Q&A: Why Stella on the Square Is All the Rage

HottyToddy.com’s Steve Vassallo met with Cindy Kirk, co-owner of Stella, to learn more about just how this fine-dining restaurant has been wooing the town since its debut last fall. With fancy unusual dishes, including the signature Crawfish Cheesecake and one appetizer that Kirk describes as “just delicious”— the Buttermilk Fried Oysters – see how the Kirks have made Stella all the rage in this Q&A. 

Steve Vassallo: Cindy, you have to be pleased with the degree that Stella is attracting clientele.

Cindy Kirk: Yes, we are thrilled with the support that we’ve had here in Oxford. The people of Oxford are so friendly; it’s fun to hear all their stories about this building and how happy they are that we’re here.

Vassallo: Your general manager, Megan Christian, has a unique flair for customer service.

Kirk: Yes, I’m very proud of my beautiful and brilliant niece. She loved to come spend time at the restaurant in Memphis with us, where she got a taste for the service and hospitality industry.

Vassallo: Stella’s lunches offer a rare quality of excellence not found in many restaurants.

Kirk: Well, to be fair, I think there is a lot of great food to be found in Oxford. Johnny and I are so proud to be a part of Oxford’s distinguished restaurant community. Having said that, Johnny does use only the best quality ingredients. That’s the reason he started the farm. He wasn’t happy with the quality of pork and lamb available. This way, he controls every aspect of protein production, literally from the farm to the table.

Vassallo: For five star cuisine, Stella’s pricing is quite competitive.

Kirk: Yes, and lunch is affordable. For example, our chicken panini complete with sides is only $9. Dinner is a little more expensive, and we have tried to be as competitively priced as possible with the quality and cost of our proteins. While we may not be the cheapest, we certainly aren’t the most expensive restaurant in town.

Vassallo: One aspect that is most enjoyable in your restaurant is the ability to conduct a conversation without getting drowned out by neighboring noise.

Kirk: We’ve got a small space, but we’ve done what we can by upholstering walls and using fabric and soft textures to absorb some noise.

Vassallo: Your “Sushi Pizza” is a fabulous entree and priced at $14.

Kirk: It’s a beautiful, colorful dish with Ahi tuna and flying fish roe and Tobiko sauce. It can be an appetizer for two to four people or it can be an entree for one and, according to Pat Tatum, it is “the bomb!”

Vassallo: The quality of your beef sets Stella apart from the competition.

Kirk: Thank you. Johnny only buys the highest quality beef and he uses a sous-vide method to get the temperature just right without drying out the meat.

Vassallo: In addition to beef basking, let’s ponder pork for a moment.

Kirk: This is a Johnny question. He could talk to you about pork for hours: genetics, why foraging pigs taste better than fed pigs, etc. I will just say that we are very proud that all of our pork comes from our farm, Third Plate Pastures.

Vassallo: Happy Hour makes for a fun appetizer, especially leading up to an exceptional evening of excellence.

Kirk: Our happy hour is definitely fun with $2 domestics, $3 off glasses of wine, $4 wells and a tapas menu, where everything is under $10. It is from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Vassallo: Even though Sunday is the first day of the week, let’s close with the Sunday brunch and the “build your own Bloody Mary.”

Kirk: Brunch has always been one of my favorite meals to eat out at a restaurant. My favorite item on our menu is a toss-up between the Breakfast Sandwich and the Eggs Oscar. We added a build your own Bloody Mary bar because we thought it would be a fun and unique experience for Oxford.


Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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