Business Person of the Month: Tommy and Melissa Dykes

EBRPL Business Person, EBRPL Business Tip

MePaMePa’s Diner
Tommy and Melissa Dykes
6643 Sullivan Road
Greenwell Springs, La  70739
(located in La Central Plaza)
(225) 400-9912
mepascentral@gmail.com

Hours:
Tues & Wed 7am – 8pm
Thurs 7am – 9pm
Fri 5:30 am – 10 pm
Sat 7am – 9pm
Sunday Brunch 8am – 4pm
Takeout available

MePa’s Diner is located in Central and serves melt-in-your-mouth Southern cooking. Owners Melissa and Tommy Dykes have created a restaurant that promotes the warm family feelings found when dining at Grandma’s house.  As Melissa states, “We want people to feel welcomed, like they’ve become part of our extended family.”

MePa’s Diner opened in 2012, serving breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday, with a special Sunday brunch served from 8am to 4pm.  Daily specials include Steak and Gravy or Fried Pork Chops (Tuesday), Chicken Fried Steak–Melissa’s personal favorite–or Hamburger Steak and Gravy or Liver and Onions (Wednesday), Spaghetti and Meatballs or Chicken and Dumplings (Thursday), and Baked Chicken or Fried Fish (Friday). The Daily Specials come with two side items along with bread and are very reasonably priced. The dessert menu features rotating favorites such as Lemon Ice Box Pie, Mississippi Mud Pie, and Banana Pudding – all homemade.

Beginning in March 2013, hours were expanded to include dinner. The restaurant now stays open till 8, 9, or 10pm depending on the day of the week. Thursday and Friday are designated as steak nights.

Opening a restaurant came naturally for Melissa after working for Broadline, a food supply business, for over 10 years selling food to restaurants, schools, and hospitals. Melissa loves to cook and entertain people in her home and has catered outside events for several years. Cooking runs in both Melissa’s & Tommy’s family. Many remember Tommy’s mother, Lorraine Dykes (known as “The Cake Lady”), who made wedding cakes in Central for many years. Melissa’s grandmother, Florence Hudson McAdams, is also well-known in the Central area for her cooking and the recipes she shared with others.

MePa’s Diner offers family style dining that developed as people would often sit down to visit with other diners and ended up sharing the table while eating their meal. Melissa and Tommy felt the community needed this type of family restaurant and they wanted to offer the people of Central a place to eat out without having to drive to Baton Rouge. They also welcomed the opportunity to create more jobs in the Central area. All of the family has been involved with the restaurant in some fashion since it opened, either helping in the kitchen or serving out on the floor. Tommy, who works as a superintendent for a large cabinet maker, was in charge of the remodeling effort of the restaurant having done most of the work himself.

The name MePa’s is a combination of two names familiar to most of us in Louisiana as nicknames for grandparents: Meme and Papa. In fact, Melissa and Tommy were given these nicknames by their own grandchildren. The restaurant name was also chosen since several menu items came from their mothers, grandmothers, and other relatives’ recipes and the dishes are named for them. Items on the kids’ menu are named after Melissa and Tommy’s grandchildren.

The kitchen is in the capable hands of experienced cook Casey Springer.  “She’s VERY good!” Melissa states emphatically.  Casey oversees the preparation of family recipes like made-from-scratch fried green tomatoes, onion rings, and daily specials. The specials, Monte Cristo sandwich, and fresh fried chicken fingers are the most popular. Another popular item is the Sensation Salad. MePa’s has recently begun serving Blue Bell ice cream in your choice of a bowl or cone. You can top off a meal with a cool dessert or drop in for a quick sweet treat.

Melissa and Tommy live their lives according to Proverbs 16:3 (“Commit to the Lord in whatever you do and He will establish your plans”) and have this displayed on the wall of the restaurant as a daily reminder. They have faced many challenges since opening the restaurant including earning the support and business of the community.  Finding the best means of advertising that reaches the residents of Central and the surrounding area has been difficult. At the local Christmas parade they distributed over 400 discount coupons and only one was redeemed for a meal. Melissa and Tommy advise others starting a small business to carefully select the community they choose for their business to ensure a good fit.

Melissa and Tommy want the Central community to know that they are here for the long term. Tommy, a Central resident for 45 years, and Melissa, whose mother and her 7 brothers and sisters graduated from Central High School, are dedicated to offering Central the best old-fashioned cooking served in the most welcoming atmosphere.  “We want our customers to come and make themselves at home. Wear your comfortable attire, bring the kids, and enjoy yourself!”

For a family friendly dining experience, stop by MePa’s Diner today located off Sullivan Road in the La Central Plaza shopping center next to Chase Bank. They look forward to serving you.

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