Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:32 am
Most mornings Wajih Ali is at work by 6 a.m., chopping onions, breading and stuffing shrimp, making salads and generally doing anything else he can do to prep for the 12 hours his new restaurant is open.
Ali, one owners of Four Brothers Seafood and Southern Eatery, said the hours are paying off. As of Wednesday morning, he sold 600 pounds of shrimp. The restaurant had been open two days, filling the old Captain D’s space in front of Wal-Mart on South State Street.
So far, the only complaint he’s heard is the wait. Indeed, Tuesday the tables in the small restaurant were filled and a half dozen people waited near the register for their food and a few more waited in cars outside. But Ali said fresh food takes time, and he hopes people understand.
“People want preheated food, but that’s not going to taste as good as fresh,” he said. “All our food is cooked fresh, right when people order it. We don’t put anything under warmers, so that takes a bit of time and so you see lines.”
Ali began working on the restaurant a few months ago, refurbishing it and repairing the insides. He moved to Clarksdale from Louisiana, where his brothers own a few seafood restaurants scattered around that state, but with different names. Ali said he decided to open a restaurant in Clarksdale after a friend of his suggested the Delta town as a good location, lacking in seafood.
“I found out there was no seafood restaurant here,” he said. “I wanted to get something new into the community.”
Ali is looking to get a home in Clarksdale, although he said he hasn’t had much time to sleep, let alone go house hunting. His restaurant is open seven days a week, and although he has a staff of 18 people working the cash registers and the kitchen, good, dedicated help is hard to fine. In fact, Ali said he’s had trouble finding workers who will even show up regularly.
“I need some people who really want to learn customer service, and people who will show up,” he said. “I have people show up one day, work, and then they don’t show up the next day.”
But he is hopeful that he’ll get a dedicated staff in place soon and, maybe later this year, expand the restaurant to locations throughout the Delta.
“I’m looking in Southhaven,” Ali said. “I found a location there, but I have to get this location [in Clarksdale] finished first. I also found a location in Cleveland.”
Ali attributes the popularity of Four Brothers over the past few days to its newness.
“I think people want to try something new,” he said. “I’ve asked a lot of people and they’re all happy with the food.”
He apologizes for the wait, but he hopes people will feel like the wait is worth it.
Jesse Wright is a reporter for the Press Register and can be reached at 662-627-2201 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:32 am.