately priced items.”
The restaurant has been a project for Swaney since last January. After he decided to make it a steakhouse, he developed the idea for a “72-ounce sirloin challenge.”
“We’re going to challenge customers to eat a whole 72-ounce sirloin in an hour and it’s free,” he explained. “If they complete the challenge, they get their name on a wall plaque. Otherwise, they’ll have to pay for the steak.”
One of the largest steakhouses in Mississippi, the new restaurant boasts a fine dining menu with a rustic setting, and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. Marshall Steakhouse is located at 2379 Hwy. 178 West, in Holly Springs, Mississippi. For hours of operation and to see the menu, visit marshallsteakhouse.com.