Monday, July 4, 2011

This is not what I call Southern Hospitality....

Well it's been a while since I've updated this blog. Not that I haven't been out eating all around town and various other places, I just haven't had the time. Work is a killer! But what happened to me and 19 of my closest friends this past weekend I feel has to be brought to everyone's attention.

Several weeks ago a friend mentioned a little place in Learned, MS that had the best steak he had ever eaten! As a matter of fact he said everything on the menu at Gibbs Old Country Store was excellent. Since this really is an old country store with some interesting quirks I was intrigued. They are open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Someone mentioned they may be open for breakfast but I saw nothing to indicate that. We were told it's always best to get there early, the food is better and sometimes they run out of some of the items on the menu. So the decision was made to take the trip to Learned and find out exactly what this Old Country Store was about.

So on Saturday June 4 we all arrived in Learned around 6:00 pm. You walk in the store and it takes you back to a time when things were simpler. To greet you when you arrive is a cooler and ice chest full of beer. You see, the old country store can sell beer but they can't serve it. So, you just grab you a beer out of the cooler and keep up with how many you drink. Self-serve. And if you are more inclined to stronger spirits you may bring your own and they will provide a cork screw and take wine glasses right down off the shelves for your use. There are two long picnic style tables and some 4 toppers. This is a small place and a real working grocery store. There are many antiques on display which we all found quite interesting. So we take our places on one end of the longest picnic table. The sweet black Labrador was lying on the floor at the other end. Now there was a steady stream of customers but it wasn't too crowded. The menu is very simple with only about 5 entrees. Tonight there was a Filet, a Ribeye, Lamb chops, a Seafood Salad and a Hamburger Steak with onions and gravy. They ranged in price from $18 to $28 and come with 2 sides and bread. Some of the sides include a salad, baked potato, potato casserole, squash casserole, green bean casserole and baked sweet potato. Water was served in sytrofoam cups and I believe Sweet Tea as well as a variety of soft drinks are offered.

We settled in and placed our order. I, of course ordered the Filet and added grilled shrimp for $5 more. I'm a purest when it comes to steak so I had the usual salad and baked potato with butter and sour cream. Our salads were brought out shortly, on yep you got it.. a paper plate. From time to time the woman who was running the cash register would come around and check on us. She was a little rough around the edges and proceeded to tell us about how she had worked in the yard that day and had taken her xanax... not something I would have expected someone working in a restaurant to tell the patrons but hey I didn't expect them to serve my filet on a paper plate either. I believe it was a Chinet plate so it was up to the task. The salad was more than I expected with a variety of greens, red onion, cherry tomato, pickled asparagus and cheese on top with some great Comeback Dressing. My steak was cooked medium rare to perfection. Everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Then it was time for dessert. Tonight they had a few brownies left as well as some bread pudding. Now, I'm not much of a dessert eater but I tasted the bread pudding and it was to die for.... tasted like Crème Brulee. Yum!
The warm brownie with the vanilla and chocolate swirl icecream on top looked very tasty as well.
All in all it was a very enjoyable evening with good food and great friends. We actually stayed there for four hours just talking and enjoying the uniqueness of the place.

With all of that being said I will now get to the point of this blog. My friend Wendy, who I eat with every Friday night, was fast approaching her 50th birthday. She was one of the people on the outing to Learned. I was trying to think of a very special way all of her family and many friends could help her celebrate. We enjoyed Gibbs Old Country Store so much I thought it would be fun to invite Wendy's family and a few close friends to have dinner as a surprise. I figured it would be easy enough to get her back down there. So, about a week before the chosen date of June 18 I start looking for the phone number to the store so I can make a reservation or at least let them know I have a party of about 20 people for a surprise birthday gathering.

