A true-blue Southern experience in Hamilton.
By Heather Peter
The reputation of Southern hospitality is renowned far and wide, but did you know you can get some of that famous Southern love just down the street? Mississippi Queen Foods serves up an authentic down-South experience in an intimate space that will remind you of the Ma and Pa shops you’ve seen on your travels through Dixie.
A self-proclaimed “backwoods Mississippi girl”, Connie Rouble made her start with Mississippi Queen Foods in Toronto and the GTA 6 years ago. She didn’t see herself as a “restauranteur” or as someone who would enjoy the rigidity of restaurant life, but the popularity of her homemade dishes was keeping her busier and busier and the need to open a brick-and-mortar was clear. The rising prices of real estate in Toronto and the GTA (plus her own need to explore somewhere new) brought her westward to Hamilton two years ago, opening up the Mississippi Queen Foods restaurant in January 2016.
Located on King Street East near Wentworth, the neighbourhood may not be where you would expect to find a true-blue Southern experience, but when you see the charming exterior and step foot inside the cozy space, you will know you’re in the right place. Filled top to bottom with ephemera from the South, inside the dining room it’s a mish-mash of vintage tables, chairs and table settings that will bring you back to meals at Grandma’s house (if she was Southern, of course!).
Since her opening in 2016, the business has evolved greatly. Being a one-woman show, she found that catered events, farmers markets, private parties and the hectic king cake season were requiring her to close the restaurant. A day here, a day there … until she was only open two days a week as a restaurant, and privately for her busy Southern Supper events. Eventually, she made the decision to close up shop as a restaurant and stick to her prosperous – and much preferred – catering, private event and festival business.
You may have heard about Connie’s Southern Supper events through Facebook, or just through the grapevine, but they are an experience to behold. During the events, around 20 people are seated in her small dining area at semi-communal tables with a small stage beside them. The menu is ever-changing, depending on what Connie decides to prepare for the evening and dishes are served out family-style during the musical display. Dishes on previous menus have included Catfish, Shrimp and Okra Gumbo, Blackened Chicken Fillets, Cornbread Muffins, and more! The service style and the snug space makes for good conversation and you can be sure you’ll leave with a new friend or two. Connie likes to call this “the magic” of the space.
On the stage during the Southern Suppers, are performances from some of the top musicians in the jazz and blues industry. Bringing in a mixture of award-winning and high-calibre local and worldwide musicians, Connie has not only created an incredible experience for Hamiltonians, but she has also established Mississippi Queen Foods as a hub for the music industry. The blues and jazz crowd in the city has been so appreciative of what she has brought to the table, that they even fundraised money for her to get her liquor license – bringing those Southern Supper events one step up.
During the Summer months, Mississippi Queen Foods runs about 4 Southern Suppers per month. During the Fall, Spring, and Winter there are about 6 to 8 Supper events per month on Wednesday and Thursday nights. With the success of her evening parties, Connie plans to launch the Southern Suppers into a Southern Brunch concept, complete with excellent musicians and homemade (by Connie) Southern brunch Food.
Connie is a busy woman – managing everything involved in the business; from booking the bands, taking ticket orders, ordering ingredients for the events, setting up the décor, cooking all the food, doing all the shows and catering – but she still manages to make time to raise her daughter and bring something innovative to the city of Hamilton.
Would you like to attend one of her Southern Supper events or inquire about a private party? Visit her website at http://mississippiqueenfoods.squarespace.com/ or her Facebook page ‘Mississippi Queen Foods’, where she lists all her events and the menu for the evening.
We presume you’ll be telling your friends about this experience for years to come