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Work begins on Mystic Grill

COVINGTON - The work required to turn fiction into fact in downtown Covington has begun. Renovations have started on the historic Clark Street building used in exterior shots as Mystic Grill on “The Vampire Diaries.”

The Covington City Council approved the closing of Hays Street from July 16 to Nov. 16 while construction is underway. The small street runs between Mystic Grill and the Newton County Historic Courthouse. The sidewalk directly in front of Mystic Grill will be closed.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston, co-owner of the business, recused himself and left the room during Monday night’s discussion.

The restaurant is a partnership between Johnston and his wife Kelley and John and Angela Beszborn, owners of Bullritos.

Previously, Angela Beszborn said they hoped to open the restaurant by summer. The owners issued a joint statement via email saying they don’t have a firm opening date.

“In the beginning, we ideally dreamed for a summer opening,” the statement reads. “However, when done correctly, these projects always take longer than initially hoped. Construction has started, but it is difficult to pin down an exact opening date. But we truly believe that anything of value is worth waiting for and by taking this extra time on the front end, we can ensure that the Mystic Grill will be an amazing fixture in the community for years to come!”

The owners also said they plan to preserve the historical authenticity of the building.

“Initially, we were drawn to the structure’s incredible connection with the past and the vital role that it plays in our beloved square; therefore, we would never do anything that could possibly detract from those crucial elements. In terms of renovation, any changes that we are making are attempts to bring the building back to its original glory.”

Alterations will include highlighting and revitalizing the original tin ceiling and opening up the grand arched windows lining Hays Street. Structural reinforcements will be added to allow for rooftop dining.

The restaurant will serve lunch and supper, “Southern comfort food with a touch of fine dining,” Beszborn previously said.

The building was heavily damaged by fire in 2012 and has been vacant ever since. Part of the historic district, the building was originally constructed in 1906 as home to the Bank of Covington.