Growing up in a small family, Opelika native Kasha Moore always admired the TV shows that had large families sitting around the table to eat. This led to her desire to open her own restaurant, Southern & Savory Café.
“I never had a chance to have that. I was raised by a single mother, and so I felt like if I get my own restaurant and kitchen I’ll have a big family every day. They can sit at my table,” Moore said. “It’s almost like we have a little family reunion every day. I meet so many sweet, new people. Every day I get to see somebody new and they become family.”
Moore, 50, became passionate about cooking at the age of nine while learning from her parents and grandmother.
“I love the kitchen. My grandmother was a great cook, my father was a great cook and my father taught my mother how to cook, so it’s just in the family genes about cooking,” Moore said.
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Her family passed down Southern-style recipes and she said her mother, Betty Shealey, was her primary teacher. Shealey now works with her daughter at the restaurant.
Moore graduated from Opelika High School in 1990 and decided to pursue one of her other passions first, becoming a hairdresser. She worked in the beauty industry for 30 years and owned her own salon. She also had two sons, Anthony, 26, and Jeremiah, 10.
When the City of Opelika began hosting Food Truck Friday events downtown, Moore thought it was time to give cooking a shot.
She and Anthony brainstormed possible names and decided on Southern & Savory after Moore said God gave her the name in a dream.
For about three months, Moore and her oldest son would cook for Opelika’s weekly event. If they missed attending one Friday, Anthony said people would call and ask where they were.
“We used to be a real big hit up in Opelika at Food Truck Friday. Mrs. Ali (Rauch) introduced me to the world in Opelika. That’s how we really got busy, busy with it,” Moore said.
Rauch, president and CEO of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, spread the word about Southern & Savory on social media one day and Moore said the “doors flew open from there.”
Next, Moore moved into a small location connected to a gas station, which they quickly outgrew after about six months. Then her older sister, Letitia Baker, informed her that the Veggies To Go restaurant had closed making the space on East Glenn Avenue in Auburn available.
Moore said she came running.
Baker said when she found out the space was empty she knew it would be the perfect spot for her younger sister’s restaurant to grow, describing it as a “match made in heaven.”
After purchasing the space, Moore and her family began the process of renovating the building and adding new equipment.
“The only thing I could do was pray through it and it happened,” Moore said. “I had to have a lot of patience, a lot of trust in the Lord to get me through, so we made it. It was not easy, but we made it.”
Besides Moore’s mother and oldest son, her niece and brother-in-law also work at the restaurant. Baker is a frequent customer as she works right next door at Cadence Bank. She’s been a banker for about 25 years and also graduated from Opelika High School in 1985.
“It has been fun. It’s been eye-opening to see what’s required to get a business started, an exhausting process,” Baker said. “One of my biggest things is it shows you that you can persevere. I’ve watched (Moore) over and over, and each time where it seems like it was insurmountable, she did persevere.”
Anthony said he enjoys working with his mother and the rest of the family because they’re all on the same page. He believes opening in this location was the best decision they’ve ever made.
Southern & Savory officially opened in Auburn on 815 East Glenn Ave. on Feb. 9. The restaurant, specializing in everyone’s Southern favorites, is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Saturdays.
The menu consists of anything from fried pork chops, fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens and more. Baker said her sister will “give anyone a run for their money when it comes to baked chicken.”
“The response from the community has been overwhelmingly beautiful. We’ve been booked and busy every day. I thank God. It’s so rewarding,” Moore said. “When you have a dream to do something and you’re passionate about doing it, but you need that extra grace from the Lord to boost it on up, and he really did.”
In the future, she hopes to open a second location in Opelika.
“I’m looking forward to growing the family,” Moore said.