A taste of Handy Andy Grocery
By Sarah Henry
When you walk into Handy Andy Grocery in Oxford, you smell fried food cooking in the kitchen and hear a phone ringing nonstop with to-go orders.
The grill sizzles, and you can hear the spatula flipping hamburger patties. You smell burgers, barbeque, fries and tater tots, and a bell rings when orders are finished.
“I go eat at Handy Andy once or twice a week,” said University of Mississippi senior Brennan Basinger. “The way it smells right when I walk in just lets me know that I’m about to eat some good food.”
At the small local restaurant at 800 N. Lamar Blvd. No. 5, you can hear ice coming out of the machine and fountain drinks pouring in the cup. Juicy cheeseburgers are topped with lettuce, tomato and onion. Tater tots and fries have the perfect amount of salt and crunch.
Inside Handy Andy Grocery, you’ll find old tile floors, wooden tables and booths. You can buy chips, candy and canned drinks in one area, and a bucket of Dubble Bubble gum sits atop the counter — each piece only 5 cents each.
The line to order food can sometimes be long, depending on the time of day. Noon is the busiest.
“Since I go there so much, I know when the best time to go is,” Basinger said. “I either go before or after noon.”
When you order your food, the cashier gives you a ticket with an order number. She later calls out your number. While waiting for food, the Weather Channel is always on.
Frank Evans sits at the last table in the restaurant and waits for people to leave so he can clean off their tables. He has been working at Handy Andy for eight years and previously worked at the university in the air conditioning and heating department for 30 years before retiring.
“I started working at Handy Andy because it gave me something to do after I retired,” Evans said. “It gave me a reason to leave the house.”
Evans works Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for five hours a day. His duties include wiping down tables and making sure the ketchup, salt, pepper and napkins are full. His wife often comes to Handy Andy Grocery to eat lunch with him because she gets free food and drinks when he is working.
Whether it’s a mom with her little children, college kids, a group of older men or several police officers eating on their lunch break, a variety of people eat at Handy Andy.
Police officers are usually in the restaurant during the lunch hour. Many of them talk with the employees. The topic of conversation among most is Ole Miss football.
“Every time I go in there, I always hear someone bring up the topic of Ole Miss football, how good our recruiting class is for next fall, and how well of a job Hugh Freeze is doing,” said Ole Miss student Hunter Boxx.
While eating at Handy Andy, you can sometimes hear people talking about the Bible. Aside from football and Bible study, students talk about their schoolwork.
Ole Miss sophomore Ashlyn Doss, a frequent Handy Andy visitor, said: “Handy Andy is always my go-to spot after a test. My friends in my class and I like to go there to recuperate after a long night of studying.”