Best of Jackson 2015: People | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson 2015: People

Brad Regan

Brad Regan Photo by Trip Burns.

Best Local Business Owner; Best Urban Warrior; Best Visionary: Jeff Good

Mangia Bene, 4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900


When Jeff Good and business partner Dan Blumenthal celebrated BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar's 21st New Year's Eve celebration, Good reflected on the people they've employed through the years. Their portfolio includes Jackson favorites such as Mangia Bene Catering, Sal & Mookie's New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint, Broad Street Baking Company and BRAVO!

He recounts receiving a note from an "alumnus" of Sal & Mookie's and how, as a result, he's opening a tapas bar in Brooklyn, N.Y. Knowing he can have that kind of influence—through not only providing a paycheck, but also mentorship—is satisfying work for Good.

That work also leads Good to jump in and get involved as an active citizen leader and visionary. "If you're waiting for someone else to address an issue, you may wait a long time," he says. "I realize I should be giving (back), not just taking."

"I think when the least of us have an opportunity for self-fulfillment, we (as a community) have arrived," Good says. —Julie Skipper

Best Local Business Owner Finalists

Chris Paige (Custom Cuts & Styles, 2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292) / Mario Tolliver (Pro Accurate Tax Service, 407 Briarwood Drive, Suite B4, 601-209-7124) / Stephanie Barnes (LaCru Salon, 5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 600, Flowood, 601-992-7980) / Phillip Rollins (Offbeat, 151 Wesley Ave.,

Best Urban Warrior Finalists

Ron Chane / Arden Barnett / Pam Greer / Brad Franklin

Best Visionary Finalists

Tony Yarber / Arden Barnett / Melvin Priester Jr. / Ron Chane

Best Bartender; Sexiest Bartender: Brad Regan

Julep Restaurant and Bar, 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 105, 601-362-1411

Apparently, Julep bartender Brad Regan is as complicated as the drinks he makes. At first glance, you see the tattoos and rock-star hair and make an assessment: He's sexy! But a few drinks and conversations in, and it's clear that this guy has skills, and not just with mixed drinks. He has the ability to make regulars and newcomers feel like there's no other bartender for them. With a mouth-watering martini list, it's no surprise that Jacksonians have voted Regan the city's best bartender for several years running.

For eight years of Julep's 11-year run, Regan has been a mainstay of the restaurant's atmosphere. At a time when bars have become a culture of their own, and mixologists are rock stars in their own right, it's refreshing to see a bartender take such pride in his work, and be personable enough to keep customers coming back again and again. —Shameka Hayes

Best Bartender Finalists

Ashley Lewis (The Bulldog, 6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502, / Robert Arender (The Apothecary at Brent's Drugs, 655 Duling Ave., 769-257-3517) Jimmy Quinn (La Finestra, 120 N. Congress St., 601-345-8735, / Jamie Moss (Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055,

Sexiest Male Bartender Finalists

Blake McDonald (The Bulldog, 6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502, / Cameron Lowery (Mellow Mushroom, 275 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-7499, / Jimmy Quinn (La Finestra, 120 N. Congress St., 601-345-8735, / Shawn Beer (The Bulldog, 6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502,

Best Barista: Caitlin McNally

Sneaky Beans, 2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349,


Caitlin McNally has held a top spot in the Best Barista lineup for years now. Two years ago, she won top rights, and this year, McNally latte'd and espresso'd past the competition once again to take first. Whether she's serving up breakfasts on Saturday mornings or fueling college students cramming for finals into the evening, McNally is an integral part of Sneaky Beans and the Fondren community. She is also a staunch supporter of living local, whether that means restaurants, events or music. —Kathleen M. Mitchell

Best Barista Finalists

Zach Lovett (Sneaky Beans, 2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349, / Tony Peacock (Cups Espresso Cafe, 210 E. Capitol St., #110, 601-352-0514, / Cody Cox (Cups Espresso Cafe, 2757 Old Canton Road, 601-362-7422, / Amanda Ivers (Cups Espresso Cafe, 210 E. Capitol St., #110, 601-352-0514,

Sexiest Female Bartender: Ashley Lewis

The Bulldog, 6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502,


Ashley Lewis' bartending skills go beyond her beauty and sex appeal. "She's also very funny, witty and has a great personality," says The Bulldog General Manager Valerie Alexander.

In addition to bartending, Lewis, who has been at The Bulldog for almost three years, is a full-time mom, manages Majestic Burger in Ridgeland during the day and still manages to keep all her customers happy.

She says her favorite part of bartending is getting to meet new people and make friends. She especially enjoys the exchanging of witticisms with some of her regulars.

