History



MEME'S RESTAURANT

Picture of Meme's Restaurant
Drawing by Hazel and Richard Brough
from the book “Food, Fun, and Fable.”

     Charley says that he and Meme got into the restaurant business more by accident than design. Because the oyster boats docked within a few hundred feet of their home and because people were always driving up and asking them — they also ran the post office and that made it a good place to ask for information — where they could get some of those wonderful Bon Secour oysters to eat, they decided to open an oyster bar. That was all it was to be in the original plan — just an oyster bar. However, it grew like Topsy. Once people had their fill of oysters, they wanted gumbo and then shrimp and flounder. Charley and Meme added one item after another to their menu.

     They started out on May 3, 1953. In a couple of years they were expanding their space, and later they had to build a summer restaurant on the banks of Bon Secour River. Meme says it was pretty strenuous at first, when they did most of the work themselves, before they had had time to train their help.

Picture of boats
Drawing by Hazel and Richard Brough
from the book “Food, Fun, and Fable.”

     Meme tells a delightful story about a volunteer assistant they had then. It seems there was an old free-lance Baptist preacher around Bon Secour who made a living driving a vegetable truck all week and then preached on Sundays. He came by Meme's and Charley's place about twice a week; he not only sold vegetables but also carried around all the local news about everything and everybody. One day he told the Wakefords that he had heard they were going to expand the oyster bar into a real restaurant. Meme told him they were thinking about it.

     "Well," said Brother Jackson, "if it's true that you ain't going to sell folks any liquor, you'll make out all right."

     "How can you say that, Brother Jackson?" Charley asked. "Everybody tells us that we'll go broke if we don't serve drinks, but we aren't going to do it all the same."

     "Oh, that's all right. You'll make out,” the old preacher replied. "You'll do fine 'cause I'm going to pray for you and I pray hard."

Picture of Food, Fun, and Fable





    "Food, Fun, and Fable" by Charley and Meme Wakeford, a recipe book with local histories and stories, written in 1965. - Click to see entire book in PDF version.




     Well, Charley says they opened the restaurant as planned and they didn't serve drinks and never have. Brother Jackson came by several times to sell his vegetables and to see how they were doing. Meme always asked him in to have a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. When their restaurant had been open two weeks and they had more customers each day, there came a hot Sunday when business was really booming. More and more cars drove up and more and more people came in, and having no trained help Meme said that things were like a madhouse. Just then Brother Jackson rattled up in his truck to see how they were doing. Charley saw him as he got out of the truck and he called out:

     "We sure do thank you for your help. Brother Jackson, but can't you ease up on that praying just a little bit?"

     Charley and Meme say they've enjoyed every minute of the restaurant business. That's probably why people enjoy going to Meme's so much; they add such a warm welcome to the wonderful food they serve. They've had lots of funny things happen to them, too.

Picture of Meme's Restaurant
    A once popular attraction in Bon Secour, Meme's Restaurant drew people from far and near. Damaged during Hurricane Frederick in 1979, it never reopened. People today still come seeking a delicious seafood meal at Meme's Restaurant.

     Charley says that back in the early days when he was more chief cook and bottle washer than "Mine Host,” he got labeled with a new name. In fact, Meme still calls him by it occasionally when she wants to' tease him. It was a very hot day, and before air-conditioning it could be mighty hot in a kitchen in Bon Secour. A large, stout lady came in for lunch at midday and complained that she had lost her way. Charley came in just then in his chef’s hat and she said: "Mr. Meem, I can tell you one thing. You'll never be a real success until you put up more signs." Charley mulled over being "Mr. Meem" for a minute and thought about the fact that the restaurant, was almost too successful for the short time they had been in business. "Lady,” he said, "I'm thinking of taking all the signs down!"

     In the twelve years of its existence, MEME'S has been most popular. In this short time it has become well-known to guests from all the fifty states, the District of Columbia, thirty-four foreign countries and has been mentioned in the "Where to Eat" section of national magazines. This restaurant is not only accessible by a good paved road but also has its own private dock near the front door where guests tie up their boats.

Picture of Meme's Restaurant
Drawing by Hazel and Richard Brough
from the book “Food, Fun, and Fable.”

     Meme and Charley serve the most delicious of food. Gourmets from all over the world have found their way to this charming little village where they may enjoy the famous Bon Secour oysters and other seafood prepared by the old French recipes as well as other foods originated by the Wakefords. Charley and Meme have decided to share some of their finest recipes and these are the ones they have selected:

     In French and Spanish cooking a roux basis is essential. At Meme's the roux is always cooked and ready for it can be made in large quantities and kept under refrigeration; oyster, seafood or chicken gumbo and jambalaya can be quickly produced, "But," says Mr. Charley, "the biggest secret of all is to cook the gumbo slowly and in small quantities." The average pot of gumbo in Meme's is from three to four gallons, and it is cooked SLOW.

     Written in 1965 by Charley and Meme Wakeford for their book “Food, Fun, and Fable.”