Gus Stevens: A man, a restaurant, a pioneering nightclub

Full story: The South Mississippi Sun Herald

Gus Stevens' Coast legacy is more colorful than the beachfront oleanders that lured him here in 1946.

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shannon

Longwood, FL

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#1
Dec 30, 2007
 
I worked for Steve Stevenson at his place Hamilton's in Panama City Beach for around two years in my early twenties and I had know idea about his father and how he grow up. Wish I did know this at the time, I bet he has some good stories.
Lando Chainsaw

Metairie, LA

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#2
Jul 3, 2008
 
my grandfather defended him when he was wrapped into the death of jayne mansfield because it was his buick
a former employee

Boise, ID

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#3
Jul 24, 2008
 
I worked for Gus at his Biloxi restaurant in the late 1960's. He was a slave driver who had little respect for his employees. He was the cheapest person I'd ever come across, but man was he a hard worker. The only employees who he was nice to were a couple of Greek cooks. One minute Gus would be walking around wearing a coat & tie bossing everyone around and the next minute he would be in the kitchen washing dishes. He didn't trust anyone. He always thought that people were trying to cheat him. He did not always honor contracts with entertainers he hired. If an entertainer, appearing in the supper-club, was not bringing in enough customers he would tell them to hit the road (the hell with the contract). He once burned his arm and face while burning cardboard boxes in the back gravel parking lot trash pile. He refused to go to the emergeny room becuase it would cost too much and instead rubbed packets of butter slices on his burns. There was illeagal gambling in the lounge. He even out a slot machine in the kitchen to make money off the busboys and other employees.
Renee Brown

United States

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#4
Aug 22, 2008
 

Judged:

2

When Ronnie harrison was killed in the Jayne Mansfield accident as her driver,his daughter was pregnant with Harrisons child. The old man made her give the child up for adoption, so I have no doubt he was a true bullying ass.
Angie Lathrop

Oklahoma City, OK

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#5
Aug 23, 2008
 

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I am the child of Elaine Stevens and Ronnie Harrison. Elaine and I found each other about eight years ago and were re-united on Mother's Day 2000. I never met Gus, but I have heard numerous interesting stories...
Patty

Wheeling, WV

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#6
Nov 2, 2008
 
My Mother worked at the restaurant in the early 50's and I have a lot of photos of people who came to the house for a birthday party. I wonder if anyone remembered her... her name was Lela.
Sis

Winchester, VA

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#7
Dec 12, 2008
 
Mt father was a bartender at Gus Stevens back in 1963. His name was Jack. Anyone remember him?
Kelly Stone

Fort Smith, AR

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#8
Jan 2, 2009
 
Right on! You're 100% correct, he was the cheapest crook on the coast. I used to drive one of the NOLA folks over to pick up the "dues". He paid only because he had to but did he ever piss and moan.
Kelly Stone

Fort Smith, AR

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#9
Jan 2, 2009
 
I remember Jack the bartender. He alway took care of me while I waited for Pas Marcello to visit with Gus. Good man with great comment, sly wit with dry humor. I liked him.
rick koler

Bexley, Australia

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#10
Jan 5, 2009
 
Patty wrote:
My Mother worked at the restaurant in the early 50's and I have a lot of photos of people who came to the house for a birthday party. I wonder if anyone remembered her... her name was Lela.
Because Lela worked at Gus Stevens in the 50's she would have been there when Al Belletto played with his combo; and when they accompanied Mel Torme. That meeting and the ripple-on affect of that time created a national tour, a Capitol records contract and life changing music career paths.
If your mother Lela is still alive, I would love to correspond with her to get more details about Gus Stevens in the 50's - grateful for any help.
rick koler

Bexley, Australia

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#11
Jan 5, 2009
 
Patty, because Lela worked at Gus Stevens in the 50's she would have been there when Al Belletto played with his combo; and when they accompanied Mel Torme. That meeting and the ripple-on affect of that time created a national tour, a Capitol records contract and life changing music career paths.
If your mother Lela is still alive, I would love to correspond with her to get more details about Gus Stevens in the 50's - grateful for any help.
Sis

