By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Thanks to Grace Clark, Patty Hosch and Ann Milam, dinner just got a little bit easier.
The three women opened Borrowed Thyme in April on the corner of Jefferson and Park streets in Tupelo as a way to help busy families at mealtime.
“The three of us had been talking conceptually that at this point in our lives, we’d like to have a food business,” said Clark. “We came up with the initial idea to have a business where we could sell casseroles. Rather than going out for fast food, families could come by and get dinner for about the same price and go home and eat around the table.”
The idea has evolved a great deal, and now the women offer fresh and frozen casseroles and soups, appetizers, side dishes, grilled meats, salads, vegetarian dishes, breads and desserts, along with a few pre-packaged gourmet items.
“We prepare everything fresh for the cooler, but we make more than we think we need to go in the freezer,” said Milam. “We intentionally over-prepare to stock the freezer.”
Some of the soup offerings include Chicken Gumbo, Seafood Gumbo, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Black Bean Soup. Casseroles, which feed anywhere from one person up to 20 people, include Cheesy Beef Lasagna, Veggie Lasagna, Smoked Turkey Lasagna, Crawfish Fettuccine, Chicken Enchiladas and Chicken Spaghetti.
Side dishes range from macaroni and cheese and baked beans to Cajun cheese grits and a twice-baked potato casserole.
“Our staples are the things we prepared through the years for our families at home. Especially before we opened, if we used new recipes, we tried them out on family and friends,” Clark said.
“We’ve also taken cooking classes, so we have recipes from those chefs as well,” Milam added.
Hosch is pleased that the group has made an effort to provide vegetarian dishes so that everyone who comes in the shop can walk away satisfied.
“We try to offer a vegetarian salad every week – black bean and roasted corn or chickpea and wild rice salad with a light vinaigrette, or a caprese pasta salad with penne, tomatoes, Mozzarella and basil,” Hosch said. “Vegetarians come in and get it for an entree and other people come in and get it for a side dish.”
Everything the women make, from pie crusts to salad dressings to marinades, is homemade.
“We all cook,” Milam said, “and we all love to cook. We try to have everybody know how to make everything here so no one is handicapped in the kitchen.”
The women also offer fresh and frozen grilled meats, like grilled chicken breasts or grilled pork tenderloins. Sometimes, they make meatloaves.
“We want things that are appropriate with our vegetable side dishes,” Hosch said.
The trio has been careful to keep their prices affordable for all their customers.
“We have widows, we have young mothers who have soccer at night, young working mothers who are too busy to cook, and people at our stage of life who don’t want to have to cook for just one or two people,” Milam said.
For instance, a pan of chicken enchiladas that feeds four to six people sells for $14. A beef meatloaf with a tomato glaze that serves four to six is $15; a twice-baked potato casserole to accompany it is $9. (For a complete menu and price list, visit www.borrowedthyme.net.)
“We sell the convenience of not having to go to the grocery store and shop and prepare and cook and clean up after dinner,” Clark said.
Milam said some customers just want to come in and pick up appetizers to serve to guests if they’re entertaining. Others want to just grab an entree and make the side dishes at home themselves.
“Realtors come by and get housewarming gifts for clients,” Milam said. “People come by and get things for friends who have just had a baby or maybe had a death in the family. We sell a lot of chicken salad and pimento cheese.”
The trio has recently taken to offering off-site catering – they deliver the food to a doctor’s office or someone’s home, but they don’t stay and serve it – and they’ve also come up with a new tailgating menu that’s been popular.
“We’re very thankful that our business has gone as well as it has,” Clark said. “We opened softly and experimented through the summer and it’s all been good. We’re grateful for the response.”
What: Fresh and frozen casseroles and soups, grilled meats, side dishes, salads, breads, desserts, appetizers.
Where: 825 Jefferson St., in the building that once housed Park Heights and later The Bistro (behind Burger King at Crosstown).
When: Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Info: (662) 844-2334; www.borrowedthyme.net