Former MLB player lives out dream with Gulfport business
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Downtown Gulfport has many fixtures and businesses to serve the second largest city in Mississippi and its tourists. However, a daiquiri shop owned by a former MLB player sticks out from the rest of the crowd.
After a professional career that spanned a decade, Wiggins native Fred Lewis decided to enjoy retirement from baseball by playing a new position, business owner of The Press Box Daiquiri Lounge.
Opening in 2019, the Stone County High standout wanted his shop to pay homage to his time with the San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets.
“I actually came back to Mississippi and said, ‘You know what? Why not here?’” Lewis said.
From a replica baseball locker, to a bar made out of bats, Lewis took inspiration from his time on the diamond to create something unique.
“There’s nobody else doing stuff like this,” he said. “I consider it the strongest daiquiris on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
Despite being open for less than two years, Lewis says he has seen highs and lows with his shop which is a reality he wants more people to understand if they plan on opening a business of their own.
“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it,” he said.
As The Press Box was starting out COVID-19 was surging in China before making its way to the U.S., forcing Lewis to find unique solutions to the economic problems.
“Just like the game of baseball, it’s a game of inches,” said Lewis. “There’s always something to learn.”
Like most businesses during that time, staffing issues and pandemic protocols hurt the bottom line. But South Mississippi rallied around Lewis just like in his playing days.
“I’m thankful for the great people of Gulfport for allowing me to bring this here,” he said.
Now, he wants to give advice to those who have dreams of being in his shoes.
“When you have a dream and it’s something you see yourself doing, act on it,” he said.
Along with a daily happy hour, the Press Box is holding a bottomless daiquiris party next month.
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