A Time Machine (and Burger Joint): CS’s

CS's in midtown Jackson
Just perusing the walls of CS’s could get you through a beer or two (photo by Meghan Garner)

If you’re looking for a distinctly Mississippi take on the diner from the Broadway musical “Grease,” CS’s might just fit the bill. Ask anyone who attended Millsaps College in the last 100 years and they’ll likely have at least one story about eating—or, more often, drinking—at this nondescript brick building, though they may remember it as The College Grill, Adelle Grill, Hollingsworth’s Fine Foods, Everybody’s, or even The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house.

Of course, the experience has changed a lot throughout the decades. The music has gone from jukebox to 90’s grunge to “outlaw” country tunes. Booths have changed places, disappeared entirely, and come back with new upholstery. Different generations have enjoyed milkshakes, cokes, and beers.

But regardless of décor, ambiance, or beverage, the dining experience in this building has almost always involved a burger. It may be hard to believe upon first entering CS’s that any of these changes ever really happened. The walls and counter-tops are plastered with political bumper stickers for Mississippi candidates dating back to the 70’s—with no apparent discrimination as to party—and shelves along the back hold hundreds of beer cans so aged and dusty one imagines they’ve been there forever.

And it’s true that despite the many and varied faces this eatery has worn throughout the past century its basic character has remained true: a spot for everyone. College students can still linger over a cheap beer while trying to solve the world’s problems. Working stiffs can still grab a quick, satisfying lunch to get them through the afternoon. Retirees can still run into old friends and reminisce about their youth over a plate lunch special.

Jukebox invites you to stay a while (photo by Meghan Garner)
The classic jukebox is an invitation to stay a while (photo by Meghan Garner)

But CS’s has made some changes since the days of Everybody’s, Hollingsworth’s, Adelle’s, and the others. For one thing, everyone agrees the burgers are bigger. The Inez burger—topped with homemade chili, nacho cheese, and jalapeños— is a CS’s specialty that is particularly popular with the late night college crowd. This burger, along with other specialty burgers such as the Suzy, the Pat, and the Joe B, are all part of owner Pat Boland’s habit of naming menu items after employees and customers.

Perhaps more importantly, it’s part of the ongoing connection that CS’s shares with its customers both past and present, a responsibility passed down by each of its owners and incarnations.

The ownership may change, along with the name, the décor, and the menu. But the core of this beloved Jackson restaurant on N. West Street has stayed the same for 100 years.

Here’s hoping for 100 more.

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