My Michelle’s opened in 2010 and has been providing Oxford residents with classic, homestyle comfort food ever since. Whether catering an event, providing take-home casseroles for families, or dishing out a mouthwatering lunch buffet during the week, owner Michelle Rounsaville has dedicated herself to serving the people of Oxford. Now, with the addition of a new culinary scene newcomer, catering coordinator Meg Sinervo, this locally owned eatery is set for continued growth and innovation.
What began as a catering company has continued to evolve, just as Rounsaville’s vision for the business grows. The lunch buffet was a key addition that has turned My Michelle’s into a sit-down eatery and a midday social hotspot, with a plethora of options on a regularly changing menu that emphasizes fresh, seasonal ingredients.
“The menu always changes, and we keep it different,” Rounsaville said. “The thing I hated about the restaurant industry was the monotony of the menus and how it’s the same thing every day. This was a way to keep it fresh and fun and not get bored with it while making sure we never detract from what we were already doing.”
To get a feel for what I was writing about, I had to check the buffet out for myself. In an attempt to sample a wide variety of dishes, I loaded my plate up with just about everything on the buffet and placed it on the scale at the counter. It weighed in at 1.5 pounds, and it was all gone in less than 15 minutes. Each item on the plate was as fresh and flavorful as the next, and all I wanted to do was go home and take a nap. Instead, I went back to work to write about my experience at My Michelle’s.
The Next Best Thing to Mom’s Kitchen
From its inception, My Michelle’s has focused on making meals that taste like they came right out of Mom’s kitchen. “We do everything we can to ensure it’s all fresh, using scratch-made recipes with fresh vegetables and seasonal ingredients,” said Chef Trey Bridgers “We use local ingredients whenever we can and make full use of them rather than discarding leftovers.”
Adding lunchtime service has allowed the chefs to tweak and fine-tune their recipes, gather feedback and engage in open dialogue with customers, Sinervo notes. “It gives us a creative outlet and a chance to try things out on the lunch buffet that we may also use for catering in the future. Our customers are very open and honest about their opinions, and they know we listen to them, so their feedback helps a lot.”
Sinervo, an Oxford native who has known Rounsaville her entire life, started working at My Michelle’s after her senior year in college. After learning on the job for a year, Sinervo attended culinary school in Austin, Texas, and returned to Oxford in 2016. Her timing was perfect—Rounsaville was searching for a new assistant at the time and offered the job to Sinervo, who now manages catering events, the front of the house and more.
Rounsaville said she was looking for “another me” and found one in Sinervo. “It was a natural transition because I knew we already did things similarly,” Rounsaville said.
“Between the two of us, we have more lists than humanly possible, but that’s how you have to do catering. There are a lot of logistics and moving parts involved; for everything to come together, you’ve got to be organized.”
“The two women’s lifelong friendship made them natural collaborators, Rounsaville adds. “I’ve known Meg my whole life. Someone who cares about you outside of work will naturally care about you at work as well, so bringing her in was a no-brainer.” Sinervo, in turn, thinks of Rounsaville as a trusted mentor and knows her likes and dislikes. “I spend so much time watching what she’s doing and how she does it and asking her why she does what she does,” Sinervo says. “So when I’m setting up an event, I know, ‘This is how Michelle would do it.’”
New additions to the business have certainly expanded My Michelle’s reach, but catering remains a core service. Knowing that food can make or break an event, Rounsaville and her staff work tirelessly to tailor the menu to the client’s wants and needs.
“It’s the most rewarding part of what we do,” she said. “My favorite part is the initial conversation when we get to ask, ‘What do you like? What’s your favorite food?’ We don’t care if it’s something as silly as peanut butter and jelly. We want to know because we can work to implement those flavors into the menu. It allows us to be creative while matching the food to the client’s personality and helping them to fulfill their vision for the event. There’s no better feeling than to see a happy bride, groom, graduate or parent.”
Rounsaville credits much of her company’s success to her talented and hardworking staff.
“My Michelle’s wouldn’t exist without my squad,” she said. “It takes Trey running the kitchen like a well-oiled machine, while Meg manages our staff and makes sure everything is in place and going where it needs to be, and then you’ve got me running around like a crazy person all day.”
Oxford is a town that loves to eat, and new restaurants keep opening, but Rounsaville thrives on the challenge. “I’m a very competitive person, and it keeps me on my toes. I’ve been here long enough to see restaurants come and go, and I don’t want us to go anywhere. When a new place opens up, instead of being worried, we channel that into freshening up our look and our menus.”
Meanwhile, Oxonians know they can count on My Michelle’s for high quality, consistency and personal service with every meal. Rounsaville, after all, is one of them. “She’s just a likable person,” said loyal customer Ashley Luke. “All of the local Oxford people love to support her and her business. She’s done a wonderful job, and she knows what she’s doing, that’s for sure.”
And Rounsaville plans to keep on doing it. “I feel like we’re a one-stop shop,” she said. “If you come in for lunch, you can grab a casserole for dinner or a quick snack. We have working moms that bring their kids in, and they’ll grab some items for their kids’ lunch and then maybe they’ll place a catering order for the weekend. Minus some straight-up groceries, you can get pretty much anything you need from us.”
My Michelle’s is open for lunch on Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the salad bar runs until 5 p.m., and the shop is open for casserole sales until 6 p.m. For catering information, click here.
Steven Gagliano is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.HERE!