Dominica Harris grew up learning to cook southern soul food from both of her grandmothers.
They would go out and pick fresh beens, greens, cabbage, and okra from the garden, then spend Saturdays in the kitchen cooking meals for Sunday so when they came home from church everything was done.
“My grandmothers on both sides were from the McComb, Mississippi area,” Harris said. “When they went north, I was with my grandmother constantly. They both taught me southern cooking.”
Harris owned her own catering business in Pontiac, Michigan, where she whipped up southern style meals for corporate clients like Ford and GM. She moved to Olive Branch four years ago, and for the last two years has owned a food truck called The Southern Spot.
“I saw how the food truck industry was booming in Memphis, so I was very interested in that,” Harris said. “We’d set up at the Nike warehouse, and we did events out at St. Jude, and were at Court Square downtown, and the food truck park on Winchester Road.”
Harris said she had really good luck with the food truck and decided now was the right time to expand into a brick and mortar location.
“My following became where I felt if I opened a spot somewhere that I would do well,” Harris said.
After looking around at locations, Harris found the perfect spot in Horn Lake at 2570 Goodman Road in the old King Arthur’s Hot Wings & More location.
“I started looking at this strip because Goodman Road is so busy,” Harris said. ‘I found all the wrong places. Then, I came across this. Now I feel like this is where I am supposed to be.”
Harris was welcomed by Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce officials and Mayor Allen Latimer on Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of Downhome Soul Food Kitchen.
Downhome Soul Food Kitchen features a menu of southern soul food and comfort food with daily specials featuring baked or fried chicken, smothered pork chops, fried catfish, meatloaf, turkey wings, BBQ chicken, chicken and dressing, Ox tails, chicken gizzards, and chitterlings.
Sides include southern favorites such as mac ’n’ cheese, cabbage, green beans, candied yams, purple hull peas, greens, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and northern beans.
“Everything is homemade,” Harris said. “So on any given day you can come in for smothered pork chops, catfish, fried chicken, and all our sides. We have all the soul food you want. And Sunday is our big day. Thats when we have ox tails and chicken and dressing.”
Harris also encouraged diners to try her great tasting desserts like banana pudding, sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, and caramel cake.
Business has already been brisk. Harris said they had cars stopping by from almost the minute they put their sign and balloons up last Wednesday.
“That first soft opening we were just doing a few things on the menu, and people were already coming in,” Harris said. “We had the drive thru backed up to Goodman Road on that first day. We kept saying, ‘how many cars are there?’”
Harris said Horn Lake officials at City Hall were extremely helpful finding her a location, and that she is excited to be in Horn Lake.
“This community has been amazing - even from unlocking the doors for the first time - the way the community has embraced us,” Harris said. “They gave me ideas and addresses and are the reason I am here now. I always knew I was going to end up in Mississippi. I thought it would be closer to our property in McComb. But when I saw this area and all the new construction and shopping, I liked it better because I didn’t want to be out in the country. I am so looking forward to seeing how this evolves.”
Harris said she already has plans to renovate the outside of the building, and if all goes well, to add another location with more indoor seating in the future.
“We’re doing a total renovation,” Harris said. “We started with the inside making sure it was clean and appealing. The inside was my first priority. Then next month you’ll see the outside change too. It’s going to have a whole new feel to it. We’re going to take the circus colors out and make it more warm and inviting. And that will be done real soon. Eventually, I’d like to have something with a bigger sit down area. I will keep this spot, but I do want to expand within the next three years.”