Restaurateurs plan fast casual concept for empty service station

The empty service station at the corner of Jackson Street and Highway 182 will soon become a new fast casual taco restaurant. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

A new fast casual eatery will open this spring at the corner of Jackson Street and Highway 182, which the owners hope will spur further development along the corridor.

Humble Taco is the brainchild of Eat Local Starkville, which is owned by Starkville attorney Brian Kelley and chef Ty Thames. Kelley and Thames will also bring Restaurant Tyler general manager Hunter Smith into the mix for the new restaurant.

The trio will be the primary partners heading up Humble Taco, which will have a facade and name inspired by the Humble Oil Company that formerly operated a service station at the intersection dating back to the 1930s.

In addition to the upcoming culinary incarnation, Eat Local Starkville currently operates Restaurant Tyler, City Bagel, Bin 612 and The Guest Room.

While working to maintain the structural integrity of the historic property, Kelley said his hope is for Humble Taco to be a catalyst that leads to other great things through the corridor.

"We have had this vision to help revitalize 182 for a while now and are really excited to get started," Kelley said. "Starkville has been so good to us over the past 12 years and we believe that the revitalization of Highway 182 is something that this community really wants to see happen."

Humble Taco will add an estimated 30 new jobs to the area.

The group is currently working with Shafer Zahner Zahner architects and Jamison Fry Interior Design for the renovation and restaurant design.

The restaurant will feature the service station's garage doors in their original location, which will open onto a large patio dining area complete with a bocce ball court.

"I am really proud of what we do at Eat Local Starkville and am really happy to be a partner in Humble Taco," Smith said. "I’ve met so many great people at Restaurant Tyler and am looking forward to seeing lots of familiar faces one block over at Humble Taco."


The fast casual concept will feature a "menu combining the flavors of the South with Mexico and focusing on quality ingredients utilizing local farmers.”

Thames said the eatery plans to offer something Starkville does not currently have and is going to love.

Thames, a native Mississippian, studied at the New England Culinary Institute before returning to open a restaurant in Starkville with Kelley, who was his college roommate.

"We are going to blend together the flavors of the south with the flavors of Mexico and continue to utilize our local farmers for our meats and vegetables," Thames said. "We’ve got a great local source for corn to make our scratch made tortillas. We’ve got a great smoker on the way that I can’t wait to get my hands on."