Owner promises good food and good service

By Josh Arntz
The Dickson Herald

Published March 6, 2015

Jeanine Smith believes in great food “and a lot of it,” fun and an “excellent” wait staff.

Smith plans to offer those things to diners at her new restaurant, Jeanine’s Café.

“Our main thing will be our barbecue, which will be fresh barbecue, and steaks and of course American raised catfish,” Smith said. “They can also order cheeseburgers and things like that off the menu.”

Smith opened her restaurant Tuesday in Burns, at the former Donna’s Place restaurant on the corner of Highway 96 and Church Street.

“The thing that I hope sets me apart from everything around here is… to me they go hand-in-hand, the food and the service,” Smith said.

Smith spent the last seven years cooking at Papa Boudreaux’s Cajun Café in Sante Fe, Tenn., where she started as a sous chef and rose to executive chef and director of operations.

Smith wanted to open a restaurant “for as long as I can remember,” she noted, and recent developments nudged her into action.

Smith’s husband, Tommy worked for Quad/Graphics, which notified employees of pending layoffs in December. Donna’s Place also closed last year.

Smith explained those developments prompted her to pursue her dream.

“I’d been begged for years to open a restaurant,” she added, “and we thought no better time than now.”

Born and raised in White Bluff, Smith entered the food industry as a teen working at the now defunct Whippersnapper dairy dip in her hometown.

She then became a car hop at the original Frosty Jug in the late ’70s, where she met her husband on the job. The Smiths raised their family in Burns.

“(The food industry) has been very good (to me),” Smith said. “It’s very hard work, but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else I’ve tried.”

Smith and company started working on the new restaurant in December, cleaning and doing upkeep to the building, painting, installing new kitchen equipment and creating the menu.

The local community offered their support every step of the way, she noted.

“The response I have had has just been outstanding,” Smith said.

Smith hosted a soft opening Saturday last week as a thank you to several contributors, and officially opened for business Tuesday.

The café will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 6 a.m.-2 p.m., serving breakfast and lunch; and Friday and Saturday from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. with special entrees on the dinner menu.

The menu will feature a set daily lunch special, and serve catfish on Fridays. Weekend specials will range from spaghetti to seafood to possibly frog legs.

Smith won’t serve Cajun food out of respect for her former employer, but reported one of her “signature” weekend menu items will be a bananas foster French toast.

“But I serve it the true New Orleans way,” Smith said. “It’s the ice cream and it’s surrounded by a special blend of batter on the French toast; and then it has the fosters sauce poured over that.

“That’s almost a meal in itself,” she added.

She’ll also serve a crawfish hushpuppy (an original creation) as a weekend appetizer, and various specialty desserts like an apple enchilada.

Though Smith has posted operating hours, the café will stay open as long as she still has food to serve.

“I am the type that I believe that the people coming through that door… the guests coming through that door are the reason I am here,” Smith said. “If I’m still here and I still have food, I will serve them.”

The café seats 45 patrons, offers carry-out and will cater any size function.

The restaurant is “very, very family oriented,” Smith noted, from the atmosphere to the hired help.

Smith’s youngest son, Travis and daughters-in-law Cheryl and Ginni are part of the operation.

“Every person that I know in my circle has just come together to do everything they could,” Smith said.

Smith also thanked the Burns and surrounding areas “for bringing us in with open arms.”

“They know how to make a person feel good,” she added.

For more information about the café and catering call (615) 740-9988 or go online to http://www.jeaninescafe.com. Smith will only accept cash or check.