Jane Rob Pannell
Throughout Mississippi, Southern hospitality is shown in many ways. However, in the Mississippi Delta, it’s often demonstrated through food. Bill Burrus, 51, a Greenwood native and former sports journalist, has started a new occupation as a restaurant owner.
Burrus graduated from Greenwood High School in 1987, then attended Mississippi State University, earning a degree in sports communications. After college, he worked as a sports reporter for The Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper. He was later promoted to sports editor.
Last August, Burrus wrapped up a 28-year career in that position.
“I enjoyed telling the stories of a lot of great local athletes, getting to know them and sometimes their families along the way,” he said. “And of course, getting paid for going to games was pretty high on the list. Everyone has a story. You just have to dig sometimes to find that story, so I really enjoyed writing about those who weren’t super stars or featured players.”
Although he wrote about many local athletes, he also covered a few who made it to the big leagues.
“One of my favorite memories is covering the late Kent Hull’s induction into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame during a game against the Oakland Raiders in 2003 in Orchard Park, New York,” said Burrus. “Hometown hero receives tremendous NFL honor. The story almost writes itself.”
After 28 years of amazing memories, late nights, and early mornings, Burrus decided to put down his pen. While this was a hard decision, he feels confident it was the right one.
“It was just time for a change after 28 years,” he said. “It’s been a month and a half since I stepped down, and I miss the storytelling part of it, but not much else. I had just burned out – 28 years at the same place, same desk.”
Sports writing will always be part of him, although Burrus said the world of sports journalism has changed dramatically in recent years. While some newspapers are fading, he said online journalism is expanding. His advice: “Think outside the box.”
That’s what Burrus and his wife, Karyn Burrus, are in the process of doing. They are opening a new restaurant in Greenwood called “The Vine.” Karyn Burrus has owned the catering business, Grapevine Catering, for 25 years. Opening a restaurant has been a dream.
“The difference between the catering business and the restaurant business is that, in a restaurant, the preparation is immediate, but in catering, there is a lot more preparation time,” Karyn Burrus said.
Located in a swanky, all-white building in downtown Greenwood, The Vine will serve a variety of food.
“The move into the restaurant business has been in the plans for some time, but the timing, place, etc. was never right,” Bill Burrus said. “And then, this opportunity fell in our laps. We’re combining Karyn’s catering business with the restaurant, and a storefront will only boost an already successful catering company.”
From top-tier salads and a killer patty melt, to shrimp and grits, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, offering a sophisticated, yet casual dining experience. Bill Burrus said his favorite dish is the patty melt, dressed with candied bacon and grilled jalapenos.
One of his favorite parts of the new job is working with his wife. Although, he said things can get a little tense sometimes in the kitchen, which is part of the fun.
“I’m not sure there are words for what it’s like to work with Bill everyday,” Karyn Burrus said. “We make a good team. He is a huge help, but we do have our moments.”
Bill Burrus said he also enjoys cooking, and he feels lucky to have another job he loves, much like writing. He said his wife’s work ethic is one key component.
“Karyn has always been driven by the success of her small business since we met,” Bill Burrus said. “Anyone who has ever owned a small business knows you have to be driven and not afraid of hard work to be a success. She has a strong vision for the future.”
It’s a new journey for the Burrus family.
“I’m excited to adjust to the new daily grind, and work hard to make sure that a busy restaurant means a profitable one,” Bill Burrus said.