Sardis Main Street
By Jason C. Mattox
After a more than 20-year absence, restaurants will soon return to Main Street in Sardis.
According to permits obtained from City Hall, Damian and Rebecca Van Oostendorp, and Doug Mahan have pulled renovation permits for three buildings.
The Van Oostendorps, New York transplants who now reside in Sardis, purchased property at 216 S. Main St. nearly two years ago with intentions of opening a restaurant, Tribeca Alley.
The couple has installed a wood-fired oven in which nearly all of the food will finish cooking.
“We have been handling the renovations on our own, so it is taking longer than some people would have liked,” she said. “But the wood-fired oven is going to be a big feature of the restaurant that will allow us to do New York-style and Sicilian-style pizzas, as well as a variety of fresh baked breads, cookies and other items.”
Van Oostendorp said the plan is to serve Italian cuisine and southern favorites with a New York twist.
“We might have meatloaf on a special, and it won’t be the traditional meatloaf people down south are used to,” she said.
She said they hope to open the business no later than mid-November.
“Our plan at this point is to open for breakfast and lunch daily and then open a couple of nights each week,” Van Oostendorp said. “We are also discussing the possibility of a Sunday brunch.”
Van Oostedorp admitted that cost was a determining factor in the decision to open in Sardis, but not the only factor.
“My husband and I live here, and we do love this town,” she said. “The lower costs in Sardis are making all this possible, and we hope to be here for a long time to come.”
A second restaurant, tentatively named Sardis Seafood and Steaks, is farther away from an opening date, according to owner Doug Mahan of DeSoto County.
Mahan told The Panolian via telephone last week that he is in the renovation stages at his properties at 105 and 107 South Main St.
Mahan said meetings with Mayor Alvis “Rusty” Dye, as well as friends in the area, helped convince him to open in Sardis.
“I have a lot of friends here, and after meeting with the mayor, I had a really good feeling about it,” he said. “My wife and I really like it here, and we are hoping to eventually move here.”
Mahan, who has previous restaurant experience in DeSoto County and had planned a seafood eatery in Como that never came to fruition due to infrastructure issues, said he hopes to open for business by the first of 2010.
“We have a lot of work to do, but we hope it won’t take us any longer than that,” he said.
The new developments could mean a request for Sunday sales hours of beer and liquor like similarly passed in Batesville.
The Van Oostendorps said they would possibly serve beer and have a cork charge for wine drinkers, but said they would not be serving liquor to start.
“We will be open mostly for breakfast and lunch at first,” Rebecca said. “If we expand our hours to dinner service every night, we might add liquor, but we want to be a restaurant and not a bar.”
Mahan did not disclose his plans for liquor and beer.
Dye said he is excited to see this and other development including the recent purchase of 110 South Main by Lance Whaley.
“I think all of this development will be very good for the city,” he said. “We are all happy to see this interest in our Main Street.
“We expect the request for Sunday beer and liquor is coming, and we have briefly discussed it,” he said.
Dye said the Van Oostendorps have served food at two car shows on Main Street this year and have received a good response.
“Everyone that was able to get food during those car shows has told us the food is fantastic,” he said. “They have sent cookies to City Hall the past two Christmases, and they don’t last long around here.”
Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said he, too, is excited about the development in the town.
“When I was a kid, my dad and I used to walk to the general store on Saturday mornings to have breakfast,” he said. “It will be nice to see that element back in our downtown.”