By JACK WEATHERLY
Doe’s Eat Place made a name for itself by keeping it simple.
And in this 75th year for the Greenville steaks and tamales eatery, it continues to prove that an original can be replicated.
Two franchises will be opened in metro Jackson, making 10 thus far in four states, according to Charles Signa, president of Doe’s Inc.
One will take over the space formerly occupied by Beagle Bagel in the Promenade Shopping Center on County Line Road in Ridgeland.
Steve Beagles and wife Lisa Beagles targets the opening for Feb. 1.
The couple, who moved from Charlotte, N.C., to the area seven years ago, have since retired from corporate management – he with Entergy Nuclear and she with AT&T.
Meantime, he says they fell in love with Mississippi and decided to look for a retirement business, deciding they had “landed in paradise,” which would be a good place to raise their two girls, now in the third and sixth grades, respectively.
They looked at 100 businesses and subjected 20 to intense vetting, he said.
During their search, “the city of Ridgeland said, ‘We want you to meet the Signas,’” Steve Beagles said.
They did, and the warmth of the Signa family sold them on a Doe’s, he said.
“We pretty much didn’t want to be with Applebee’s or Chile’s,” he said, adding that he did not mean that as criticism of those chains.
The couple visited some of the Doe’s franchises, and discovered that some have added to the simple Signa formula of steaks, tamales, shrimp, salad and chili, Beagles said.
But the Doe’s on County Line Road will have “exactly what [customers] expect from the original,” he said.
And why not? The Signas have been recognized by prestigious magazines such as Bon Appetit and by the James Beard Foundation, which selected Doe’s the winner of its American Classic Award in 2007.
The other new franchise will be in the former space for the Swain Automotive body shop in Florence on Highway 49. Efforts to talk with franchisee Niles Swain were unsuccessful.
Two more franchises are in the works, one in Jonesboro, Ark., and the other in Springfield, Mo., Signa said.
The Springfield restaurant will be reopening after a franchise holder retired and couldn’t find someone to run it, Signa said.
The original Doe’s, which is still operating, was opened in 1941 in a grocery that the Signa family owned.
The second Doe’s was licensed in Little Rock in 1988 and is still selling steaks and tamales. It was one of former President Bill Clinton’s favorite dining spots.
“With our know-how and our want-to, we decided that we would pursue different avenues in the business, and have met a lot of good people in doing it,” said Signa, 43, a third-generation member of the business.