By Emily Dewitt
Fergndan’s, a family-owned pizza cafe in Oxford, draws in many pizza lovers in the LOU area. For some, it’s their only means of dairy and gluten-free pies. For the owners, the need for different options stemmed from a family disease.
What sets their restaurant apart from other local pizzerias, besides being family-owned, is that Fergndan’s offers gluten free and dairy free options for those with food allergies or intolerances. Dan Ferguson, son of the owner of the restaurant, said his father has Celiac disease so offering gluten-free options was integral.
“My dad, if there is like the slightest amount of cross-contamination, then he’ll get sick,” he said.
For those who have dietary restrictions, Fergndan’s menu offers a wide variety of delectable options. Such as pizzas, Italian sandwiches, soup, salads, and many desserts. All of their pizzas can be gluten-free, with certain pizzas being completely gluten-free for those with severe allergies like Ferguson’s father.
Anja Diercks, a student employee at Fergndan’s expressed the care that the Fergusons take to create their gluten-free pizzas.
“The amount of care they put into a gluten-free allergy pizza is incredible. When I started learning how to make these pizzas, Dan taught me very very specifically what I needed to do. He wouldn’t let me do it by myself without supervision until he was certain I did everything in a way that ensured gluten wouldn’t come in contact with the pizza. We don’t want anyone going home unable to have pizza, or not feeling well because it wasn’t as gluten-free as they originally thought,” Diercks said.
The name Fergndan’s is a collaboration of the owner’s sons’ nicknames – “Ferge” and “Dan.” Dan Ferguson, son of owners Laurabeth and John, said his dad was the inspiration behind the restaurant.
“He’s worked all the angles of the food industry. It has always been his passion,” Ferguson said.
He said his father’s favorite part of the restaurant business was getting to talk to the customers, and that’s something Fergndan’s holds true today.
“He’s a very good people person,” Ferguson said. “I try to watch him and pick up on that, but I still have a ways to go.”
The Fergusons said the idea of community and family is highly valued in their lives and at their restaurant. Customers are treated like family and feel as though they are walking into a neighbor’s home to share a meal.
“The essence of their business is family, and it’s something not hard to see. They genuinely care about their employees and how we are doing with life in general and try their best to understand when we’re going through hard times. There have been multiple times where I’ve been stressed out with classes, and my bosses, Mrs. Laurabeth and Mr. John, have noticed I was stressed and let me off early to study or get more prepared for my classes the next day,” Diercks said.
Getting the whole family involved in the family-run restaurant business was important once Fergndan’s was created. Ferguson said it was his dad’s restaurant stories that hooked him.
“When I was little I grew up on the stories of him talking about crazy things they would do at the restaurant,” Ferguson said.
Fergndan’s established themselves in Oxford in 2016 as a food truck. Business skyrocketed and they soon began looking for other options.
Once finances were in order, the family began looking for a location to start a restaurant; they rooted themselves in a small building on 176 MS-30 in Oxford.
No matter what your order looks like, Fergndan’s ensures family and community support along with a great tasting pizza.
“We just wanted to have a big family business and show people in the world that families can work together and love each other, have a great time and still be successful,” Ferguson said.