Doe's Eat Place is a Delta legend. Dominic "Big Doe" Signa started the place in 1941, in a white plank building that had been his father's grocery store. What once was a juke joint is now a landmark restaurant, and you could find three generations of Signas working there on any given night.
When you walk in the front door, you'll be standing by the steak pit. And when you request a table, you'll be politely asked to "go talk to Aunt Florence or Shug."
They are the keepers of the tattered spiral notebook that is Doe's reservations database. When we visited, Aunt Florence was there, and she's just about the sweetest woman on earth. I asked her what comes to mind first when she thinks of The Delta. She responded, "Well, first of all, the river. And the beautiful scenery. (A big grin here) And of course I’m always looking for good places to eat!"
The Signas now have 10 franchises of Doe's, with family members running the original restaurant in Greenville, Mississippi, as well as one in Paducah, Kentucky. They also have rubs and sauces sold in specialty food companies in the mid-South.
Though Doe's is growing into a brand, there's still something special about the unpretentious little Greenville restaurant where it began. Maybe that's because Aunt Florence is there. "Now, I don't work every night," she explains. "I only work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday--and Monday and Tuesday if they need me--and we're closed on Sunday."
Aunt Florence, you'd better check that work schedule again. Tell those Signa kids you need a vacation!