Keven Parker is bringing some big changes to the stretch of South Street between 13th and Broad. At the strip’s stalwart Ms. Tootsie’s, the restaurant that he and his mother opened 14 years ago, Parker has revamped the space completely from top to bottom with sweeping upgrades that took more that six months to complete. Next door he opened KDP Lifestyle, a home furnishings and gifts store stocked with goods and stylish knickknackery that he hand selects. Above that, Parker built a three-suite boutique hotel that features entryways on South Street and through Ms. Tootsie’s. “The lodging aspect is something that I thought the city has been in need of for all the convention and tourism business,” Parker told Grub Street. “Quite often people ask me to design or decorate their homes, and based on that I thought it would be nice to have a store where people could see and purchase the kinds of things that I like to decorate with.”
Ms. Tootsie’s now features deep-black Sambuca flooring and all new seating downstairs. Upstairs an R&B vibe is set with a red and black scheme highlighted with black and white photos of musicians. On the third floor, newly commissioned art and velvet walls set the tone for what Parker calls the Skybar, and on the fourth floor the lounge is outfitted with leather couches, flat screen TVs, steel grey velvet accents and metallic damask.
In addition to the restaurant’s new looks, and its newly opened neighboring businesses, Ms. Tootsie’s menu has also been retooled some. Soulful staples like chicken and waffles and fried catfish remain on the bill fare, new items like lobster macaroni and cheese, Bourbon-braised short ribs and home fries, and herb-crusted grilled lamb chops and fried apples have been added.
“It’s the changing of times,” Parker said of his huge undertaking. “It was time for us to upgrade and re-style to keep up with those changes.”