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Graduate Hotel rooftop becomes a popular spot

Oxford residents looking for a place that offers food, drinks and a great view will find it at the Graduate Hotel at 400 North Lamar Boulevard that opened this fall with a terrace lounge and restaurant.

Gerald Peralta, 35, is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He earned a bachelor’s of business administration degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, and today, he is the general manager of food and beverages at Graduate Hotel.

“The Coop is a contemporary terrace lounge with design elements that hint of yesterday’s elegance mingled with sleek industrial touches,” he said. “These include custom damask wallpaper, cool concrete floors mixed with crystal chandeliers and farmhouse fixtures.”

Located on the fourth floor, The Coop offers views of the Square and a full-service food menu of Southern classics and cocktails.

The kitchen is run by Jon Davis and offers a distinct menu of shareable snacks, sliders and tamales.

Menu highlights include Delta Tamales made with local Grit Girl cornmeal. One flavor called Neshoba County Fair (an iconic Mississippi event) is made with Williams Brothers Smoked Sausage and Comeback Sauce.

The Delta Tamales were inspired by the regional history of the dish, which also inspired the 1936 blues hit “They’re Red Hot” from blues master and Mississippi native, Robert Johnson.

Other menu items include beef, pulled pork and spicy Cajun sliders.

You can also order plain or loaded fries, such as barbecue pork fries with pulled pork, cheddar cheese, scallions, and cilantro; and queso Fries with chopped tomatoes, green chilies, and Monterey Jack queso sauce.

The bar’s drink menu features cocktails with Southern flare, including the Southern Style Mojito with rum, house-milled peach purée, local peach schnapps, fresh lime juice and agave; Southern Peach Lemonade with Ole Smoky peach moonshine and house-made peach lemonade; and the Huckleberry Finn Margarita with Jose Cuervo, Cointreau, raw local honey, fresh blackberry purée and fresh lime juice. Guests can also enjoy seasonal draught beers from some of the South’s favorite breweries.

The Coop also has a vintage upright piano that allows for live music every night.

Peralta said the area is 2,000 square feet and will hold 150-180 maximum.

He said a bartender is on the property during the hours of operation in both The Coop and the lobby bar.

The place to be

Weekends are the busiest, especially Friday from 5-7 p.m. and during sporting events.

“Word has steadily been increasing since opening,” he said. “We have seen a good mix of local clientele and hotel guest usage.

“The location of Graduate Oxford offers such a wonderful view of the Square, and we wanted to give guests staying with us, as well as locals, the opportunity of enjoying the view, while having a drink or meal with friends. It’s a great place to watch a sunset.”

Peralta said the lounge and restaurant has proven hugely popular during football season.

“Once we opened in September, word got out,” he said. “Typically, the busiest nights are Friday and Saturday. We’ve started to see a lot of local clientele using the bars on Friday.

“After happy hour, people come up here. Any sporting event that showcases Ole Miss, we actually get a pretty good crowd. The bar is full.”

Peralta said there are 12 seats at the bar.

“We want to make sure that our local clientele and hotel guests always know it is open to the public,” he said. “Right now, we’re popular for our meals.”

Peralta said the bar offers some propane heaters in wintertime.

“We want to integrate with the community,” he said, “and be a part of what Oxonians love about being in Oxford and come back to show their kids and other generations what they have experienced.”

The Coop is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, please call 662-234-3031 or visit www.graduateoxford.com or www.graduatehotels.com. You can like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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