Demopolis eatery draws locals as well as visitors
Story and Photo by Emmett Burnett
In a park across the street from Stacy’s Café, a stone marker notes the 1919 chicken auction that funded construction of nearby Rooster Bridge. Coincidentally, today’s special at Stacy’s is fried chicken. It, too, is monumental. The entire menu is.
Occupying the ground floor of 123 W. Washington St. in Demopolis, Stacy’s Cafe seats about 115 and does so often.
“I loved this place from the first visit,” says frequent fan and Marengo County attorney Abisola A. Samuel, recalling her first encounter.
“On a friend’s recommendation, I visited, ordered something with rice and gravy, and was amazed. It tasted just like home cooking. I remember saying ‘wow, who is this lady?’”
This lady is Faunsdale, Alabama’s Stacy Averette Pearson, wife, mother, U.S. Air Force veteran, and owner of the namesake café with a Demopolis and ever-expanding statewide following. Many restaurateurs start out dreaming of being in the food service field. Stacy did not.
“My experience was basically working in fast food places during college and later as a waitress at the Faunsdale Bar and Grill,” she recalls, while checking menus for today’s customers. “My intentions were to attend college and study science.”
After graduating from Demopolis High School in 1984, the future restaurateur enrolled in Livingston University. But she left college in 1987 to join the Air Force and served a three-and-a-half year hitch, working as a computer programmer.
In 1991, Stacy returned home. As a waitress at the Faunsdale Bar and Grill, she learned a lesson in projecting the daily business of running a restaurant: “You can’t,” she says. “The only one thing in the restaurant business you can predict every day is every day is unpredictable.”
Recognizing her culinary talents, family members encouraged Stacy to take a bold step, which sent life in a new direction.
In March 1999, the waitress bought the diner-bar that employed her, changing the name to Faunsdale Café. She still owns it, 14 miles from Demopolis. But she sought more, wanting to venture into catering from a larger restaurant. She wanted Demopolis.
On Sept. 26, 2017, she took a new culinary plunge, opening Stacy’s Café. “I knew the town would support me because many from Demopolis visited our Faunsdale location,” she recalls. “But many were apprehensive about it being off Demopolis’s main highway. We are in downtown. If you want to eat here you have to find us.” Not a problem.
“If I am in Demopolis I am at Stacy’s,” says attorney Samuel. “The food here is the best, bar none. Not sure I can pick a favorite dish, but one would be the grilled chicken Greek salad.”
In addition to the previously referenced monumental chicken, entree options include steaks (ribeye and hamburger), catfish plates, oyster platters, po’ boys, seafood gumbo, and red beans and rice. Side dishes of greens, mashed potatoes, okra, fried green tomatoes, and vegetables accentuate the menu. And may we have a serious discussion about cornbread?
Stacy’s cornbread comes in varieties – regular, Mexican, and a new entry chocked with crawfish. You heard me, crawfish. “Her crawfish cornbread and crawfish bisque are delicious,” smiles husband Eddie Pearson, offering a testimonial about his wife’s latest project, a crustacean creation.
He adds, “Everybody loves it.” Which is good because there is much to love. Cornbread is served slab size.
Such innovations are sparked by original thought. New dishes are the result of experimentation. “I come up with an idea, then do research, cook it at home, and serve to my family,” Stacy says. “After tweaking and re-testing, it may premiere at the restaurant.”
She credits success to a simple concept: “Everything we serve is homemade, hand prepared, and cooked fresh.” It takes work.
Though open for lunch at 11, staff arrives by 8:30. There is no time to dilly-dally. “Demopolis is a 12 o’clock eating town,” Stacy says. “We don’t have one particularly busy day.” But when church lets out on Sunday, as the old saying goes, Katie bar the door. But typically every day is brisk and preparation starts early.
“Our salads are from hand cut leaf lettuce, not bagged,” Stacy says. “Burger patties are hand-patted and fries hand carved. Catfish is locally raised.” Gravy on mashed potatoes or rice has never seen a can nor spent the night in a package.
The menu changes daily with specials. Customers frequently call inquiring about shrimp and wild rice casserole or when seafood gumbo will again grace the menu. Other items are everyday fixtures, including burgers, salads, chicken fingers and salad varieties such as ham, bacon, and popcorn shrimp.
123 W. Washington St.
Demopolis, AL 36732
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m
Menu updates are available on the restaurant’s Facebook page – or by asking anyone in Demopolis.