Partners purchase former cafe on Pearl Street, work to

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

re-open the eatery as City Cafe on April 1


Joan Gandy

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The Natchez Democrat

A dab of paint and some new ideas are transforming the former caf/ The Fare into an eatery with much the same style but some ambitious plans for the future.

Bobbie Cox, David Gardner and Tammi Mullins formed a partnership to purchase the caf/ from Sissie Gray, who, with her husband, Pat, operated the popular shop before closing only a couple of weeks ago.

The City Caf/, 109 N. Pearl St., will open April 1, the attractive two-level interior refurbished and offering breakfast and lunch menus, Cox said.

&uot;Our vision is to be a neighborhood caf/. We’ve already had so many downtown neighbors stop by here,&uot; Cox said. &uot;We’ll offer deli sandwiches, much the same kinds of things Sissie did. We hope to have specials each day so people who have a favorite always know what day we’ll be serving a certain special.

&uot;We’ll also offer fresh deli meats and cheeses. You can come in and buy 10 or 12 slices, if you want. And we’ll have chicken salad and other salads prepared in containers and freshly baked breads.&uot;

The partners hope to extend the hours of the caf/ to keep it open until 5 p.m. to serve those who like a late lunch or a cup of coffee and dessert in the afternoon.

&uot;Eventually, we’ll do some forms of outside catering. We’ll work on that gradually,&uot; Cox said. &uot;We’d even like to expand the space some day.&uot;

With her knowledge of Natchez and her background and experience in such places as Ramada Inn Hilltop, Bowie’s Tavern and Lorraine’s on the River, Cox made the ideal partner, Mullins said.

&uot;Bobbie knows the restaurant business. That’s a plus for us. David is a good budget man and paperwork man; and I’m the marketer,&uot; Mullins said.

As director of the Downtown Development Association, Mullins had some concern about taking on the project.

&uot;I was a little nervous abut what my board would say &045;&045; and the other merchants,&uot; she said. &uot;But Michael Cates, president of our board said, ‘Tammi, you’re believing so much in downtown Natchez that you’re investing in it yourself.’&uot;

Those words reassured her that the project should go forward.

Gardner, working on his time off from a busy schedule as Natchez’s city engineer, had more than one challenge as he surveyed the building and began to plan changes.

&uot;The biggest challenge was to increase the cooking space without decreasing the customer space,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;We’ve done that. We’ve used lattice to create another wall.&uot;

Work ahead of the partners includes decorative touches, some plumbing and putting up new blinds. &uot;And we’re getting the new sign to put up,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;We wanted a name that would fit the downtown and came up with City Caf/. Then we found out there used to be a City Caf/ a long time ago.&uot;

Excitement fills the busy caf/ space this week, where boxes in large stacks show new inventory arriving. People are stopping by to inquire about opening day.

&uot;I wish we were open right now,&uot; Cox said. &uot;We’ve had so many people we could have been serving.&uot;

Gardner said he looks forward to creating a family-type atmosphere in the caf/.

He expects all the partners will be around during the weekend and perhaps for the lunch hour.

&uot;But it will be Bobbie who will be here every day, and she is really good at what she does,&uot; he said.