"And the girl knows how to wear her glitter eye shadow," Alexander says. —Arcadia Smith

Sexiest Female Bartender Finalists

Courtney Boykin (Ole Tavern on George Street, 416 George St., 601-960-2700) / Laura Webb (Mellow Mushroom, 275 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-7499, / Dixie Krauss (Underground 119, 119 S. President St., 601-352-2322, Nicole Rogers (Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055)

Best Dressed: Amanda Powell


A newer Best of Jackson category, Best Dressed honors a true sense of style. Whether dressed down for activities with her daughter, Sawyer, or dressed up for a special occasion, Amanda Powell exudes Jackson chic.

"I just do my own thing," she says. "I never really think about it." Powell is a regular at stores like Material Girls, MiGi's and Libby Story. Her go-to outfit combines a cardigan, blazer, leather leggings and booties.

Powell's fashion sense extends beyond clothes. As a stylist at Plush Salon in Sola Salon Studios (151 E. Metro Parkway, Flowood, 601-720-5320), Powell also rocks flawless, shampoo-commercial hair and the makeup skills of a cosmetic artist.

Her favorite quote comes from "Sex and the City" character Carrie Bradshaw: "I like my money where I can see it: hanging in my closet." —Kathleen M. Mitchell

Best Dressed Finalists

Michele McGee / Nikki Henry / Michael Armstrong / Jimmy Wilson

Best Chef: Derek Emerson

Walker's Drive-In, 3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633,; Local 463 Urban Kitchen, 121 Colony Crossing, Suite A, Madison, 601-707-7684,; CAET Wine Bar, 3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169


Courtesy Andrew Dunaway

Photo courtesy Andrew Dunaway

Chef Derek Emerson recognizes that his success—at Walker's Drive-In, Local 463 Urban Kitchen and the recently opened CAET Wine Bar—is a result of his supportive team. "Our biggest philosophy is trying to surround ourselves with good people and putting out a good product," Emerson says.

While helming the kitchen of his three restaurants, Emerson has not only built a loyal crowd of patrons, but also earned critical accolades, including four nominations from the James Beard Foundation in the Best Chef: South category. He remains excited about the dining scene in Jackson, noting that eating out and spending time with family is "a southern way of life." For Jacksonians, so is Emerson's food. —Julie Skipper

Best Chef Finalists

Alex Eaton (The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, 1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, / Jesse Houston (Saltine Oyster Bar, 622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899) / Tom Ramsey (La Finestra, 120 N. Congress St., 601-345-8735) / Nick Wallace (The Palette Cafe by Viking, Mississippi Museum of Art, 380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515)

Best New Chef: Alex Eaton

The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, 1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562,


As an Eagle Scout, while most other campers packed Lunchables, Alex Eaton cooked over the open fire. That interest led him to Johnson and Wales School of Culinary Arts, where he graduated in 2009. After stints in New Orleans, Eaton returned home to serve as Table 100's chef de cuisine. He met Steven O'Neill, and the two decided to create their restaurant: The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen.

Eaton's food is "polished casual," where "you can get takeout on a weeknight, then come back on the weekend for a night out," he says. While Eaton says there's plenty of competition in Jackson's restaurant scene, he's up for the challenge. —Julie Skipper

Best New Chef Finalists

Alex Hammack (Broad Street Baking Company, 4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900) / Jessica Furches (The Islander Seafood and Oyster House, 1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 100, 601-366-5441) / Louis LaRose (Lou's Full Serv, 904B E. Fortification St., 601-487-6359) / Grant Hutcheson (The Pig & Pint, 3139 N. State St., 601-326-6070)

Best Visual Artist: Wyatt Waters

Wyatt Waters Gallery, 307 Jefferson St., Clinton, 601-925-8115,


Courtesy Matthew Brantley

Photo courtesy Matthew Brantley

Is it prophetic for someone named Waters to become famous for watercolors? It definitely was for Wyatt Waters, who recalls his first experiences painting at two and a half years old. "I was excited that I could make a motion with the brush and something would happen," he says.

When the painter isn't at the Wyatt Waters Gallery, he can usually be found in the metro area, painting his muses in soft lines and vivid colors. Even when he creates a watercolor piece "en plein air," Waters says he is largely ignored because people often mistake him for being homeless. He appreciates the rare occasion when a curious passerby stops to compliment his work. —LaTonya Miller

Best Visual Artist (Living) Finalists

Josh Hailey ( / Tony Davenport ( / Scott Allen (A+ Signs and Creative, 4147 Northview Drive, Suite A, 601-355-9595, Adrienne Domnick (

Best Facialist: Whitney Davis

The Nail Bar, 4800 Interstate 55 N., Suite 20, 769-216-2152


Courtesy Whitney Davis

Photo courtesy Whitney Davis

Beauty is a family business for Whitney Davis. Her father, Lyle Kleppelid, has been in the field of cosmetology for 45 years. When Davis graduated from Ridgeland High School in 2006, she enrolled at the Mississippi Institute of Aesthetics, Nails & Cosmetology in Clinton. By age 18, she was already working as a professional esthetician. She worked at the Blackledge Face Center for six years before joining The Nail Bar last July.

