Upstairs Down Stairs, 33 Years and Still Going Strong

BY NANCY BAKER FAUL

Picture yourself living on “The Point” in Biloxi in 1977. Elvis is still the king and casinos didn’t exist in this quiet little southern fishing town. When the work day was done, and the sun seemed to sink into Gulf; everyone searched for excitement and yearned to hear the sounds of a live band playing in the night.  The Mattina brothers were paying close attention and decided to open a new club…actually two clubs in one!  The Downstairs came to be in September of 1977, and on New Years eve, The Upstairs opened it’s doors for business as well. Downtown Biloxi would never be the same. Glenn Mattina, Sr. and his brother Nick, worked hard to make their dream of a really high-class nightclub come into being. The building they chose was already rife with history from 1909 on. The concept was to have 2 clubs in one. The Upstairs opened with ‘Biloxi Packing Company’ taking the stage with Dave Duddley at the helm. Locals and military flocked onto the dance floor and the ‘joint was jumpin’ until the wee hours of the morning. Every week there was a new band slated to play. From ‘The Drifters’ to ‘Jerry Fisher & Music Co.’ and ‘Zappatas’ Revolution’, the club rocked on through good times and bad. Hurricanes came and leaving damage every time. There was a fire in 1990 that destroyed the Upstairs and water from the fire hoses heavily damaged the Downstairs. That was the first major remodel. Things were going very well but the casinos began to arrive on the coast. Nick Mattina said, “The business took an initial hit in the early days of the casinos but we stuck it out and survived.  Our loyal patrons remained for the most part and we just had to roll with the times.” During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, The Upstairs Downstairs, deemed “the Stairs” by it’s loyal customers, also played host to some huge names in the music industry. After concerts elsewhere on the coast, many celebrities would unwind and relax or sometimes get really rowdy with their road crews in tow.  Nick added, “Ozzy, Janie Fricke, Sheena Easton and even Batman’s’ Adam West came in to hang out and, more often than not, would ‘sit in’ with the band that was playing that night. Movie stars, NFL, NBA and MLB athletes were found in the club on a regular basis. In fact, when a band known as ‘Rumors’ was playing at the Upstairs Downstairs, Barry Lyons from the New York Mets came in. That night would change his life forever. The lead singer for the band, Marsha Daniels, would soon become Mrs. Barry Lyons. Stories like that one are part of what make the history of the club so rich and wonderful. Nick said, “In those days, we never knew who would show up to hang out and sit in with the band for a song or two. Since the 90’s, the club has changed but the old ‘hometown’ feeling is still there. Karaoke is popular in the downstairs club, and the upstairs is a sports bar and dance club with a DJ.” Another reason to go to the Upstairs Downstairs is for the delicious food! A recent $30,000 Kitchen renovation has enabled the staff to prepare great meals.  Guests no longer have to leave the club to eat dinner. The menu offers many delicious entrees for a nominal price. Nick said, “We have enjoyed the sounds of many unique artists over the years and the casinos coming to town has actually served to bring more people to the coast that flow through the club. Remembering that before ‘3 Doors Down’ made it big, they played the Stairs all the time… that is another thing I like to smile about. They were scheduled to play one weekend and Todd called me up and said he had to cancel.  I was shocked and asked him why.  He said, ‘We gotta go to New York and sign a contract but we’ll make it up to you man!’ And make it up they did. I am so proud of those boys.” 33 years have passed since the opening on New Year’s Eve in 1977. The stories of visits by Lou Diamond Phillips, Alan Thicke, David Copperfield and more continue to resonate. The musical moments that happened within the walls of the Stairs, are also the stuff that legends are made of.  Happy Anniversary and thank you for 33 remarkable years!  The Upstairs Downstairs is located at 785 Howard Avenue near Biloxi Regional Medical Center. Contact the club @ 228-374-5291.

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