VALDOSTA -- Lulu's is bringing the uptown downtown.

So says Lulu's owner Mary Anna Smith, who has just expanded her restaurant to include a wine and cocktail lounge and a new private dining room.

"This is an idea that has been in the works for some time now," Smith said. "This was just the best time to do it."

While waiting for a table, or just to have a drink with friends, patrons to the restaurant off North Patterson Street, can sit upstairs in one of the plush chairs or couches, while being served by the bartender, and enjoying the lowered lights and the contemporary, yet elegant, surroundings.

Up another set of stairs, patrons can sit at bar tables and watch the goings on of the people below.

Lulu's serves drinks starting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, during dinner hours and after. Patrons can also enjoy entertainment with their spirits, as Smith has arranged for a jazz band to play in December.

"We now have a full cocktail bar, whereas before, we only had beer and wine," Smith said. "We have a bartender now, who can make whatever you want."

The bar table area is where the public portion of the restaurant ends, but it is not the end of the expansion for Lulu's. What was once Smith's office, is now an intimate private dining room, perfect for business luncheons, meetings and special occasions.

The space has the same hardwood flooring that is original to the building, and has the same transom windows.

The larger windows overlook the street, and according to Smith, the view is beautiful at night. The room must be reserved, and a variable usage fee is required.

"It's a great use of space," Smith said. "I was just puttering around this large room, and now I feel like it has a lot of purpose."

The room also has a lot of history, as it was once part of a dress shop in the 1960s. Because of this, Smith named the room the Whittington Room, after the people who once owned it.

Smith said construction began in May on the upstairs portion of the restaurant, and with construction and paperwork, the project was over in November. Smith hosted a grand opening which she said was a great success.

Besides dinner, Lulu's is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We have been open for seven years and I believe there is a rule that change should happen in a business every few years," Smith said. "So we went for it, and I believe it will be a great success."

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