Chef John Myers simply got tired of watching his neighbors abandon Marion, AR, establishments for Midtown or Downtown Memphis eateries.
So in May 2012, he bought and renovated Marion's First Baptist Church's 1940's parsonage and crafted an alternative to Marion's fast food, barbecue and burger fare: healthy choices in healthy portions, with surprise specials revealed first on Facebook.
Just like its namesake, The Parsonage Bakery & Deli is a customer's sanctuary from the status quo in East Arkansas restaurants.
"The way he's got it decorated, you have a sense of the history of what this building used to be," said customer Adam Wheat, a staff member of First Baptist Church of Marion. "It's really cool. I appreciate that kind of atmosphere."
Customers appreciate Myers' support of farms and food sources within 150 miles of Marion, like Whitton Farms in Tyronza, AR, and Delta Sol Farm in Proctor, AR.
They'll also rattle his cage if he doesn't post his surprise special-of-the-day on The Parsonage's Facebook page by their morning's second cup of coffee.
"John goes and he is inspired with what's in a market and what he finds that is fresh and good, so you never know what it's going to be," said Marlis Ketrow of Marion.
Monster garden salads. Gourmet soups. Paninis and wraps.
Wrap it all up with homemade baked love: brownies, muffins and cakes.
All at great price points, considering the portions are so huge, you have to take something home.
"Some of the older ladies, they get a little upset about that, but when I tell them, look, it's two meals for the price of one, you know? We box them up, and we push that," said Myers.
About those to-go boxes: recycled material. Myers believes in environmentally sustainable practices in addition to local farm support.
"They're sustainable. They use local ingredients. They recycle. It's just a really very special place," said Memphis customer Kristin Young.
WHAT ANDY LIKES: The Parsonage House Salad, The Wingate sandwich (house pimento cheese & bacon on Parsonage cheese bread, pressed HOT!), Surprise Daily Specials, Excellent Use of Social Media.
SCORES OF THE WEEK:
The Grapevine, 6284 Chester St., Arlington, TN, 100 on Dec. 4
Wendy's, 714 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 99, date not listed
Domino's Pizza, 308 New Byhalia Rd., Collierville, TN, 99 on Dec. 2
Subway, 11615 Hwy. 70, Suite 110, Arlington, TN, 99 on Dec. 3
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