"When I say facial, (you) probably think about wiping a bunch of goo on your face, lying there with cucumbers on your eyes, and 20 minutes later, you're done," she says. Clients are often shocked that Davis spends an hour with them, learning about their face regimen and solving some of skincare's most puzzling riddles. —Micah Smith

Best Facialist Finalists

Rachel Bearden (Aqua The Day Spa, 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, 601-898-9123) / Sarah Jackson (The Face and Body Spa, 2550 Flowood Drive, Flowood, 601-939-1444) / Anne Geddie (Complexion, 622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-316-2325) / Deborah Ballou (Blackledge Face Center, 1659 Lelia Drive, 601-981-3033,

Best Hair Stylist: Nikki Henry

Ritz Salon, 574 Highway 51 N., Suite H, Ridgeland, 601-856-4330


In the span of a year, Nikki Henry rocketed from a third-place finish last year to winning the Best Hair Stylist category. After studying cosmetology at Mississippi Institute of Cosmetology, Byram native Henry has been making Mississippi heads more beautiful at Ritz Salon since 2012.

Henry's regular clients praise her knowledge, skills and style. She shares many of her clients' new looks on social media. Whether giving her clients a version of her own enviable ombre hair or trying a totally different style—from choppy layered bobs to bold, saturated color—Henry's ability and range is clear.

"Without my clients, I don't get to do what I love everyday," she says. "What I love doing is making people feel beautiful. ... To get recognized is an honor." —Kathleen M. Mitchell

Best Hair Stylist Finalists

Tiffany Jacobs (Studio J Salon at Sola Salon Studios, 151 East Metro Parkway, Suite 25, Flowood, 601-212-9130) / Paul Prine (Smoak Salon, 622 Duling Ave., Suite 206, 601-982-5313) / Olivia Herring Barrett (LIV studio at Sola Salon Studios, 151 East Metro Parkway, Suite 203, Flowood, 601-303-0083, / Griff Howard (Studio G Salon at Sola Salon Studios, 151 East Metro Parkway, Suite 203, Flowood,

In the original version of this story, we left Griff Howard off as a finalist for Best Hair Stylist. Jackson Free Press apologizes for this error.

Best Professor: Jeffrey Jackson

Mississippi College


Courtesy Mississippi College Law School

Photo courtesy Mississippi College Law School

Jackson has no shortage of higher-learning institutes, which means more skilled professors than you can shake a ruler at. For Jacksonians, Mississippi College School of Law professor Jeffrey Jackson represents the best when it comes to the city's educators.

The Pennsylvania native got his bachelor's degree in religion from Haverford College in Haverford, Pa., in 1978, and he received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1983. Jackson began teaching at the Mississippi College School of Law in 1987 and for the most part, has been there ever since.

The accomplished professor has received many awards, including the Award for Teaching Excellence at MC, and he has authored and edited 15 volumes on Mississippi law. Jackson's passion is law—and teaching his students.

"I've learned a heck of a lot more from my students than I could ever teach them," he says. —Amber Helsel

Best Professor Finalists

Garrad Lee (Hinds Community College) / James Bowley (Millsaps College) / George Bey (Millsaps College) / Noel Didla (Jackson State University)

Best TV Personality: Maggie Wade



Courtesy Maggie Wade

Photo courtesy Maggie Wade

Many Jacksonians equate watching the nightly news with one name: Maggie Wade. A broadcast journalist at WLBT since her senior year of college, Wade has a storied career behind her, as well as an Emmy nomination and more than 500 awards, locally and nationally. Most recently, Wade received the 2014 Woman of the Year Award from the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women.

Other than her daily journalism work, the Crystal Springs native is passionate about several charitable causes—most notably Wednesday's Child, which produces a segment featuring children hoping to move from foster care to permanent homes. Nearly 7,000 children have been adopted into families thanks to the features, and the United States Congress recognized Wade in 2011 as an Angel in Adoption for her work with Wednesday's Child. —Kathleen Mitchell

Best TV Personality Finalists

Megan West (WAPT, / Bert Case (WAPT, / Walt Grayson (WLBT, / Howard Ballou (WLBT,

Best Rising Entrepreneur: Steven O'Neill

The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, 1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562,


Jackson native Steven O'Neill is all about community. As managing partner of The Manship, he manages the bar and the restaurant's service. "You get out what you put in," he says. "The community is why I'm even nominated, so I always make sure to give back to the community."\

O'Neill urges young entrepreneurs to not become complacent and try to look to the future. When he isn't creating blueprints for future endeavors, O'Neill enjoys being with his wife, Wendi, spending time outdoors and working on the restaurant.

