Can New Restaurant Actually Be The Best?Steve and Lisa Beagles are passionate about their work.
Steve and Lisa Beagles
It’s an overused term, “passion”; but spend a few minutes with this husband and wife team owners of the recently-opened Doe’s Eat Place of Ridgeland and you can feel the enthusiasm. It’s tangible. Whether discussing their food, their staff, their future plans–the Beagles are authentically and truly excited about the new venture. And the Ridgeland community has responded–in droves–after the restaurant officially opened on April 18.
Located in the former Beagle Bagel building in The Promenade shopping center, the Beagles’ (purely coincidental name similarity!) have taken the best of the Doe’s tradition, put their stamp on it, added an unparalleled commitment to staff (or “family” as they call their employees) and may be in the process of re-creating the famous restaurant name.
Ms. Beagles, a North Carolina native, and Mr. Beagles, a former Entergy nuclear employee who grew up in Chattanooga, moved to Mississippi nine years ago.
“We were both in the corporate world,” Ms. Beagles explains, “but at a certain point we stepped back, as parents of young children and wanting more control of our own destiny, to decided on what we really wanted to do–how we wanted to move forward. We decided we wanted to buy a small business, possibly one that had been ‘orphaned,’ as it were. It became a mission and we looked at a couple of hundred of options about three years ago.”
Ms. Beagles goes to say that they wanted the new career venture to be done right so they took their time and were very diligent in the process.
“The key to this all was actually Mayor Gene McGee,” Mr. Beagles says. “Lisa called the Mayor’s office, he returned her call within five minutes and said he would bring in the City’s economic development team to assist us in what we were deciding to do.”
“Five minutes later, no joke,” Ms. Beagles laughs, “Brian Johnson calls me and we began working with Brian and Alan Hart and got together on some ideas. Josh Harkins, our current landlord, also got involved at this point. The next meeting meeting was with the Signa family (the owners of the Doe’s Eat Place name) and that got the ball rolling. We became franchise owners. I need to say, though, that we are allowed to put our own imprint on the business and the name and that’s what we began doing.”
Doe’s in Ridgeland
Officially opening in August, the Beagles had already been hard at work for a long time.
“We were determined to do this right,” Ms. Beagles says, “and the Signas could not have been more helpful or generous. They came down often to help us and lend assistance. And while they wanted us to put our own stamp on Doe’s, Steve and I always wanted to keep the Doe’s legacy, tradition and brand intact and consistent.”
With 26 employees on staff, the Beagles were very particular about who they hired, Ms. Beagles noting that none of the staff has less than five years’ restaurant experience. “The majority of our staff are seasoned, mature and stable veterans,” Mr. Beagles adds. “Many came recommended by vendors so we have some of the best of the best working here.” The staff–or family–even has a retirement plan for hourly workers. Even benefits. Some needed new checking accounts–the Beagles helped get that arranged. These are things almost never heard of in the restaurant business.
The word “family” comes up time and time in talking to the Beagles when referring to staff members. “We pray together, we have have daily meetings prior to openings where people speak their minds–they even call me ‘Mama Lisa,” Ms. Beagles laughs. “The rule is you don’t leave work at night before hugging Mama Lisa,” she adds. “That’s just the kind of atmosphere we have here at Doe’s.”
“We run like a big business in terms of IT and such,” Mr. Beagles summarizes, “but we take care of our family here and they, in turn, take care of the customers, the business and us, really. That makes us more of a mom-and-pop type business model.”
As part of its uniqueness, the restaurant has various “special” dining rooms and areas for customers like first responders. “It’s very important for Doe’s to take care of and give special recognition to our police and fire department members. We also have a “Ridgeland Room” and a “Madison County Room” that are special areas reserved for special people that have meant a lot to us.”
Doe’s Eat Place of Ridgeland’s menu is similar to the “mothership” in Greenville with a few unique items thrown in. But the Beagles say that the Delta customers who have come in to try the new location come away satisfied. “They’ve given us plenty of compliments and that certainly means a lot!” Ms. Beagles says.
Certainly the best steaks, shrimp and tamales are served–it IS Doe’s after all–but Mr. Beagles also has a recipe and prepares a salmon dish and a tuna dish both of which have received rave reviews from customers, the Beagles say. Then there’s Ms. Beagles’ grandmother’s homemade pecan pie recipe which is a perfect way to end a great meal. “Our spaghetti is also top notch, I assure you,” Mr. Beagles says. “Homemade and as close to the real Italian version as you can get.”
Reservations are recommended but not necessary at Doe’s. The Beagles say the restaurant comfortably seats about 110 people and there is also the bar area. (Editor’s Note: our suggestion? Make a reservation!).
As for the future? Yes, another Beagles-operated Doe’s could be in the cards. But for now, Steve and Lisa are focused on keeping the Ridgeland Doe’s Eat Place the best it can be and getting feedback on how to possibly make it better they both say.
Making Doe’s Eat Place better is going to be a tall order, however. And while modesty would probably prohibit them from saying this themselves, with the Beagles at the helm Doe’s will continue to be one of Ridgeland’s latest–and greatest–crown jewels.