I googled it, I looked in the phone book and I called directory assistance to no avail.. I could not find a number for Gibbs Old Country Store. Finally I contacted Jimmy, the friend who told us about the restaurant to see if he had a number or knew how to get in touch with them. I was running out of time. He gave me a cell phone number for the owner, a man named Chip. So, I called and called but never got an answer. I'm getting a little nervous that I'm going to have to change the venue. So I asked Jimmy would he mind calling him... maybe he didn't recognize my number and wouldn't answer. Jimmy was finally able to get in touch with him on Friday. I was told Chip said that as long as we got there early and didn't stay too late, it would be fine. The plan was already for us to be there between 5:30 and 6:00 with Wendy arriving at 6. Since it was a surprise I wanted all of us there to surprise her. And we had plans to meet another round of friends after dinner for some more celebrating so I didn't see it would be a problem with us just hanging around. Not to mention the store is extremely hot with less than adequate air conditioning which they've only had about 6 months.

So, I arrive about 5:25 which I thought was early to find that most of Wendy's family was already there. I had hoped to be there before anyone so I could at least show them around... believe me this restaurant has a code... but they were seated at the long table exactly as I expected. I had brought some fresh flowers for the table and they needed water so as I attended to that I discovered SOMEONE had been extremely RUDE to WENDY'S DAD!!! I am mortified. Wendy's dad is an antique collector/buyer/seller and is very interested in all of the old items in the store.. Wants to take some pictures and is informed in a most UP IN YOUR FACE literally kind of way they don't allow pictures in the store. The Xanax Woman I described earlier had obviously missed her dose. She is at least as old as Wendy's dad if not older and is just flat out being an ass. There are no signs posted anywhere that pictures aren't allowed and certainly the fact that nothing was for sale...So by the time I arrived everyone had been PUT IN THEIR PLACE! Thank you Xanax Woman for your Southern Hospitality.... It will not soon be forgotten. So, as I'm trying to figure out exactly what has happened we are strongly urged to go ahead and order, nothing would be prepared until the last person arrived, which everyone did. No problem. All food was delivered as ordered.... A huge Thank You to the chef/cook... I will reiterate the food here is awesome but the staff/Xanax Woman leaves something to be desired. After several people in our party overheard some very nasty comments about our party of 20 being in the restaurant, I ordered my dessert to go and hoped everyone would follow suite which they did as we had somewhere else to be.

So my night at the unique restaurant known by the name of Gibbs Old Grocery ends.... I just thought! Not only was that night to be Wendy's surprise birthday party it was also their family's Father's Day Celebration since they were all together. Thank you Xanax Lady for trying to make a fool of Wendy's dad and embarrass him in front of all the patrons and his family... Wendy's Dad is so awesome and I only wish my dad were alive so I could celebrate Father's Day with him.

I was not a part of the conversation Wendy had with the owner of the restaurant but from what I can gather from my conversations with Wendy.. hey, it's hearsay... won't hold up in a court of law, but he only cares about his regular customers and doesn't want any publicity especially on FACEBOOK.... his staff do not want their pictures on FB... not that anyone was taking the staff's pictures. Apparently it was a big group and we arrived late (NOT) and stayed too long (NOT) even though Wendy's YUMMY Bread Pudding was served to her in a GO BOX....Dear Owner of Gibb's Old Country Store and (I use this term loosely) Restaurant, If you don't want us there don't tell Jimmy it's OKAY for us to come. For most of my guests it was HOT and Uncomfortable... thanks to the fact you have inadequate air conditioning. Even if the Xanax Lady had been nice, they wouldn't have been back. Xanax Lady was way out of line..... Just a saying, if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. I was very nervous and anxious about how the party I planned would turn out. I expected some professionalism... Excuse me.. I forgot we are going to Learned, MS... I'm sorry we caused Ms Xanax some anxiety... she should have taken her meds. ;-)

I could really go on and on about what wasn't said and what was said to Wendy in her conversation with Mr. Gibbs... but what I take away from this awful experience is that the Old Country Store in Learned, MS doesn't really care if I go there or if you go there. They are stuck in a time when eventually all people die, all of their REGULAR CUSTOMERS will cease to exist and then the Gibbs Old Country Store will cease to exist. And then some of us who remember you, not because of the fine food and one fun night we experienced there on June 4 but because of the horrible treatment of one fine father at not only his daughter's 50th Birthday but his family's celebration of him, his Father's Day... Thanks' Xanax Lady for making this a night we will remember but one we keep hoping we can forget.

It's a beautiful drive from Highway 18 down Learned Road to Learned. It's a shame there is really no reason to take it.

Gibbes Old Country Store on Urbanspoon

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