Southern cooking a Vaughan’s staple

Published 1:57 am Sunday, June 24, 2007

The green, shamrock emblem at the entrance of the old Burns shoe store on 414 Main St. remains steadfast.

Stepping through the doorway provides evidence that the history of the building has seen little transformation, although the trade inside is a different venture.

The business, Vaughan’s Café and Bakery, belongs to Suzi and Paul Vaughan. The family business opened on June 12. Breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, afternoon short orders, deliveries, dessert specialties, in house parties and a bakery are some of the choices that the café offers the customers in a happy, relaxed atmosphere.

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“We wanted to leave the history of the place alone and create our restaurant using that ambiance.” Suzi Vaughan said as she proudly pointed to some of the interesting décor in the room. “My husband did all the building and restoring. As you can tell, he likes maps.”

One of the walls displays a U.S. and World map where visitors can place a pushpin to mark their home town or country.

“We’ve had tourists from Germany in here already,” she said, sounding amazed at the long distance traveled. “They really seemed to like our home-made cinnamon rolls.”

Paul Vaughan is a life-long resident of Natchez, however his wife said she has only lived in the area for 12 years.

“I felt there was a need for a restaurant that offers traditional Southern cooking. So, I sat down with my cooks and we came up with some impressive menus that will work. Plus, I like making people happy by offering choices and great food in a pleasant atmosphere.”

Suzi Vaughan left her job in the elementary library at Cathedral in December 2006, to initiate the family’s vision.

“I worked for my dad when I was at home. I call it the school of hard knocks. But my dad helped me become a people person. He taught me how to treat people right. I want my kids to have the same experiences that I did.”

Vaughan’s five children have helped at the café, along with 12 employees.

“We had more than 100 applications,” she said, indicating that she was glad to be able to offer employment for some people in the area.

“However, we are finding the parking to be difficult sometimes.”

Vaughan’s plans for the future include the addition of a wall mural of Main Street when it was a 2-way street in the 1920s. The restaurant has wireless Internet, a jukebox, a milkshake machine and a short order menu especially for an after school bunch.

“I want this to be the kind of place where my kids feel like they can bring their friends or where they may want to have their parties.”

Vaughan has also provided a showcase window in the café for all the schools from Natchez to Ferriday to create a monthly display that highlights their successes. “As soon as the schools re-open, I want to get all of them involved in some kind of rotation to show off something about each school.”

As for future plans, the café is now open seven days a week, 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

In the beginning, it was not in Vaughan’s plans to be open on Sunday. But after discussions with many of her customers and finding out that there was need, she now hopes to have a full house on Sundays.

“Some people have said that their fondest memory was when they walked from church to the old Topps Restaurant that used to be located on Main Street. I want to be part of a memory like that,” Vaughan said.