By Ben Fugler
When Ross Hester and Joe Stinchcomb opened Bar Muse in the newly renovated lobby of the Lyric Theater, the vision did not stop there. The former Saint Leo managers partnered with former sous-chef Patrick Hudgins to create Good Day Cafe, the newest local lunch spot in the alley between the Lyric and South Depot.
Drawing inspiration from New Orleans favorite Turkey & The Wolf, Good Day is quickly establishing itself as a fan-favorite in a town full of options.
“We wanted to carve out a niche for something that Oxford didn’t have,” said Hester. “A place that focused primarily on elevated, craft sandwiches.”
Good Day Cafe prides itself on sourcing ingredients locally and maintaining a relationship with the north Mississippi food community.
Home Place Pastures in Como provides the beef for The Good Burger, a best-burger contender topped with house-made pickles, fried shallots, and a garlic mustard aioli.
During the Spring and Summer seasons, one can expect to find playful uses of fresh, local produce from Oxford Community Market. Good Day also values its relationship with Chicory Market, and has plans for continuing its chef pop-ups in 2023.
Head Chef Patrick Hudgins, another Saint Leo alum, uses his creative kitchen experience to craft the Good Day menu and introduce Oxonians to new flavor profiles.
“We try to take a classic chicken sandwich and elevate the flavors by incorporating a Korean fried chicken marinade and a kimchi cucumber slaw to take the sandwich to the next level,” said Hester. “ I try to come up with clever names to keep things fun.”
When asked about how their time at Saint Leo has helped them in the genesis of their newest venture, Hester notes that the hospitality industry teaches both problem-solving and teamwork.
“You learn how to serve and take care of not only your guests and community but your team and staff as well,” said Hester. “Managing at Saint Leo taught me a lot and having an MBA also helped.”
The alley has a history of fun lunches. In years past, Corbin Evans’s Oxford Canteen occupied the space and provided a unique and affordable option to both locals and visitors.
“I remember the first time I ate in the alley and the first time I had a Mexican Coke and the Brisket Grilled Cheese,” said Hester. “It was incredible. It’s really exciting to get to reinvigorate the space and build on what Canteen started. We still carry Lulu’s Iced Coffee from Corbin, so a little piece of the original Canteen lives on.”
Success for Good Day Cafe is a customer who comes back to the window to give praise to the sandwich. Financial success comes from happy guests, according to Hester.
With students returning from Winter break, Oxford’s biggest attractions, Springtime and Baseball, give Hester, Stinchcomb, and Hudgins a lot to look forward to.
Good Day envisions growth in the Spring and hopes to open for more days during the week while maintaining a steady stream of happy patrons.
Mississippi’s curious weather patterns have not stopped business in the alley, as online ordering and Fetch delivery have ensured that anyone can have a Good Day.
Lyric owners Bradley Bishop and Lindsay Dillon-Maginnis have created a masterpiece by utilizing their newly renovated space to include not only Oxford’s finest cocktail bar, but also its newest culinary treasure, Good Day Cafe.
“Bradley and Lindsay have been incredibly supportive of both Bar Muse and Good Day Cafe,” said Hester. “They opened up their space to us and have always been some of our biggest supporters.”
Good Day Cafe and its customers are thankful that the long-vacant alley window kitchen is back, serving an exciting and creative menu. Tacked onto the side of the historic Lyric Theater, the new restaurant is poised to have a busy Spring, with plenty of foot traffic returning to the Oxford Square.