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local flavor
Story By Shaila Creekmore, Photos By Dero Sanford

Need a quick, easy lunch? Want a healthy dinner, but no time to cook it? Want a gourmet dessert for your dinner party? A new business in town is here to meet all of those needs.

Judy Lamp, a registered nurse in the cardiovascular unit at NEA Baptist, knows how hard it can be to get a tasty and healthy lunch on fast food time. So after 32 years as a nurse, she decided to take on a new challenge and opened Southern Cooking, which she describes as a “pickup” restaurant.

With no in-house seating, the restaurant is not your typical food establishment but is based rather on carryout dining. Limited delivery is also available for large orders.

“As a nurse, we were always looking for a quick and convenient place to get lunch or dinner. We found that when you order from a sit down restaurant, the quality is not always the same. Since that’s all we do, we have that quality I think,” said Lamp. “We work toward making sure all our meals going out the door taste good and that even the presentation is done well.”

Open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., customers can call and order sandwiches, sides, salads and entrée specials for lunch or dinner and their meal will be ready when they arrive to pick it up. A benefit of this service is the ability to order separate lunches for several people in the office and having one person pickup the order.

“We have a lot of offices that call in multiple orders and then pick it up,” said Lamp. “We have some individuals that order from us four days a week.”

The restaurant’s entire menu is available all day with rotating entrée specials featured each day. For lunch, a “lite” portion of each entrée comes with salad and bread and for dinner, entrees are served with a larger portion and a side. Currently those specials include spaghetti with meat sauce on Tuesday, Mexican chicken on Wednesday, pot roast on Thursday and white beans and ham on Friday. Lamp said those daily specials would soon change to lighter items for summer including kabobs and more fruit and salad items.

In addition to these daily specials, additional dinner items include chicken potpie, beef lasagna, chicken lasagna, meat loaf, roasted pork tenderloin, smothered chicken breast and chicken stir-fry. With two hours notice, these items can be hot and ready for you to pickup, or you can heat them at home. Another option is to pickup several frozen meals to be used at your convenience.

The current menu features five salads with a choice of dressing served with a yeast biscuit or corn muffin. One of the most popular salads is the Tri-Salad, a choice of three among chicken salad, tuna salad, fruit salad or a small green salad. The green salad is a spring mix and iceberg lettuce topped with tomato, carrots, shredded cheese, cucumbers and bacon. A Caesar salad is available with homemade croutons, fresh Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing. Roasted chicken breast can also be added to either salad. The chef salad is made with spring mix, iceberg lettuce, deli ham, turkey, tomato, egg, cheese, cucumber, bacon and sunflower seeds. For a salad with a bit more kick, a taco salad is available with iceberg lettuce, spicy taco meat, cheddar cheese and salsa topped with sour cream and chips.

Sandwiches by Southern Cooking include honey-roasted turkey, deli ham, tuna salad, chicken salad, grilled cheese, BLT and a club with turkey, ham and bacon. Each of the sandwiches comes with a choice of sourdough, croissant, white or wheat bread and choice of cheese and garnishes. Sandwiches are served with a choice of baked, barbecue or regular chips, fresh vegetables, fruit salad or potato salad.

Potatoes are a specialty offered by Southern Cooking: roasted potato wedges with parmesan cheese, coarse salt and pepper and baked sweet potato fries coated with spices. Cooked to order, the potatoes must be ordered 25 minutes before picking up the order.

For dessert, Southern Cooking has an extensive dessert menu with items available by the slice or whole. Items include Neiman Marcus brownies, lemon bars, key lime bars, eight varieties of pies including peanut butter and lemon that are frozen, and several cakes including Italian cream, carrot, strawberry and pound cakes,

A very important aspect of Southern Cooking is the price. While Lamp prides her restaurant on quality food, she also pays special attention to keeping the food affordable. Each sandwich and side and entrée lunch are $6.75 and salads are $3.95 and $6.50. Dinner portions of the entrees are $9.95 for one, $18.95 for two and a family size serving three to five is available for $34.95.

While the restaurant does not have sit-down seating for lunch or dinner, it does have a special events room available for catered parties of 12 or more with seating up to 24. The room can be reserved during regular business hours for birthday parties, classes, business meetings, church groups or organization meetings.

Lamp does the majority of the cooking for the restaurant with the help of two fellow nurses who work for her part-time, Lonna Thompson and Diane Ellison. In addition, her friend and fellow nurse, Marilyn Jones, and her mother, Alice Lamp, volunteer when needed. Lamp said most of her recipes come from a collaboration of recipes from her mother, grandmother and friends but she says she has also enjoyed cooking and developing new things to try in the restaurant.

“I have always enjoyed cooking. I always wanted to own my own business and I enjoy the challenge of it,” Lamp said.

Southern Cooking, 2729 East Nettleton, is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 268-1211 or view its online menu at www.southerncookingllc.com.