New owners celebrate one year anniversary at Tabby D’s

Published 11:00 am Saturday, December 24, 2022

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When Benjy and Amy Mikel became the new owners of Tabby D’s Family Restaurant in Andalusia on Oct. 11, 2021, one of their goals was to give back to the community.

“Honestly, it was a quirky chance of fate. Our next-door neighbors Dewayne and Rita Scroggins mentioned selling the business one day. Benjy and I have both spent our careers in other aspects of the food business, and this sparked our interest,” Amy said. “We have always talked about how to give back to the greater good, especially with Andalusia being my hometown. I left 40 years ago and have traveled the world but always looked back at how both my brothers have followed in my dad’s footsteps and made a positive difference in the lives of people in the community. Tabby D’s gives Amy and me a chance to hopefully have a positive impact on the community,” Benjy added.

The restaurant remains mostly the same, but diners will notice the return of the buffet.

“Everyone in the community to a person pleaded with us to bring back the all-you-can-eat buffet, and two weeks after taking over, we did. As you can imagine, an all-you-can-eat buffet has a pretty high input cost and a marginal return on investment, thus depending on large customer traffic to make it cash flow. The community has been great in supporting us and has allowed us to be successful,” Amy said.

She added that they have not changed much due to a successful menu. “We are always looking to tweak items and bring in new things to keep the buffet exciting. That said, we will always stay true to our Southern comfort food line of cooking and ingredients.”

The Mikels feel they are similar to other restaurant owners in the area.

“Andalusia is blessed with many great locally-owned and operated establishments. Since we are not open at breakfast or dinner, we personally patronize as many as we can. All the owners we know in the area work really hard, put out quality food, and are passionate about what they do. If we are different, it’s because we are new in the business and just try to ensure everyone feels like a part of our family.”

Having good customer service is important and necessary for a successful restaurant.

“I just recently saw a Ted Talk about unreasonable hospitality. Basically, it said everyone expects quality food and superb service. To excel, you must go above and beyond the normal. We have one of the best staff bar none, and our mantra is to do whatever it takes to make every customer every day enjoy their experience by exceeding expectations,” Benjy said.

According to Benjy, the next five years bode well for the business.

“Only God knows the future, but we have a strong desire to continue to grow the business and give back to the community. We feel we have the ability to help others in the community by doing well and setting an example. If we continue growing the business, the community will reap rewards. We do talk about opportunities to change things, but Amy is good at keeping me grounded. That said, I’d love to add a limited offering drive-through, and if the community would support it, maybe a Saturday breakfast buffet or a Monday night special.”

They take pride in giving back to the community for several reasons.

“I have lived in many places, but Andalusia is a vibrant community with a high quality of life for a vast spectrum of people. Whether it be young upstart couples or retirees, this community offers so much. Our goal in everything we do is to support that overall effort. Whether it be taking leftovers each week to our first responders, donating food to church groups and schools, or taking plates to shut-ins or the less fortunate, we, along with our staff, want to make an impact on the community,” Benjy said.

He believes everyone has a purpose in life.

“After spending time in places like Colombia, China, Iraq, Panama, Zimbabwe, and Jordan among others the last 40 years, I have come to realize my purpose in this life is to help others. While I have in the past and currently support my professional organization that has helped me over the years, I feel the need to pay back those people in Andalusia that put me on the right path so many years ago. While my family certainly had a huge impact on me, so many others in the community gave us young kids an avenue to grow and develop like nowhere else on earth. To all of you who have touched my life, I offer a heartfelt thank you. For those I might can help along life’s road, climb aboard and hang on. I promise we will move forward together in life.”

Tabby D’s is located at 1421 MLK Jr. Expressway in Andalusia. The restaurant currently has 17 full and part-time employees and offers dine-in, online, and call-in order options with catering services also available. For more information call 334-222-0878.

“We are blessed to be back in my hometown and could not be more thankful to serve the people of Andalusia, Covington County, and the surrounding areas,” Benjy said. “I am so happy to have built a life in Andalusia,” Amy added.