Lansdale and Hawkins

Written by Sophie McNeil Wolf | Photographed by Paul Wolf

Jon Lansdale is a demure force in the kitchen.  Just ask him how he got started in the business over 12 years ago.

His first gig? Creating 3,000 desserts for the Junior League.

“I know. Three thousand desserts for the premier social event in Jackson,” the Crazy Cat Eat Up co-owner says of his Mistletoe Marketplace debut, shaking his head. “But it turned out well. It was a lot of hard work and it set in motion a series of events that lead to (our growth). Everything has worked towards that.”

Connections have continued to play a role in the LeFleur East restaurant’s evolution. Chef Gary Hawkins, now co-owner of Crazy Cat, was a regular for almost ten years at the spot’s cozy Highland Village outfit before joining forces for a larger space.

“Gary had been coming in almost since I had opened. I was hesitant to bring someone in, but I had known him over the years,” Lansdale says. “We clicked and had the same ideals for a quintessential neighborhood restaurant – emphasis on Southern-inspired. No pretense, just good food.”

In 2016, Crazy Cat Eat Up settled into their Canton Mart Square digs, extending seating from around 15 to nearly 60. With it, an expanded menu true to Crazy Cat’s roots and dinner service several nights a week.

While Hawkins and Lansdale like to keep the menu fresh with the season, two things will always be en vogue: quiche and bread pudding.

“Quiche put us on the map,” Lansdale says. That has been the bread and butter at lunch for many years. Dessert-wise, the bread pudding (is popular). We make it every day in-house, and I couldn’t keep up making it in the other location.”

What touches Lansdale most, looking out over the pass through? Crazy Cat is a spot for neighbors to gather, he says, many as loyal regulars.

“On a Friday or Saturday night, everybody will know everybody else. I like it when one table will speak to another table, then another person will come in. It’s just like one big family dining table.”

The camaraderie, he points out, also extends to his seasoned staff, which recognize a customer’s drink preference before they sit. “Nothing gets me more in a panic than if we let someone down. Our customers choose us over a whole lot of other restaurants. When they do, we want to make sure that we live up to what they are expecting.”