New restaurant manager jumped at Natchez chance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Proud as a new parent, Sally Bullard on Tuesday conducted a quick tour of the colorful interior at Ruby Tuesday’s, the Natchez restaurant she has followed to near completion and in which she has more than a small investment.

&uot;Fifteen days and counting,&uot; she said spiritedly, looking toward the Aug. 22 opening at 10:30 a.m.

The restaurant, with its distinctive architectural style, is eye-catching in its prominent location on the edge of TraceTown Shopping Center on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

Email newsletter signup

Bullard, managing partner at the eatery, beams as she points out dining areas, where more than 225 can be served at one time; the salad bar area, where more than 50 fresh items will be available for choosing; and the kitchen, where sparkling stainless steel appliances soon will crank up and put out some of the restaurant’s special American menus.

More than 10 years in the food business behind her, Bullard describes the Natchez venture in a satisfied tone. &uot;My daddy would be amazed,&uot; she said. &uot;I was the major college dropout. It was not for me.&uot;

Her late father was a mayor of Vicksburg, where Bullard and her five sisters and two brothers grew up. After her father’s stint as mayor, he was a chancery judge.

The six girls ruled the Bullard roost. &uot;We all were raised to be very opinionated. But because of my time in bartending, I guess, I tend not to be as refined as my mother, who is the perfect Southern lady.&uot;

Instead of a college degree, Bullard struck out in another direction, learning to wait tables and bartend. At one time, she worked at a bank in the daytime and tended bar at night. &uot;It didn’t take me long to figure out I made a lot more money tending bar.&uot; Interest in food and beverage jobs led her to Bennigan’s, where she stayed with the company for 10 years and became a manager. The opportunity to join Ruby Tuesday’s last year was one she couldn’t refuse, she said.

And she has done well. After a year in Lake Charles, La., she jumped at the chance to take on the Natchez restaurant.

&uot;As a managing partner here, I’m an investor as well as a manager,&uot; she said. &uot;Besides, this is closer to home. Natchez reminds me a lot of Vicksburg.&uot;

The small-town atmosphere has been both a pleasure and a shock, she said, citing friendly neighbors and their small acts of kindness as well as the &uot;getting used to losing my anonymity that I had in a larger city.&uot;

Bullard and her husband, Chris Fink, a cook, have two daughters, Ridley, 5, and Bergeron, 3.

&uot;This is a first for us. I figured we had moved 12 times since we were married. I have signed a five-year contract for Natchez, and, unless I’m promoted, I’ll be here for five years. My husband likes that idea,&uot; she said.