By KATIE EUBANKS
How these restaurant owners went from
corporate America to steak and barbecue
Steve and Lisa Beagles were working hard at corporate jobs in 2016 when they realized they needed a change.
Technically they were retirement age, but retirement wasn’t an option: They had two young daughters.
“Steve said, ‘We just need to find a business that’s been orphaned,’” Lisa recalls — “orphaned” meaning the owner is ready to give the company to his or her children, but they don’t want it.
She and Steve pursued first one, then another “orphaned” business in the Jackson area. Both times, the deal fell through. Then they tried a different tack: They called the city of Ridgeland.
“Mayor McGee called me back within 15 or 20 minutes,” Lisa says.
A week later, the Beagles had all but signed a deal with the owners of Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi, to operate an independent franchise. Doe’s Eat Place of Ridgeland opened on County Line Road on April 25, 2017.
Steve and Lisa have only lived in Mississippi for 10 years (they’re originally from the Carolinas). But as local business owners, they and their daughters have grown roots in the Jackson area.
Sarah-Beth, 15, and Rachael-Ann, 12, attend St. Augustine School in Ridgeland. “They come to the restaurants with us,” Steve says. “It’s just the four of us, but they ended up in a much bigger family (of restaurant staff).”
“Some of the normal stuff that goes on in restaurants we don’t allow, because our children are there,” Lisa says. “We’ve been blessed with staff that totally get who we are and what we stand for.”
From 1 restaurant to 2
The summer after opening Doe’s Eat Place of Ridgeland, the Beagles were on their way back from Disney World, and they had to stop suddenly in Ocala, Florida, because Sarah-Beth needed an emergency appendectomy.
While they were there, their landlord called and said a restaurant space behind Doe’s was about to be available. OK, they thought — they could discuss that during their 14-hour drive home.
As the family got back on the road, a recovering Sarah-Beth said she felt like she could eat some barbecue. They stopped at a Sonny’s BBQ.
That’s when the lightbulb flashed: Why not open a barbecue restaurant? After all, Steve had requested barbecue ribs for Father’s Day, and Lisa had been unable to find any good ones in Madison County. She’d enlisted the Doe’s staff to help instead.
“So sitting at the table, we had a Sonny’s napkin, and the girls started drawing on it about a logo,” Lisa says. One of those sketches became the logo for Steve’s Ribs and Grill — located right behind Doe’s Eat Place of Ridgeland.
“To this day, we’ve got that napkin framed at Steve’s.”
Steve’s specializes in Carolina-style, mustard-based and vinegar-based barbecue, and the recipes are “scratch-made (and) all original,” Steve says.
Both Steve’s and Doe’s feature family recipes, while Doe’s also includes items universal to all Doe’s locations. “Every one of (the Doe’s locations) pretty much has their own signature (dish),” Lisa says, “like our seafood, my pecan pie.”
However, though the Beagles can cook, they don’t work in the kitchen.
“We’re managing it from the customer perspective,” Lisa says. “We enjoy being there building those relationships.”
That seems to have paid off: Some customers, especially on a Friday, will have lunch at Steve’s and dinner at Doe’s, Lisa says.
“Lisa’s got several friends that she met strictly from them being diners,” Steve says. “Now they stay in touch and check on one another. When someone has a problem, they’ll put them on each other’s prayer list.”
Those prayers have been crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though all restaurants have struggled, Doe’s and Steve’s are now back open for dine-in while obeying social distancing requirements, Lisa says (see box for hours).
Running two restaurants is hard, especially right now. Even the road to ownership was bumpy — but the Beagles are grateful.
“When the other (business) deals fell through, it reminded Steve and me how we ended up in Mississippi, and that was that every door closed for us in the Carolinas,” Lisa says. “We literally got pushed down here. I called it a God push.
“So we look at where we are today … as God pushing us. This is where we need to be.”