"The Manship is my work, my hobby; it's my everything," he says. —Maya Miller

Best Rising Entrepreneur Finalists

Tyler Raborn (Raborn Media, 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5203, Ridgeland, 601-624-3494) / Phillip Rollins (Offbeat, 151 Wesley Ave.) / Anthony Reppond (VIP Fitness, 119 Colony Crossing Way, Suite 660, Madison, 601-717-2429; 1139 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 601-624-5757) / Mario Tolliver (Pro Accurate Tax Service, 407 Briarwood Drive, Suite B4, 601-209-7124)

Best Server/Waitperson: Laura Webb

Mellow Mushroom, 275 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-7499,


For Laura Webb, caring for the customer is key to being the best server. Webb has worked for Mellow Mushroom for five years and was promoted to key hourly manager a little over a year ago. Choosing Mellow Mushroom as a place to work wasn't a difficult decision for her. She felt that it was a welcoming place and wanted to be a part of the team. Webb also enjoys watching "Law and Order: SVU" and drawing. —Maya Miller

Best Server/Waitperson Finalists

Ryne Morrow (Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055) / Michael Laborde (Babalu Tacos & Tapas, 622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757) / Cathy Ambrose (Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055) / Janis Boersma (Local 463 Urban Kitchen, 121 Colony Crossing Way, Suite A, Madison, 601-707-7684; CAET Wine Bar, 3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169)

Best Massage Therapist: Courtney Mansell

Licensed Massage Therapist


Courtesy Courtney Mansell

Photo courtesy Courtney Mansell

Count yourself lucky—and relaxed—if you're privileged enough to be on massage therapist Courtney Mansell's table. The recent transplant to the Belhaven area from Gluckstadt, Mansell (LMT 829) says she is at a point in her 10-year career where she is able to handpick her clientele. Now she only takes house calls and takes referrals from existing clients.

"Word of mouth is really good for me," she says. "I don't have to work with people I don't know."

When she's not massaging clients, Mansell loves hanging with friends, cooking and eating out. —LaTonya Miller

Best Massage Therapist Finalists

Martha Howell (Baptist Healthplex, 717 Manship St., 601-968-1766) / Jermaine Sims (Massage Envy Spa, 149 Market St., Flowood, 601-709-3689) / Karl Bombich (Warehouse Gym & Massage, 4435 Mangum Drive, Flowood, 601-345-8621) / Matthew Haynes (Blue Skyz Still Waters, 4460 Highway 80 W., 601-383-4747)

Best Fitness Trainer: Brittany Horton (The Club)


Courtesy Hubert Whorely

Photo courtesy Hubert Whorely

The Club on Lake Harbour, 511 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-605-9886; The Club at Olde Madison Plaza, 953 Highway 51, Madison, 601-856-2248; The Club at the Township, 340 Township Ave., Ridgeland, 601-856-0668;

Even before Brittany Horton became the personal training manager for The Club franchise, dancing and working out were her favorite pastimes. While attending the University of Mississippi, Horton joined the The Rebelettes. "They asked me to lead the team workouts because I was so into it," she says. After eight years, Horton's passion for fitness still garners attention from her Jackson trainees. —LaTonya Miller

Best Fitness Trainer Finalists

Terry Sullivan ( / Anthony Reppond (VIP Fitness, 119 Colony Crossing Way, Suite 660, Madison, 601-717-2429; 1139 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 601-624-5757) / Cam Woodall (Baptist Healthplex, 717 Manship St., 601-968-1766) / Curt McAfee (Kut Fit)

Best Public Figure: Barbie Bassett



Courtesy Kelli Boone Photography

Photo courtesy Kelli Boone Photography

WLBT meteorologist Barbie Bassett has an obvious talent for drawing people in. It's her hidden talents that may surprise you. While she is best known for forecasting sunny skies, Bassett is also an opera singer, pianist, author, public speaker and ventriloquist.

Bassett says she wishes she could use her ventriloquism with adults more often. Thus far, her books have focused on spiritual growth, but her speeches cover a range of topics, including goal setting, motivation, anti-bullying and spiritual growth. Bassett finds the most satisfaction in her anonymous mission projects and in donating her hair to make high-quality, free wigs for women who have lost their hair from cancer treatment. Great Lengths, a program that partners WLBT, St. Dominic's and the American Cancer Society, hosts its next Central Mississippi hair-cutting event on Monday, March 2. —LaTonya Miller

Best Public Figure Finalists

Jeff Good / Phil Bryant / Tony Yarber / Melvin Priester, Jr.

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