by Sophie McNeil
Food has always had meaning for the Chester family. Growing up in Yazoo City, Macy and Chad Chester’s mother ran a catering business called Sister Sister. Now grown up and with their own business, this “sister brother” team plate up home style meals four days a week at Cosmopolitan Café, all while catering throughout the city on any given day.
Seeing her mother, Terry Chester Gibson, cater growing up was the inspiration Macy needed while in college to get into the business herself. Having never cooked before, Macy helped her mother cater a wedding. After that event, she changed her major to hotel/restaurant management, but Terry wasn’t so sure.
“She said, ‘You can’t even boil water,’ but I said, ‘Well, I can learn,’” Macy said with a chuckle. “So, I did.”
Throughout college, her mom then gave her side jobs to help her learn the catering industry. After graduating, Macy worked at the Hilton in Memphis in their catering department, though she worked mostly in event planning.
After coming back to Jackson and working at local restaurants such as Julep and Strawberry Café, she decided it was time to start her own business. “I knew I wanted to be in Fondren,” she said. “I love this area. I love everyone around here. They want this community to continue to grow.”
First opening in 2010, Cosmopolitan Catering by Macy was only half the space it is now in Fondren Village. When the hair salon, Social Agenda, vacated the neighboring suite, she knew it was time to expand and open up a restaurant.
From day one of opening Cosmopolitan Café in 2011, people from all over the city began lining up for the Chester’s plate lunches. So what makes lunch there so special?
“Each thing we offer is our recipe or a recipe we’ve been using from our grandparents and their grandparents. They’re all family recipes,” she says.
Known for their signature sweet and sour green beans, it’s also the meat options that stand out. Meats such as pork loin, beef brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken are cooked daily by Chad and keep people coming back every meal.
“We couldn’t have done catering if Chad hadn’t been cooking meats for us part time,” she said. “We decided he needed to come join the family full time cooking.”
Chad, who had been working in the sawmill industry, decided after long days on the road as a salesman and with a slumping economy, that transitioning to the family business was the right decision.
“I’ve always been cooking,” said Chad. “I used to enter cooking competitions in high school and I won the state competition a couple of times.”
Keeping the menu small, Chad believes, is one of Cosmopolitan Café’s secrets to success.
“We don’t try to go out and do a lot of things. We concentrate on the small things and try to keep the whole menu good,” Chad said. “We stand behind our product. We’re trying to make it better everyday.”
The catering business currently averages about 50 catering jobs a month, in addition to putting out dozens of plate lunches Tuesday through Friday. There isn’t a huge staff behind the magic, either, but the Chester family, with the help of Tre and “Main Main,” make sure everything runs smoothly.
“With the café, we usually stick to the same style menu each day (meat plus two sides), but with catering you can really expand and explore your options,” said Macy. “There’s nothing we can’t do,” interjected Chad. “If we never have, we’ll try. There’s not a food out there we don’t make.”
With so much going on, it’s easy to get burned out, Macy says, but you have to love it and keep going. “We’ve been doing this for a long time in our family so it’s in our blood. I don’t know that we could not do it,” she said. “Mom is semi-retired and she can’t sit long. She’ll come in sometimes to help and she gets sucked back in to it again.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about family, Macy says. From making customers feel at home to working along side family members, being together as a whole makes a difference.
“We get tired and we fuss at each other, but at the end of the day, we’re always family.”
Cosmopolitan Cafe is open Tuesday – Friday, 11-2pm.