By Alex Myrick, Madison McGrath and Virginia Flanders
New additions to the Oxford dining experience are being added constantly. Tallahatchie Gourmet made its public debut in 2017 during the Double Decker Arts Festival weekend in April. Located underneath Neilson’s Department Store on the Oxford Square, the restaurant strives to serve authentic New Orleans-style cuisine and beers and wines that differ from their competitors.
Restaurant manager Nancy Nations said the cuisine is a little bit of New Orleans mixed with the Oxford style, which is a further differentiation between other Cajun-style restaurants on the Square.
Nations, a native of Brookhaven attended the University of Mississippi along with owner Angele Mueller where the two became friends and stayed in contact after graduation. Mueller went on to open the first Tallahatchie Gourmet location in New Albany while Nations pursued her culinary education.
As Nations continued her culinary career in the catering industry, Mueller wanted to open an extension of the Tallahatchie Gourmet brand in Oxford, and she trusted one person to take the reins. Mueller reached out to offer Nations the role of manager, a position she currently occupies.
Nations is responsible for managing all aspects of the Oxford location and is a big part of the gourmet experience that keeps customers walking in the door. She implements the philosophy that if customers “come see us, you won’t regret it,” she said. One major aspect she believes attributes to customer return is the artwork from local Oxford artists that can be seen hanging throughout the restaurant.
“It’s a place that you can come to on the Square that offers a great Oxford feel with lots of friendly faces and lots of good food that is affordable and really yummy. I would also say that it’s very friendly, very relaxed, and very casual and welcoming,” said Ashley Surber, server and social media manager.
Even though the most popular dishes on the menu may be New Orleans-style shrimp and grits or beignets, the best thing the Tallahatchie Gourmet serves to the community may be its philanthropic efforts.
Tallahatchie Gourmet proves they are all about the Oxford family by hosting percentage nights—10 percent of a customer’s total bill—and donating proceeds to local charities and organizations. Some of the previous organizations that have benefitted from these nights include the Oxford School District, Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society, the Lafayette County Literacy Council and the Red Cross.
Nations says that these nights are dependent on what is happening in the community at the time. After Hurricane Harvey, a percentage night was held for the Red Cross. Nations said that they always see an increase in sales during these nights.
“Oxford is a very generous community,” Nations said.
Despite the success of Tallahatchie Gourmet, Nations said she wants the restaurant to keep growing. Use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are regularly used to publicize specials, food, and announce upcoming percentage nights in hope of attracting more customers, she said.