Innovation in the Delta

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Over at The Bitter Southerner is a well-written and positive piece about how gas stations have managed to survive in the rural Mississippi Delta -- by addressing the need for restaurants and small grocery stores in a region that unimaginative "activists" and government bureaucrats know only as a "food desert:"

Image by Nsaum75, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
Other nearby operations have adjusted their business model to service both a hungry crowd and those needing fuel. Spend one day traveling the two-lane highways of the Mississippi Delta and you will undoubtedly come upon one of some 50 Double Quick stores scattered throughout the region. With nearly a century under their belt in the petroleum business, the Gresham family, owners of the Double Quick chain, have learned to accommodate the near-constant fluctuation in gas prices by operating these shops as full-fledged restaurants and occasional grocery stores.

"We tend to think of ourselves as a food destination first, that just happens to sell fuel," says Damon Crawford, director of marketing for Double Quick. Customers in search of fried chicken tend to agree.
And it's not all fried chicken: The combination of variety and quality in unexpected places reminds me a little of the first time I read about some of the hole-in-the-wall establishments described by the late Richard Collin in The New Orleans Underground Gourmet as a teen. A short list ranges the gamut from a particularly inspired take on the moon pie (not for me, but still), through boudin sausage, to Indian cuisine.

As a native Mississippian, it wasn't the quality or variety of what was available so much as where it was showing up that surprised me. But I grew up in Jackson, and am not very familiar with that part of the state, despite the fact that my father's side of the family comes from there.

But, should I happen to go through there, I look forward to making a stop or two for the food.

-- CAV

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