Category Archives: Foodservice

Walmart Neighborhood Market to Open Soon in Starkville

Starkville’s new Walmart Neighborhood Market, which is a greatly scaled-down store intended to function more like a traditional grocery, is expected to open for business on Wednesday, January 17th. They are located off of Hwy 12 at 105 Market Street. The store is about 41 thousand square feet, or roughly a quarter of the size of a typical Wal-Mart store.

Walmart Director of Communication Anne Hatfield said that the new store will include a full produce department, bakery, deli, pharmacy, gas station, and a health and beauty department: “The focus is groceries,” Hatfield said. “It is a classic grocery store geared toward convenience. . . “If you need to run in and grab a gallon of milk or something to cook for dinner, this store is perfect for that,” she said. “If you need to make a full grocery shopping run, this store will offer everything you need for that too.” The store will also offer online ordering and pickup options.

Hatfield said the Walmart Neighborhood Market will create about 95 full-time and part-time jobs, many of which have been filled, with the employees undergoing initial training in the weeks leading up to their grand opening.

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Starkville Looks to the Future with Plans for Expansion

Starkville Looks to the Future with Plans for Expansion

STARKVILLE  – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill, who took office a short six months back, recently addressed the local Rotary Club to speak about her intentions for the city’s future: “I’d like to say that everything we have going on is from my administration,” Spruill said, “but every administration builds on the administrations that come before. There were a lot of code changes that had to be made, especially in Parker’s first administration, that made a difference, no matter how you slice it.”

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill talks with Stuart Vance after speaking to Starkville Rotarians at the Starkville Country Club Monday afternoon – Photo by Deanna Robinson -Dispatch Staff

She spoke of some significant achievements the city has made since her arrival on the scene this summer, such as the approval of $7 million in bonds to support the new industrial park, chnages to the billboard ordinances, and changes to the alcohol ordinance that expanded hours businesses can serve alcohol and reduced the minimum distance such businesses can be from a church, school or funeral home: “I realized it was controversial,” Spruill said. “I ran on this, it was part of my platform, because I thought that this was critical to allow the area of our downtown to bring in more restaurants.”

Spruill went on to speak, among other things, about an annexation study that could potentially increase the city’s population by as much as 25%:”This is purely a study,” Spruill said. “We are looking to see if it would be feasible with being exorbitantly expensive for residents or the city. We’re looking at people who are enjoying the benefits of living in an urban area without sharing the expenses that go along with it. My hope is that we find it feasible.”

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Selling a Ton of the Best Fried Chicken Around…Every Day!

Selling a Ton of the Best Fried Chicken Around…Every Day!

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Fried chicken is just one of those foods that is synonymous with the South – and people flock from literally hundreds of miles around to get their fried chicken at Columbus’ own Food Goant supermarket, which has been supplying the all of their customers with tender, juicy birds for a decade or so.

Head fry cook Bobby Hill and Matt Critcher, one of Hill’s five fry cooks, batter chicken at Food Giant in Columbus Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Bobbie Reese, the store’s deli manager, says that ” . . . [We] sell about 3,800 pieces a day; more on weekends,” she said. “It’s hard to say. I do know we order 275 cases of chicken each week and by the time Monday rolls around, we’ll have two, maybe three cases left before the next order comes in.” That works out to over six tons of of chicken sold every every week, year-round – nor far short of a ton a day. On average, their deli has 1,400 customers per week, according to store manager Ty Dankins, who has been there from the beginning.

“Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Macon, West Point,” Reese said. “There is a church in Birmingham that comes in once a month to pick up an 800-piece order. They say they can’t find chicken that tastes like ours anywhere else.” To what does she credit such amazing customer loyalty? “It’s the batter,” Reese said. “That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a secret.”

The store uses four commercial-grade frying machines, each capable of cooking 112 pieces of chicken per hour from 7 AM to 6:30 PM daily. Each one is drained of oil, cleaned, and refilled twice a day with peanut oil to guarantee a fresh, clean taste, and an end product that is much less greasy than many place’s fare.

