Through his business, Dave Hood has given back to his community and made the Tavern an integral part of our town.
“Starkville is a gem in the state of Mississippi,” says Hood. “This town cares about its community.”
Hood is the owner of Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern which offers New York style specialty pizzas, gyros, burgers, salads, and wraps as well as weekly live music and entertainment.
Supporting The Community
Over the two and a half decades he has been in business, Hood has provided a lot of community support by hosting fundraisers, supporting local musicians, participating in local tourism events, and sponsoring youth sports teams.
In 2020, Hood hosted musicians at the Tavern for a live music festival to benefit the Rodgers Family. The family was in a car accident and needed assistance covering their medical bills.
During the Christmas holidays, Hood wanted to bring a little cheer to our first responders. He donated pizzas from the Tavern to the police station and OCH Regional Medical Center.
Hood also recently helped a local Boy Scout complete his eagle project. The team constructed 6 cat houses to be used at the Oktibbeha County Humane Society.
“I’m a huge fan of the Humane Society,” says Hood. “This is a neighborhood kid and I was happy to help him coordinate and supervise this project.”
Creating a Welcoming Space
Hood thinks of the Tavern as a community — a place where everyone is welcome to sit back and enjoy a drink or a meal or listen to some music.
“I’ve worked hard to create a place where everyone is welcome and feels safe no matter of your orientation or appearance or anything,” says Hood. “My staff is very diverse which spills over into the crowd. We are truly a tavern.”
Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern serves as a gathering place for people from all walks of life.
For example, the University Baptist Church holds a monthly interfaith meeting at the Dark Horse Tavern. During the pandemic, the Tavern hosted the UBC privately on a few Sundays so that they had a location from which to live stream worship services.
“I’ve worked hard to create a place where everyone is welcome and feels safe”
Supporting Local Musicians & Artists
The Dark Horse Tavern is a cornerstone of the local music scene. The venue has had live music six nights a week for many years.
During the pandemic, the Tavern hosted musicians who live-streamed on Facebook in a series called “The Tavern Couch Concert Series.”
During the livestream, donations were collected to go into a general fund to help pay each Couch Concert entertainer $50 for their livestream.
Dozens of local musicians participated in the Couch Concerts – some broadcasting from the Del Rendon Stage at the Tavern and some from their own homes.
In addition to supporting musicians at the Tavern, Hood has been a pivotal part of The Del Rendon Foundation since its inception in 2006.
“Del Rendon was an amazing musician and artist who always treated others like they were rock stars,” states Hood.
The Foundation has striven to support local talent in both the music and art fields, both financially as well as providing a platform for their abilities. This includes scholarships, showcases, events, and more.
Supporting Tavern Employees
The Tavern shut down on March 15th due to the severity of the pandemic and was closed for over 7 months. Hood started a GoFundMe campaign to help support their staff and musicians who had lost a source of income.
Through this campaign, they raised over $17,000 to support staff and musicians. This funding helped get his staff through a tough time until they were able to begin receiving assistance from the government.
Bringing a Little Magic to Starkville
Starting in his days working in the Bully III to when he opened the space as Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern, Hood has always loved the building that the Tavern is in.
“There’s some magic in [the Tavern] – the arches add to the charm,” states Hood.
Through his contributions to the community, Hood has shared some of this magic around Starkville.
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