March 20, 2022 Food

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Meredith Biesinger is a professional educator and writer in Tupelo, Mississippi. With a great love for all things Southern, she loves to feature all the many positives of the south one word at a time! Follow Meredith on Twitter

Jo’s Cafe embodies the theme song from the iconic television show Cheers.

You remember the tune “Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” Over the last year or so, my husband and I have found some of our favorite people, food, and “our table” at Jo’s Cafe.

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Named after “Aunt Jo” (Jo Moore) of Tupelo. Inside the historic, cream colored home in the heart of Tupelo, this Cafe and its owners have found their way into the hearts, homes, and taste buds of locals and visitors alike. The restaurant offers catering, meal prep, and food truck options, in addition to traditional dining. There is something for everyone at Jo’s!

Four years ago, Jennifer Brignac and her husband, Johnny Cook, started Jo’s Cafe, a food truck designed to travel to disaster sites and feed first responders and victims.

In 2020, they opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant at Crosstown, but they’ve never forgotten their original mission.

Jo’s Cafe is also a faith-based organization focused on providing disaster relief to those whose lives have been affected across the United States. Leveraging their expertise in cooking to serve meals for victims, volunteers, and first responders in national emergencies and disasters, they are committed to using our resources to meet the needs of others. Their team and staff are prepared to respond by providing compassion and offering hope and friendship in the form of hot meals.

Recently, Johnny, Jennifer, and their crew spent Christmas Day in Kentucky. After watching TV news coverage of the deadly tornadoes, they knew what they had to do. They fed more than 500 people that holiday, helping the victims and clean-up crews of the violent Kentucky tornadoes that ravaged much of the state.

“We saw aerial footage of the damage, and I told Johnny it was weighing heavy on my heart,” Brignac said. “And he agreed.”

HOSPITALITY AT ITS FINEST

In the Magnolia State, not only do we know the devastation that can occur from a tornado, but we also understand the importance of helping our neighbors. Tupelo locals rallied around Jo’s Cafe and donated items to Kentucky, such as gift cards, candy, and frozen turkeys. Loyal customers wanted to help their beloved Cafe and their owners, as this was a mission that Mississippians understand all too well.

On Christmas Eve, along with fellow employee Kristin Buse, the couple piled into a pickup and drove Jo’s Cafe’s mobile food trailer 250 miles to Murray, Kentucky, where they spent the night with some missionaries from another local disaster response group, Eight Days of Hope.

“This is a total God thing,” Brignac said. “We’re just using the resources He gave us.”

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As New Orlean natives and Hurricane Katrina survivors, it is important to Johnny and Jennifer to help and serve others, with the motto “You cannot do everything, but you can refuse to do nothing.”

“We were living on the Gulf Coast when Katrina came through, so it’s kind of our background,” Brignac said. “We’ve been on both sides of a disaster, first as victims and how as helpers.”

MAKING LEMONS OUT OF LEMONADE
Dietary restrictions, or not, Jo’s is a place where everyone can eat natural, whole foods, and eat them together! A dozen years or so ago, Jennifer discovered she was gluten intolerant. She took this challenge as an opportunity to learn how to cook gluten-free food.

Are you gluten intolerant? Diabetic? On a keto diet? Or, do you simply enjoy fresh, whole foods? Jo’s Cafe has a FULL low carb, keto, no to low sugar menu that is always available. Plus, everything tastes amazing!

It’s impossible to list all of my favorite menu items, so here are a few: Chicken Philly Waffle, Crack Chicken, Mexican Casserole, Bacon Cheese Biscuits, Jo’s Signature Ribeye over Greens, and Fat Boy fries. They also make their own keto coffee and loaded teas! There are several dessert options as well. Currently, Jo’s offers “Keto King Cake bites!” So you can “let the good times roll” and stay on your diet too! “Laissez les bons temps rouler”!

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Jennifer and Johnny put their hearts and souls into Jo’s. This kind of care is shown not only through their number of returning customers but also through their relationships both inside and outside the Tupelo community.

THE FIRST INGREDIENT IS LOVE

Johnny loves to cook and wants everyone to get a plate of food fit for every friend and family member. Many ask Johnny what his special ingredients are. His answer is always the same, “I start with love!”

COOKED FRESH TO ORDER
Because Jo’s wants everyone to receive hot, freshly prepared to order food, they don’t typically use heat lamps. They don’t believe in pre-cooked food sitting under lamps before ordering. You order. They cook. Fresh, whole foods, and oh my…are they delicious!

ONLY THE BEST
Jo’s shops daily to get the freshest ingredients for their dishes. They don’t believe in pre-battered and/or pre-packaged ingredients.

LIFTING WHERE THEY STAND
Jo’s Cafe is not just a business trying to make a living. Jo’s Cafe is an organization that wants to make a difference. Not only do they provide healthy, delicious food for each customer, they also utilize their talents and cooking skills to help others in their time of need.

CUSTOMERS ARE FAMILY
The Cafe has allowed Jen, Johnny, and their talented staff to make invaluable connections. “Our patrons are no longer customers after their first visit; they are our friends. The support and encouragement we receive from them is priceless!”

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If you’re in the Tupelo area, just drive down Gloster Street and look for the billboard sign that says “Jo’s Cafe, Located Over Yonder.” Once you find this local gem, you’ll never forget it! It is indeed a place “Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” A place where nutrition and hospitality are of the utmost importance and the southern tradition of gathering together around good food is maintained.

Welcome to Jo’s Cafe, y’all! I promise you will not be disappointed!

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