“There’s little bit of a lull until around 4,” Bobby Hill, the store’s head fry cook and manager of all things chicken-related, said. “Then people start coming in to pick up supper . . . I’ve been frying chicken since Day 1,” he went on to say. “When I came in for the job interview, they told me, ‘We sell a lot of chicken. Don’t let the chicken whoop you.’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to whoop that chicken.’ That first day, I couldn’t believe it. I came here from Flint, Michigan. People like fried chicken there, and I guess people everywhere like fried chicken. But it’s not like what it is here. It’s amazing.”

The store is well-equipped to handle unusually large orders, though they suggest that you call well in advance for the really big ones: “If you’re going to make a big order like 800 pieces, you better do it about a week ahead of time because the order book fills up pretty quick,” Hill said.  “If somebody walks in and orders 100 pieces, we tell them, ‘Sure, we can do that, but you might have to wait 10 or 15 minutes,'” Hill said. “I bet if you walk into one of those fried chicken order places and tried to order 100 pieces, they’d tell you you’re crazy.”

The display case is piled high with freshly fried chicken by 8 am each morning at Food Giant in Columbus – Photo by Deanna Robinson – Dispatch Staff

“Sunday is our biggest day,” Reese said. “We’ll have people lined up all the way to the back of the store. People don’t mind waiting.”

Food Giant, an employee-owned company, operates more than 100 stores across the Southern U.S., under names including Food Giant, Piggly Wiggly, Cost Plus, Pick ‘n Save, Market Place, Sureway and Mad Butcher. Their workers and managers are all allowed the opportunity to purchase stock in their own store, which tends to lead to a sense of pride in their store, and a personal investment in its success. This means that more of the money made literally stays right here in Columbus, in the hands of the people who work hardest to keep it running smoothly – and THAT’S Good for Business!

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Local Entrepreneurs Picking Up Steam

Local Entrepreneurs Picking Up Steam

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

MUW played host to a small business seminar Tuesday night, that was put on by BancorpSouth and the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce. The hall was packed with people young and old who wished to learn more about how to go about starting up their own small businesses.

“The majority (who attended) were people who were just thinking about (starting a business) or have ideas to do it and needed to know where to start,” said Emily McConnell, director of programs and events at the CoC. “The seminar was great for that, just in encouraging them to do it, to get out there and try.”

Mary Jennifer Russell (courtesy photo)

One of the featured speakers was Mary Jennifer Russell of New Albany. In 1997, she had been moving from job to job while dabbling in baking on the side, as a way to bring in supplemental income. She gradually grew her business, and, a year after beginning, she had (what was then) her first major sale — ten cakes, sold to a yogurt shop. Fast forward nearly twenty years, and now Russell’s Sugarees Bakery puts out a thousand cakes a week, while employing 37 people. Her story has been featured in publications such as the New York Times and Oprah’s Magazine, and Russel earned her place as this year’s Mississippi Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year.

She had this advice to give to people just starting out: “What do you want to see?” she said. “What do you want to smell? Really, really envision it with lots of detail.” She also emphasized the need to keep good books, constantly improving the business even after it’s up and running and – in particular – making sure to take good care of good employees.

Russell went on to offer this piece of advice: “It’s easy enough if you start with low-risk,” she said. “…It can be done. It should be done.” She recommends keeping your old job for as many years as it takes to get the new venture to a profitable stage; it took her four years to do so, herself, resulting in her opening her own dedicated shop after proving that her business concept was viable simply by doing exactly what she set out to do.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy – The more of them we have, the more people who are willing to take on that risk – The more success stories we’ll hear, given time, investment, and a lot of hard work. And that’s Good for Business!

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Columbus To Get New Places To Go To For Fresh Burgers And Trucker Service

Courtesy of The Dispatch


Wythe Rhett of Rhett Real Estate recently confirmed that Cook Out, the North Carolina-based burger chain that set up a successful location in Starkville about a year ago, plans to open a location in North Columbus. Cook Out recently finalized the purchase of the old Immanuel Baptist Church property on 18th Ave N, which had not been in use in the past two years.  Their current intention is to “demolish the (church) building and carve out enough of the property to put Cook Out on, then look at the possibility of adding another motel or strip (mall).”

