It’s hard to beat Bettie Jean’s

Tina’s Waffles & Chicken is named after the owner of the restaurant.
Bettina Williams-Evans, owner of Bettie Jean’s Homestyle Cooking, prepares liver

Bettina Williams-Evans grew up in a home with good food.

“My mom taught me everything I know about cooking, outside from what I learned from my homemaking teacher,” said Evans, who named her new restaurant Bettie Jean’s in memory of her mother, Bettie Jean Dorsey-Williams. “We wanted to honor her in a most special way. … We come from a very large family and part of our family time was in the kitchen cooking.”

Liver and onions was a childhood favorite of Williams-Evans, who grew up in Beaumont with six brothers and one sister. Her family features four generations of country cooking.

“My great-grandmother was a cook. Grandmother was a cook. Mom was an educator and enjoyed cooking on the side for her friends and family,” she said.

Williams-Evans’ dad, Ulysses Williams Sr., was a baker.

“He loved to bake,” she said, “and so some of the desserts that we have are what my dad used to fix, like the tea cakes. That was his recipe. The chocolate pound cake was also his recipe.”

Many of the dishes on Bettie Jean’s menu are favorites of family members, including Bert’s Biscuits & Gravy, Williams-Evans’ brother’s favorite dish.

“I make the sausage gravy from scratch,” she said. “We’re not doing anything that’s packaged. I make it fresh daily.”

The restaurant officially opened on Labor Day for what was deemed Gritsmania Monday.

“We had grits however you liked it,” she said. “With butter, with sugar, with cheese and we featured pork chops with red-eye gravy and grits, liver and grits, fish and grits, and shrimp and grits.”

The shrimp and grits has become very popular, Williams-Evans said.

The restaurant also features an extensive breakfast menu from 7-10:30 a.m., the timeframe in which we visited.

What we tried

We went with Tina’s Waffles & Chicken and weren’t disappointed. The dish is one Belgian waffle topped with powdered sugar and served with six buttermilk-battered fried drumettes and a fruit bowl. The batter is amazing and the chicken is succulent and tender. The waffles were so good they didn’t stand a chance on the plate.

“Mama’s Corner and Chicken & Waffles are our two most popular breakfast dishes right now,” said Jason Provo, short order cook at Bettie Jean’s.

Mama’s Corner is two eggs cooked to order with a choice of bacon or sausage, toast or a biscuit and grits or seasoned potatoes.

“Mama’s Corner actually was named in honor of my grandmother because that’s one of the traditional breakfast dishes that we would have when we would go to her home,” Williams-Evans said.

Bert’s Biscuits & Gravy were exactly what you want — and crave — when you order Biscuits & Gravy. Two southern style (very generous in size) biscuits with gravy along with two eggs, in which we ordered scrambled. We barely could finish the dish, but it was so good, we didn’t want to leave any on the plate.

Cooking is their business, and business is good

“We’re doing exceptionally well,” Williams-Evans said, giving credit to Dave Mulcahy, director of Lamar University SBDC, which was instrumental in providing Bettie Jean’s the educational tools needed to start the business.

“I saw the passion when she walked in the front door. …We put together a financial logic model and calculated what she had to do to break even,” said Mulcahy. “We did the financial piece, we did the narrative piece, we looked for real estate together, and tried to find the best deal we possibly could.”

Bettie Jean’s is doing much better than breaking even. Sales are about three times what were projected.

“September and October are not necessarily great months, but she’s been doing phenomenally for those months,” Mulcahy said.

In fact, the restaurant was featured as the Lamar University Small Business Development Center (SBDC)’s Business of the Month for November.

“The quality of the personality and the quality of the food that we experienced — they’re just going down the path that they need to going to. A lot of people we help, they open up the door and take a right turn or take a left turn and fall off the beaten path. Tina will not. She’s got a great mission out there,” said Mulcahy.

“I wanted to bring some of our childhood to the neighborhood, so I pitched him the idea and started looking at different places in the community — not just in Beaumont — that would really be profitable,” Williams-Evans said. “This area actually found me; I didn’t find it. It took about two years going back and forth with my ideas and researching, deciding what dishes we would be preparing. Then finally he told me my homework was to find suppliers who are getting price points and kind of surveying people that I know to see what they wanted to see on the menu. … And then the financing, the funding part came next.”

After 13 years of saving profits from her catering company, Simply Delicious Catering, Williams-Evans was able to pay cash for everything.

“I purchased items along the way and so I knew once I opened, all I would have to do is purchase my major appliances,” she said.

Also worth noting is that Williams-Evans volunteers her time with Inspire Encourage Achieve (IEA), a local nonprofit that helps underprivileged youth, Mulcahy said.

“She helps those children that are at-risk find out what it’s like to work in the hospitality industry and possibly have a career in that industry,” he said. “She’s not all about her. She’s involved in a lot of things and community development is one of them.”

Restaurant hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., with breakfast served 7 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Bettie Jean’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The restaurant is at 2604 Dowlen Road, Suite A in Beaumont. For more information call (409) 860-5326.

 

Need an event catered? Visit www.simplydeliciouscatering.biz and check out Williams-Evans’ catering services.

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