Despite name, Total Ka-Os a restful place

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 10, 2001

Outside, a group of frazzled women adorn the brightly colored sign carrying the name of the newest business in downtown Natchez – Total Ka-Os on Main Street.

But just inside the door, soft music and the aroma of flavored teas beckon shoppers and diners into the quiet corners of the tea and gift shop.

&uot;We knew we wanted a space people could relax in,&uot; said co-owner Laura Hawkins. &uot;I hate to go in a place and feel like rushed. We don’t care how long they stay.&uot;

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Hawkins and her sister, Gail Hughes, opened their shop in early April after only a few hurried weeks in which the two – along with the help of Hawkins’ husband – converted the former loan office into a downtown getaway.

But before they could tackle the drab interior and office partitions of the shop, they had to move Hughes back to Natchez after almost 30 years of living in another state. And somewhere in the midst of the two projects, the sisters hit upon the name for their joint business venture – Total Ka-Os, pronounced like the word &uot;chaos.&uot;

&uot;It definitely earned its name before it was through!&uot; Hawkins said, laughing. &uot;And then we figured, if anything went wrong, we can blame it on the name.&uot;

It was Hughes who had the inspiration for the tea shop, having seen similar ones while living in Arkansas. Such a shop seemed appropriate in a town that celebrates gentile Southern hospitality, she said.

&uot;There wasn’t another one in Natchez, and we didn’t want anything that anybody else had,&uot; Hughes said.

Hawkins brings the talent to the kitchen, serving up specialty sandwiches, salads and desserts. &uot;People are eating lighter these days anyway. They’re more health conscious; it works out well,&uot; Hughes said.

And every day the shop offers a different flavored tea for customers to try. Hawkins prefers the hot version, but Hughes points out that the traditional iced tea is always available.

Lunch at Total Ka-Os is served from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with afternoon tea and dessert served until 5 p.m. The business is closed on Sunday.