Cook Out eateries are known for grilled burgers, barbecue and more than 40 kinds of milkshakes. The Starkville location employs approximately 50 and is open 10:30 a.m.-3 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday-Saturday. This would be the fourth Cook Out location in the state, joining its over 170 brethren nationwide.


The Volume Freight shipping company, owned by Doug Estes, is currently building a new steel structure on Hwy 82 near the Vibrant Church West location. The finished building will serve as a two-floor terminal with a three-vehicle bay shop to maintain Volume’s fleet of 65 trucks. Next up once that’s ready is a planned 150-thousand square foot warehouse and approximately 35 new trucks. The company employs about 80 drivers, who service the contiguous 48 states, plus about eight local mechanics; roughly half of the trucks  are based locally, as well. Volume Freight, a local company, has been in business since 1988.



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West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

WEST POINT, Miss. (Courtesy of WTVA)

Ever since Yokohama opened for business on the North side of town in 2015, the area’s South side along Hwy 45 has been booming, reports Lisa Klutts, the director of The Community Development Growth Alliance. She says that more business openings are on the way: “Burger King opened just under a year ago, Express Lube opened just recently and Love’s truck stop with Arby’s will be opening in May.”

The Growth Alliance said  that Burger King on Highway 45 surmounted national record sales on its opening day. “It seems like a pretty good business move to me, if they’re in it to make money,” said driver David Nelson.

The Growth Alliance said they watch trends to see if businesses are expanding in the state. “We would like to see more shoe stores or clothing stores,” said Klutts. There are currently no public plans to bring such stores to the area (yet), but, at the city grows and the Golden Triangle becomes more and more attractive to big business, who knows what the future may hold…?

All we know is, that’s good for the Golden Triangle, and that’s Good for Business!

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Starkville Farmers Market is Back

Starkville Farmers Market is Back

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Prather (courtesy

Starkville Community Market will be open this Tuesday from 4-6 p.m. at Fire Station No. 1 Park.

SCM manager and Greater Starkville Development Partnership special events coordinator Jennifer Prather reports that roughly eight to ten vendors are expected to sell early spring produce and other goods at the event; more growers and producers are expected to join when the market’s Saturday offerings begin May 6. “We’ve spoken to new vendors outside of Starkville about new offerings, like baked goods and goat’s cheese and milk. We’re looking to increase the variety,” she said.

The Market will be held at Fire Station No. 1’s greenspace, located at the intersection of Lampkin and Russell streets.

Prather went on to say, “We’re working with Starkville Utilities to help grow the capacity for electricity there. Many vendors require refrigeration for their products, so that’s a priority for us moving forward. We’re also working on a project to install new benches and garbage cans, and overall looking into other ways to better develop the area in a community friendly way . . . We’re really enjoying the location. The aesthetics make a huge difference because the area is friendly to vendors and shoppers.”

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Bargain Hunt, Vapezy Open; LA Shrimp Shack Shutters its Doors


In mid-February The Dispatch brought us the news that Bargain Hunt would be opening in Columbus in the former Southern Family Market location next to K-Mart. The store is now preparing for a grand opening to be held on March 17. Their new Columbus location is in addition to their existing one in Starkville, and more than sixty others nationwide.

The store’s hours will be 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. It will bring 25 new jobs to the area.

Highway 45 gained another new attraction in the form of Vapezy, a premium e-liquid and supply store located at 1909-B Hwy. 45 N.  Billy and Andrea Ezell opened Vapezy in September of last year.  The couple are originally from Webster County, where they became friends through the medium of vaping, that is, the enjoyment of vapor-producing electronic cigarettes.

“We want to present a greater sense of community than other shops,” Ezell said regarding the store’s future. “That’s what the vape scene is really about.”

