Cahawba House, known for its “Bama Bona Fide Southern Cuisine,” is a four-year old, breakfast & lunch venue with sidewalk seats dishing up locally sourced, Southern classics not far from the Capitol Building in Montgomery, Alabama.
Following the statewide mandate to close dine-in service, Cahawba House’s sales plummeted 80 percent in just one week. Instead of worrying about the threat of the coronavirus’s impact on their restaurant, owners and brother and sister pair, Tara and Tim Essary, started to rethink their business model. With more and more grocery stores struggling to restock their shelves, the duo decided to remove all the restaurant’s tables from the dining room to make room for freezers and shelving to create their own market. Tara herself did research by going to different grocery stores in the area to see what each store was out of, which is how the owners determined what to stock the bodega.
After discussing the idea with the health department, Tara and Tim officially opened their restaurant as a bodega on March 23, 2020. Local farmers, who were some of the restaurant’s original suppliers, were happy to jump in and fill the fridges with a variety of local products, and Cahawba House Chef Lashonda King is now busy in the kitchen crafting up restaurant favorites for take-out. The market is now offering to-go items such as fresh bread, milk, dry goods and frozen, southern comfort dinners, all available for curbside pickup. Highlights of the dinners include meat loaf, fried chicken, herb roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, collard greens, fruit cups, salads and more. The restaurant is even selling household items such as soap, gloves, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper. The Essarys continue to ask their patrons what items they need the most, so they can be sure to have those in stock.
This former breakfast and lunch hotspot used to serve mostly tourists staying downtown, but with the travel industry at a standstill, they have reimagined their business in order to provide for the community in an efficient way—choosing to hope over fear.
Cahawba House is now open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily and diners can order online and check out their full menu at cahawbahouse.com. Cahawba House is also live on Waitr and Grubhub.
For a full list of restaurant’s open for takeout, please visit Montgomery’s page on the Dining at a Distance website.