Speedy Eats: Hughes bringing new food service technology to Natchez

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Natchez has new technology in food service coming here soon.

Entrepreneur Tance Hughes has inked a deal with Speedy Eats, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to open the company’s first self-service food location. It’s like a vending machine but on steroids.

“We’ve gotten a lot of good, positive feedback,” since floating the idea on his Facebook page several weeks ago, Hughes said.

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“The menu is not set in stone yet. We are working on that right now. Overall, our intention is to serve sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups — things of that nature. Everything is going to be locally made, fresh meals. It will not be greasy fast food. It will be a good quality meal,” he said.

All food offered will be refrigerated for the first six to nine months. “That said, within six to nine months, we will actually be able to heat up the food and deliver it out the window heated up,” Hughes said.

The founder and CEO of Speedy Eats is Speed Bancroft. “I have been following him as he was working on this for several years. Speed is familiar with this area. His family owned Giles Island and Bancroft Paper in Jackson and Monroe,” he said. “This will be the very first Speedy Eats deployed, so there will be some kinks and a learning curve. It’s really new technology, and we will get to use it first in our area, which is exciting. At the same time, there may be some kinks and bugs, but I am confident it will be a really good experience for customers overall. We really want to get feedback from people about what type of food and things they would like to see made available.”

Hughes expects Speedy Eats to be up and running by September. It will be located in the parking lot of Total Storage on John R. Junkin Drive.

Hughes bought what was the former Kmart building on John R. Junkin Drive in 2021 to use for his growing business, Southern Designs, which he founded in 2008. The Vidalia native operated the business until 2023, when economics like the increased cost of steel and decreased demand forced him to close it.

Hughes converted the building into indoor, climate-controlled storage units, which he said is going well.

“Total Storage is going really well. We just opened our boat and RV storage. The building is filling up at a pretty good rate. We are right on track with what we expected,” he said.

Hughes is also an owner of PJ’s Coffee on U.S. 61 south, which is celebrating 15 months in business as of Wednesday.

“The support has been fantastic. Overall it’s been really good. Things are going well,” he said.