Tallahatchie Gourmet has a location on the Square
By Reid Posey
Tallahatchie Gourmet has come a long way since opening its doors some 15 years ago.
Owner Angele Mueller traced its humble beginnings back to its first location in New Albany, in a tiny space with only two tables.
“I just started catering and doing quick little lunch bites,” Mueller said. “It grew, and I moved to a bigger facility and started doing lunch and dinner. It just grew little by little.”
After years of building Tallahatchie Gourmet into a local favorite in New Albany, Mueller decided to open a second location in Oxford, which made its debut in April for Double Decker weekend.
The expansion made sense for Mueller. Her daughters are students at Ole Miss, while her son is set to attend Oxford High School next year, and over the years, Tallahatchie Gourmet has developed a solid following in Oxford through the catering branch of the business.
When the Shelter on Van Buren ceased operation earlier this year, the Lewises at Neilson’s Department Store contacted Tallahatchie Gourmet about taking over the space, Mueller said. Mueller accepted, and Tallahatchie Gourmet began dishing out its signature brand of Southern cuisine with a hint of Mueller’s New Orleans roots.
At lunch, customers can walk in and enjoy a laid-back experience, ordering at the counter from a selection of sandwiches, salads, and soups, in addition to daily blue plate specials.
Mueller said that at dinner, they will offer more traditional table service and an expanded menu. Although items like sandwiches and salads are still available at dinner, they also offer fresh seafood dishes and pasta specials, among other selections.
Mueller said that she has a supplier that makes trips down south every week who brings back fresh fish, which has been a hit among customers.
Tallahatchie Gourmet also offers a special Sunday brunch menu, accompanied by a blue plate special and standard Bloody Mary and mimosa options.
Mueller singled out their shrimp and grits, gumbo, and salads as some of their fan favorites. She also said that all of their salad dressings and items like their chicken salad and pimento cheese are made fresh in-house.
In line with its roots as more of a catering enterprise, Tallahatchie Gourmet also has a retail branch, with two large refrigerators filled with ready-made casseroles and dips.
In addition to offerings like baked ziti, chicken and wild rice, jambalaya, and etouffee, Mueller said that their white lasagna, chicken spaghetti, poppyseed chicken, and shrimp and grits are probably their most popular grab-and-go items. These dishes are available in both small and large sizes, which can feed four to five people or eight to 10 people, respectively.
Once football season kicks off this fall, Tallahatchie Gourmet will also offer a full tailgating menu.
Although reception has been largely positive since opening her Oxford location, Mueller acknowledged the challenges that the location poses for the business, as they are tucked away in their quiet corner of the Square. Mueller said that they are turning to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to help promote the business and trying their best to get the word out.
The restaurant is using a variety of specials and events to stir interest as well. Mueller said they have been drawing good crowds with a bingo night on Wednesdays, in addition to experimenting with live music, which Mueller plans to incorporate more moving forward.
Wednesday through Friday, Tallahatchie Gourmet also has happy hour specials from 4 to 6 p.m., featuring $1 off drinks and $5 appetizers with different food specials each day. Wednesday features TG shrimp, Thursday offers fried pickles, and Friday has seafood sliders.
With local artwork lining the walls, Mueller said that she hopes to cultivate a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
“I just want it to be a really inviting, comfortable place to go,” Mueller said.
Further, Mueller believes that Tallahatchie Gourmet offers a unique experience on the Square, particularly for lunch.
“We try to get the food out pretty fast because I know most of our customers are working and are on their lunch break,” Mueller said. “But at the same time, we also have groups of ladies that come play bridge and stay here all afternoon, so you don’t have to be in a rush.”
This juxtaposition of efficient service with a relaxed atmosphere speaks to Mueller’s mission with Tallahatchie Gourmet, as they try to establish a comforting, local identity in Oxford moving forward.
“We just hope to be a successful business that people enjoy to come to,” Mueller said.
For more information on Tallahatchie Gourmet, like their page on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, or visit their website at www.tallahatchiegourmet.com.