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April Showers Brought Growth to Laurel

April was a busy month for the City Beautiful and featured several new business expansions and opportunities.

On Monday, April 1st at 10:30 a.m. Jack’s Family Restaurant opened the chain’s first ever Laurel location. It is the company’s 255th store.  The event was marked by a ceremony and ribbon cutting hosted by the Jones County Chamber of Commerce.

A live stream of the event can be viewed at:  https://www.facebook.com/jonescountychamber/videos/1607562056689528

On April 9th at 10:30 a.m. Kim’s No Bull broke ground on their new dealership at 1635 Grandview Drive. (For more information, visit: https://www.laurelms.com/kims-no-bull-breaks-ground-on-new-location/)

On Tuesday, April 16th, The Jones County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the opening of The Last Dragon Chinese Restaurant with a ribbon cutting. The event had been scheduled to take place the week before but was rescheduled due to inclement weather. But the storm clouds cleared and the Suarez family were able to take center stage at the inspiring event.

Chico Suarez and his wife Angelica opened Mi Casitas in Laurel in the early 2000s and have been a staple of the community ever since. Recently, they decided to open a Chinese restaurant in the City Beautiful as an homage to the restaurant where Mr. Suarez began his career.

The Last Dragon’s menu tells the story as follows:

“In 1990, an eager Chico Suarez made his way from Mexico to America, with little more than a dream in his possession. But at only 16 years old, Chico knew in order to actually achieve that dream, he’d have to make up for what he lacked in education with his strong work ethic. He settled down in Atlanta, Georgia and accepted a position as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant called BoBo China. As with everything he does, he gave that job his full effort. Within a year, he had started learning the art of cooking Chinese food. He loved the cooking methods, the ingredients, the delicious flavors of the dishes, and the Chinese history and culture intertwined in each unique recipe. He even learned to speak a few words of the Chinese language.

“In 1994, Chico was offered a position in a Mexican restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama. There he delved into the flavors of his youth and honed his skills as both a chef and in restaurant management. His employers took notice and Chico was appointed as the head chef at numerous establishments.

“In 1998, Chico married the love of his life, Angelica. He was then offered a management position in Birmingham, Alabama so the young couple relocated. Soon after their move, they welcomed their beautiful daughter, Bianca. By 2002, still in management, Chico was ready to make a big change. So the Suarez family packed their bags and moved to, “The City Beautiful” Laurel, Ms. Chico had big dreams for this sweet little town. Not long after the move, Chico opened the doors of his first restaurant to the enthusiastic and welcoming residents of Laurel. Mi Casitas quickly became a town staple, known for its delicious Mexican cuisine and friendly service. Chico and Angelica then welcomed 2 more beautiful children, Adilene and Onesimo, and they made their forever home right here in Laurel.

“Over twenty years passed with Chico managing Mi Casita and enjoying his life with his family in south Mississippi. When the opportunity to get back to his humble beginnings and open a Chinese restaurant presented itself, just like that 16 year old boy all those years ago, Chico eagerly embarked on a new adventure.

“During construction, Chico was able to revisit the old BoBo China building, and actually incorporated some of the décor to pay homage to the restaurant where his love of Chinese cuisine first began.

“Last Dragon Chinese restaurant is proof that with hard work and God’s blessing, dreams do come true!”

Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee thanked the family for continuing to invest in Laurel and encouraged everyone to try the new restaurant’s menu. “It is good! I’ve experienced it! It’s worth it,” he said.

Last Dragon Chinese Restaurant is located at 3704 HWY 15 N in the former Pizza Hut building. They are open Tuesday – Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.- Friday and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 601.682.0823.

Finally, on April 23rd Community Bank celebrated opening a new location in downtown Laurel with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Chris Tullos of the Jones County Chamber of Commerce, thanked the organization for their continuing focus on community and “giving back with thankful hearts.”

The branch is located at 401 Central Avenue in Laurel in a building that was originally constructed as a bank in 1903 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

The newly opened branch marks the company’s seventh location in Jones County and its 55th location overall.

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