Shelia Tisdale moved her restaraunt Cafe on Academy just two doors down but the move was the best thing to happen to her and her customers. Tisdale's grand reopening was celebrated with a November 15, ribbon cutting followed with poetry and short story readings by Williamsburg Technical College students.
Tisdale opened the original Cafe of Academy in May 2011 but soon found she needed more space. This time, instead of renting she decided to buy - but the idea of investing in such a monumental venture caused her to vassilate back and forth. It would take Tisdale's father Jamel, an expert in real estate to help her make the final decision.
The building,located at 109 Academy Street, was gutted and reworked to met a owner's needs. Construction crews were supported by Jamel, Sheilia’s husband Stacey and his dad Carroll. Over a three month period, three layers of flooring were removed to receive oyster grey tiles. Walls were painted a rich charcoal to complement glossy black trim. And final touches include fire-engine red table cloths which provide punches of color in the contemporay space. The walls are currently bare but will soon be home to artwork and photography by local professionals.
Friendly waitstaff check on diners at regular intervals, as does the owner who can be seen stopping by tables to chat with guests. Friendly may be a catchword for Cafe' on Academy but smiles aren't what’s bringing back the customers. Tisdale says her secret to great food are her "girls" in the back. The lunch menu features her famous high roller - a loaded down spinach tortilla as well as soups, salads and baked potatoes.
Each Tuesday and Thursday includes specials. Diners will find her equally famous lasagna each Tuesday but Thursday's special is open to the whim of the chefs who Tisdale says is one reason the business is flourishing. "These girls - they're the best," said Tisdale. "That’s the best group that Kingstree's got. They have been what’s kept me going since we've opened." She adds that nothing goes out without first being inspected by manager Sadie. "If she sees something that isn't presentable to go out, she'll stop it," said Tisdale. "She is the kitchen's backbone."
Tisdale also points to husband Stacey for his unwavering devotion and assistance. "He's been my backbone through this entire thing." However, when it comes to the root of her success Tisdale credits a higher power. She recalled one morning before the restaraunt opened a friend asked her to pray with him. "We all grabbed hands in that friut stand and he prayed," said Tisdale. "And afterward, I said God is in that place. He going to be in there from the day we open to the day we close."
Hours of operation are Monday through Wednesday 11- 2, and Thursday and Friday 11- 8.