When Flem Mize quit his job of 20 years at Ole Miss to open up his own restaurant, a lot of his friends and family thought he was crazy. Undeterred, Mize rented an old gas station on North Lamar Boulevard and converted it into a casual dining restaurant called the Beacon. After one day at Beacon, Mize brought home $100 to his wife and set it on the table.
“If we can do this every day, we’ll be just fine,” his wife told him.
The premise was simple: no glitz or glamour, no worries about reviews or dignitaries, just do the job well and people will want to come back.
“(Mize) wanted to give people good food at a fair price, along with good service,” said Mize’s son, Tony. “The same holds true for today.”
That attitude is one of the main reasons Beacon, Oxford’s oldest restaurant, is still thriving 56 years after it opened its doors. Acting as a time capsule with booths, not much has changed at the restaurant. The booths are the same as they were in 1959, as are the tables, chairs, and often times the people.
“We have the same people day-in and day-out,” Tony said. “They come in their little groups and eat together the same way they have for years. We have fun up here, it’s a home away from home for a lot of people.”
The younger Mize attributed much of the success to treating all his customers the same way. You won’t find any signed pictures on the walls, because to the Mize’s, a celebrity’s eggs are just as important as a construction crew’s eggs, even if the celebrity is Academy Award-nominee Samuel L. Jackson.
Jackson found himself in Beacon at 11:10 one morning and asked the matriarch Mize if they were still serving breakfast. Mize informed him they stopped serving breakfast 10 minutes ago and he could order off the lunch menu.
“I don’t think my mom had any idea who it was,” said Tony with a laugh.
At Beacon, the clientele isn’t the rich and famous, it’s Rich and Amos. They cater to students, working people and anyone else that happens through their doors.
“We’re a small mom ‘n’ pop business that’s been very fortunate to be successful for a very long time,” he said. “We have people that have worked here for over 25 years. They didn’t learn to cook from a culinary school, they learned it from their mama and their daddy.”
A lot changed at the location in 1959 as they went from pumping gas to pouring coffee. Not much has changed since then, but the Mizes and Beacon are still just fine.
Michael Quirk is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at email@example.com.