/Soulshine A ‘deer camp for hippies’ who happen to love pizza

Soulshine A ‘deer camp for hippies’ who happen to love pizza

This is the weekly ‘Sip of Culture. It’s a partnership between Mississippi Today Magazine and The Sip Magazine. Visit The Sip’s website to see more stories and to subscribe to the ‘Sip. RIDGELAND — Chris Sartin, who was thirty years old at the time, knew that he didn’t want to work a desk job for the rest of his adult life. He says, “I knew that I had to do something creative and that I didn’t like having to listen to someone telling me how to dress or what to say.” “I was more interested in expressing myself than being conformed to a mold of someone else,” he says. Before he started his venture into the restaurant business, Sartin was not content to work for his father’s insurance company. Instead, he began to paint, listen to music, and learn to cook. He decided that opening a restaurant was the right career after Walker’s Drive-In in Jackson went up for sale. Walker’s was sold to another buyer. He came across a Little Caesar’s on his way to Blockbuster Video in Castlewoods. He says, “It was inexpensive, and there was no one else making gourmet pizzas in the area at that time.” “At that moment, I realized that I could turn on music and have artwork put on the walls. That was the birth of Soulshine Pizza Factory. Sartin has made a lot of progress since opening his first restaurant in 2001. It could hold approximately 60 people. He now has four locations: Ridgeland; Flowood; Oxford; and a new one in Franklin, Tenn. Sartin, now 47 years old, took some of his personality and put it into the restaurants. He loves blues, psychedelic and rock and roll from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as jazz and bluegrass. This is what you hear in Soulshine’s dining rooms. Sartin said, “I like the stuff you don’t hear on the radio.” He also mentions that he often brings in live performers. Sartin makes sure that his restaurants are not “cookie-cutter” copies of each other, even though he has multiple locations. He says, “But the vibes are the same.” The artwork on the walls are different. One wall might have a Willie Nelson portrait, while another one may show Gregg Allman. He says, “I just try and keep a theme music and history.” “When I refer to history, I mean old Pabst Blue Ribbon Tin signs, or something on the wall that has a story. “The walls at Soulshine remind me of my college dorm room or apartment.” Sartin says that it seems like yesterday that Soulshine opened its doors. He realizes how far he’s come each time he meets someone young who remembers dining in his restaurant when he was a child. They remember me taking them to the kitchen when they were little, and it makes you realize that you’re not as young. He says it’s “humbling.” It’s humbling,” he says.