Winchester, VA

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#12
Jan 18, 2009
 
Does anyone remember an incident outside of Gus Stevens in the parking lot in 1963 (I think). A man took a girl form a car and took off with her. I have been trying for years to find some information on this.
Rick

Biloxi, MS

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#13
Aug 29, 2009
 
Gus was the most selfish person I ever knew.
John Mitchell

AOL

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#14
Oct 9, 2009
 
I am Gus' nephew, Gus was a businessman the coast is what it is today because of him he had the vision of casinos back in the 60's you can think wnat you want he was tough on me but he is the reason the coast is what it is today. Elaine and I were close growing up maybe he was to hard on her but she is a good business person today because of him.
Tom

Biloxi, MS

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#15
Oct 10, 2009
 
A business man? He was a crook. Rick is right.. Gus was selfish. I remember after Hurricane Camile, nobody had fresh water to drink. But Gus had a water well at his business on Hwy 90. The coast was under marshall-law and no one had electric power, water, or food. Gus had a table and chair in his parking lot and a homemade sign that said "Water 10 cents a glass". He was selling glasses of water to the public. It was set up like a kid's lemonade stand. I saw it with my own eyes. Yea, he was a business man. Now that's a business man that the coast could be proud of.
Chris B

Biloxi, MS

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#16
Oct 13, 2009
 
Does anyone remember during the late 60's, Dave Gardner, George the Greek cook, Robbie the black cook, Mike Mitchell (always with a big cigar planted in his jaw), Maria the dinner hostess, the coffe shop, the supper club, the balloon man...? I could go on and on. That was the good ole days.
Patty

Canfield, OH

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#17
Jan 17, 2010
 
Hello,
What a shock to read your reply. I hadn't checked the site after posting.
My Mother is deceased but today...I was looking through my albums and came across our backyard party which... either it was Gus's wife or Daughter..with my Mom.
There were two little girls also in the photo.
I'll check this soon to see if there is a response.
Patty
rick koler wrote:
Patty, because Lela worked at Gus Stevens in the 50's she would have been there when Al Belletto played with his combo; and when they accompanied Mel Torme. That meeting and the ripple-on affect of that time created a national tour, a Capitol records contract and life changing music career paths.
If your mother Lela is still alive, I would love to correspond with her to get more details about Gus Stevens in the 50's - grateful for any help.
Patty

Canfield, OH

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#18
Jan 17, 2010
 
I would love to have you see a photo ... to see if you recognize the woman with My Mom... who worked there at Gus's.
Patty
John Mitchell wrote:
I am Gus' nephew, Gus was a businessman the coast is what it is today because of him he had the vision of casinos back in the 60's you can think wnat you want he was tough on me but he is the reason the coast is what it is today. Elaine and I were close growing up maybe he was to hard on her but she is a good business person today because of him.
ex-airman from louisiana

Greenwell Springs, LA

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#19
Jan 19, 2010
 
I was stationed at Keesler in '63 and I saw Brother Dave Gardner there for the first time. I subsequently saw him several more times, but I'll always remember going AWOL and taking the bus to Gulfport and walking back to the base afterwards. Our barracks chief knew I was going (I told him in advance) and he said, "Just be in your bunk at bed-check." I was. I was fully dressed and had the blanket pulled up over me with my feet sticking out and my shoes already on, ready to go. He came through the barracks with his flashlight, took one look at my feet, called me by name, and said, "You could at least be a little more subtle."
Niece of Cousin Easy

Saint Louis, MO

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#20
Feb 28, 2010
 
Hi, My aunt was/ is Cousin Easy of Jeb and Cousin Easy. She remembers performing at Gus's club in Biloxi, and tells me that Gus was always nice to her and Jeb. She remembers the dancing, the band playing, Gus, and Dave Gardner. She says her favorite memory was when a church group came to visit at the club. She and Jeb were going to perform "The Golf Game," and Gus told them to "clean it up." She laughs as she tells me that she wasn't sure how to clean up double meaning so she decided they would just do the "Bullfight" routine. She was laughing because one routine is about as clean as the other because as she explains, it is what you have in your head.

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