Who is Johnny T?

John Tierre (photo by Imani Khayyam/JFPMenus.com)

by Patrick Kelly

John Tierre is living the dream. This local Jackson, MS entrepreneur is a true renaissance man who always has an eye on the future. Ironically, his restaurant and bar, Johnny T’s Bistro & Blues, draws from the storied past of the historic Farish Street District where it’s located in downtown Jackson, Mississippi.

Johnny T’s is housed in the old Crystal Palace, a legendary club that hosted the likes of Redd Fox and Sammy Davis, Jr. during its 1940s heyday – and Tierre’s blues club is worthy of the historical lineage of the beautifully renovated building.

By combining his passion for design, music, and fine food and drinks, Tierre has carved out his little empire in Jackson, an empire that appears only to be growing.

Tierre grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where he excelled in tennis. He came to Jackson to play tennis for Jackson State University under their legendary tennis coach, Willie Richardson. Tierre fell in love with Jackson and has become one of its brightest young business owners.

After graduating from Jackson State, Tierre started his own t-shirt company called Block Wear. The success of Block Wear encouraged him to continue branching out, so he opened a barbershop and a hair salon. He also earned his stripes in the music business working as both a promoter and producer of local acts. Those businesses were closely followed by his first restaurant, Norma Ruth’s, located on Highway 80. Norma Ruth’s is a counter-service place that was quickly embraced by the surrounding community. It’s also the success that inspired Tierre to continue pushing the culinary envelope in his adopted hometown – but he knew he would need a full-service restaurant to achieve his dreams, which led him to the building that once housed the Crystal Palace.

In the kitchen, Tierre found a real gem in Chef Brian Myrick. His experience at local fine-dining establishments like CHAR Restaurant left him well versed in Southern fusion and New Orleans inspired cuisines. Those cuisines put Jackson on the culinary map, and chefs like Myrick who are serving surprising and inspiration fare are what will keep it there.

But Tierre didn’t stop with the food. He assembled a stunning list of whiskeys and cognacs that rival the best in the area. Johnny T’s also features complimentary wine tastings each week as well as a progressive craft cocktail menu.

Anyone who’s been around Jackson for a few years knows that countless attempts have been made to revitalize the Farish Street area. During its prime, Farish Street was bustling and crowded as Beale Street in Memphis. Of late, however, efforts at restoration have struggled to gain a foothold. Johnny T’s is emerging as the best bet in the area, alongside mainstays Big Apple Inn and F Jones Corner.

John Tierre is redefining Jackson on his terms. He is a tireless entrepreneur in the most real sense and is always looking for ways to improve. Johnny T’s is a culmination of all of its owner’s passions: food, wine, and spirits combine with design and live music to create a truly unique destination for Jacksonians.

I pointed this out to Tierre, and he said, “It absolutely represents everything I love.”

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