While currently operating out of the store’s front section, there are plans to add a lounge into the 1,800 square-foot building. The store carries eight different lines of e-liquid and plans to expand to carry numerous vaping devices, from starter to advanced level, alongside additional e-liquids.  Vapezy is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Finally, the Louisiana Shrimp Shack quietly closed its doors on Feb. 21.  The Shrimp Shack originally opened Sept. 8, 2016, with Kenny Whitey, a fisherman from New Orleans, as owner. It was located at 1909-A Hwy. 45 N. and enjoyed much praise from locals for its fresh from the gulf seafood and “straight-outta-the-bayou” home-cooking.  Whitey said the travel to and from the shack was too much for the family to maintain.

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New Businesses Coming to Columbus, New Hope, Starkville

New Businesses Coming to Columbus, New Hope, Starkville

Courtesy of THE DISPATCH

Caleb Sherman of The Dispatch

New businesses are in the process of opening up shop for the convenience of customers!

In Columbus, Bargain Hunt is moving into the old Southern Family location next to K-Mart on 45

In New Hope, Starkville’s Smartphone Doctor will be adding a new location in the Lehmberg Crossing shopping center on Alabama St.

Starkville’s Main Street will be getting “Pop Porium,” a gourmet popcorn, sno-ball, and soda fountain featuring homemade syrup flavors. They hope to have a hundred varieties of popcorn available for sale by the end of the year, based on customer feedback; they plan to open soon with fifty.

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Developer has Plans to Restore Historic Turn of the Century Hotels to their Original Look

Developer has Plans to Restore Historic Turn of the Century Hotels to their Original Look

On the corner of 5th Street South and 3rd Avenue South in Columbus lie a couple of hotels which once served the area well back in the early 1900’s. They have become other businesses over the past century, and have been owned by the Mackay family during most of that time. Recently, the Mackays, proprietors of Party and Paper, sold the properties to developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain. The new owners have announced their plans to restore the former hotels to their turn-of-the-century glory. They’ve got their work cut out for them, but it is their hope that they will be able to pull it off, bringing back a long-forgotten piece of Columbus’ history to downtown. With luck, this will help to beautify the area even further, and bring in more tourists and fans of historical buildings to the area. And that’s Good for Business!

Courtesy of The Dispatch – COLUMBUS

At the end of the strip of downtown buildings on the west side of the 200 block of Fifth Street South are two buildings more than 100 years old. The buildings used to be the New Stone Hotel and the Arcade Hotel in the early 1900s, and also played host to retail spaces and apartments. The new owners, developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain, would like to bring all of that back.

Susan Mackay of Party and Paper (photo courtesy The Dispatch)

Susan Mackay of Party and Paper (photo courtesy The Dispatch)

Susan Mackay said she and her brother Wayne Price sold the buildings because they felt the two developers would restore the buildings to their more original, early twentieth-century look. “I’m so pleased to have some people that are going to come in that have a beautiful vision to renovate the buildings and just make it a real showplace for Columbus and the state of Mississippi,” Susan said. “I’m just really excited for all the possibilities.”

Preparation for the renovations is already under way, which means cleanup on a large, but cautious, scale. Bathrooms in the buildings that haven’t been used since the ’60s still have claw-foot tubs, and crews found a torn, yellowed Commercial Dispatch newspaper featuring President Harry Truman on the front page in one of the old apartments. An old New Stone Hotel sign was found in the upstairs wall. It now leans against the wall of the old hotel lobby where you can still see railings around where the grand staircase once stood.

The developers plan to make a boutique hotel from a good portion of the usable space, once all is said and done; they also plan to use some of the space for apartments, and possibly some for retail space, such as a new restaurant, as well. “You’ve got to have vision,” Howard said. “If you saw this building, you’d have been like, ‘Really?’ … But you’ve got to see their potential.”

The renovations are expected to take many months to a year; Party and Paper will stay there for the time being, renting out space from the new owners.

Chain is the owner of Renovations of Mississippi Inc., which he started in 1996. A Columbus native, he said his interest in historical buildings was piqued in the ’70s when he worked as a tour guide in Columbus’s old homes. Now he owns eight downtown buildings in addition to the ones Mackay and Price sold him and has renovated buildings all over the state.

“This is a passion,” he said. “…Rebuilding Mississippi’s heritage.”


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