Written by Sophie McNeil Wolf | Photographed by Paul Wolf
Jon Lansdale is a demure force in the kitchen. Â 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.
â€œI know. Three thousand desserts for the premier social event in Jackson,â€ the Crazy Cat Eat Up co-owner says of his Mistletoe Marketplace debut, shaking his head. â€œBut 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.â€
Connections have continued to play a role in the LeFleur East restaurantâ€™s evolution. Chef Gary Hawkins, now co-owner of Crazy Cat, was a regular for almost ten years at the spotâ€™s cozy Highland Village outfit before joining forces for a larger space.
â€œGary had been coming in almost since I had opened. I was hesitant to bring someone in, but I had known him over the years,â€ Lansdale says. â€œWe clicked and had the same ideals for a quintessential neighborhood restaurant â€“ emphasis on Southern-inspired. No pretense, just good food.â€
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 Catâ€™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.
â€œQuiche put us on the map,â€ 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 couldnâ€™t keep up making it in the other location.â€
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.
â€œOn 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. Itâ€™s just like one big family dining table.â€
The camaraderie, he points out, also extends to his seasoned staff, which recognize a customerâ€™s drink preference before they sit. â€œNothing 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.â€