BY MELANIE BUCK –
Lifelong Mena residents are living out their dream at the Country Cat Café & Sweet Shop. Tamara Purcell is known in her circle of family and friends for her southern style food that is second to none and her daughter, Sarah, who co-owns the café with her mom, has her mom’s flare, but on the sweet side. The combo of this mother/daughter duo will bring you a delicious meal with a dilectable sweet treat that will make you feel right at home.
Sarah explained that the restaurant was born after a conversation last Easter. “She had wanted a café for a long time but instead, she took on the role of being a mom and raising us kids. But we’re grown now,” smiled Sarah. “Easter last year, we were at the dinner table… everyone comes to her house on the holidays and they always tell her how good her food is. Someone said, ‘I think you should open a restaurant, I think this would sell.’ Mom said, ‘you know what, I think I’m going to;’ and that’s how it started.”
After finding a building to house her dream, the family began renovating in November 2015. They enjoy their location at 504 Hwy 71 South in Mena as Sarah stated, “We love being close to downtown. We have a lot of street appeal.” After months of preparation, Country Cat Café & Sweet Shop opened their doors the day before Memorial Day on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Little did they know, the next day would bring in more than they could have ever imagined.
“We didn’t really think about all the other restaurants being closed on Memorial Day, so our second day, our doors busted wide opened,” explained Sarah. “The community has been so gracious to us and so understanding. We’re a brand new restaurant and it’s hard to gauge when you don’t have any sales records to go off of, no projections. The community has been extremely understanding while we’ve been getting our system down.”
With the early surge of customers, the café needed more employees quickly so they began incorporating friends and family to help out. Sarah’s brother, Zechariah, has stepped in as kitchen manager, while his wife, Tori, is the wait staff manager.
They serve large portions, but with standard pricing, and the atmosphere is cozy. “People’s faces when we walk to the table is priceless,” said Tori. Everything is made from scratch, including a rich and creamy alfredo sauce, that would stand up to the best, and homemade mac and cheese, all with fresh, raw ingredients. “Our menu is based off of southern comfort cooking. They are mom’s recipes. It’s things that your grandmother would serve on Sunday afternoons,” Sarah smiled. The homemade scratch biscuits really do taste like your grandmother’s, along with the cream gravy served with them. The Hot Mess is a must try item on their breakfast menu, which is served all day. Their burgers are stacked high and offer up several combinations. They even serve a full pound burger that consists of two half-pound hamburger patties, two slices of cheese, four pieces of bacon, and two mozzarella sticks.
For dessert, try out one of Sarah’s cookies or cupcakes. She started making cakes 5 to 6 years ago and delivers up a variety of sweets for customers to enjoy. She also makes everything from scratch. From custom fondant cakes for birthdays and weddings to cupcakes with buttercream frosting, she offers many options. You can check out some of her creations on her Facebook page, My Everyday Decadence Bakery.
Hours of operation are Sunday thru Wednesday 6 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Thursday thru Saturday 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Check out the Country Cat Café and Sweet Shop on Facebook.