The restaurant business is a personal business – people serving people – and when you choose to dine locally, you are helping boost the local economy.

The meal you ordered could be helping to beautify an area of the community through the taxes generated. The person taking your order could be the owner and they want to ensure you have a great experience because by choosing their establishment, you are helping them pay their employees. This week take a moment to get to know some of the good folks who prepare and serve us some of our favorite foods.

Let’s find out why they enjoy working in Corinth and Alcorn County.

Meet Buck Walden, owner of Buck’s BBQ & Burgers located on Fillmore Street. When asked why he chooses to open a restaurant in Corinth, Buck simply said, “It’s home.” A 1986 graduate of Corinth High School, Buck said he always wanted to own a restaurant in Corinth.

Walden went on to say, “That’s been the coolest part - being back with the people you grew up with and enjoying what you do. It’s gratifying to see people enjoying your ideas, your food, the design of the restaurant, and how you treat people. It’s humbling when people tell you that they are glad you’re back in Corinth and that they enjoy the restaurant.”

Meet Nancy Southern, an employee at Max’s Donut Shop on Shiloh Road. A resident of Tennessee and a graduate of Bethel University, Nancy says she enjoys working in Corinth, “The area is growing and it’s a friendly place to work. The owners are friendly and like to help the community and this job has helped me make friends in the area.”

Nancy went on to say, “There will always be a need for people to eat so working in the food industry makes for a great employment choice.”

Meet Michael Wyatt, who is originally from Florida and now manager at Vicari located on Cruise Street. When asked what he enjoys most about working in the foodservice industry, Michael said, “Food! Anyone who knows me knows I love to eat. I love the food industry and love enhancing my pallet by trying new things and flavors. The food industry is forever evolving and there is always something new and fun to try.”

As for working in Alcorn County, Michael shared, “This community has truly some of the best people in the world. I wouldn't want to work anywhere else.”

Meet Stephanie Hutson and Sircharles Coffey, two new managers at Pizza Grocery which is also located on Cruise Street. About her job, Stephanie, who was born in Hawaii, said, “I believe people can bond over food and a good cup of coffee. I make it a priority to get to know all the customers I meet. I love going to work and wondering who I’m going to meet next.” Sircharles, who started working at Pizza Grocery while he was still in high school, commented, “Our guests range from my old peers to new visitors of our beautiful town and my hope is that they collectively feel a special type of comfort here that encourages them to return! This is a great city to live and serve in.”

Meet Russell Smith, owner of Russell’s SMITH Steak House on Fillmore Street and owner of Russell’s Beef House on Highway 72, along with his wife, Julia. When asked what he enjoys most about owning two restaurants in Alcorn County, Russell said, “The community is great and really gets behind its own people. I was born and raised here and always knew I was coming back here. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned over the years and to be able to bring that to the people I’ve grown up with.”

So, what does he enjoy most about being in the food service industry? “Making somebody happy with the food I’ve prepared for them.”

Meet Mike Burgess, Regional General Manager for Taco Bell located on Cass Street. For Mike and his family, there’s no place like home. He is a graduate of Corinth High School and his wife, Katriena, is a graduate of Alcorn Central High School. “Working in Corinth has given us a chance to move back closer to our families,” Mike said. He got his start over 30 years ago working in maintenance at McDonald’s and that’s what got him hooked to the foodservice industry, “It’s a fast-paced environment and no day is ever the same.”

As for working in Alcorn County, Mike said, “Working in small towns gives you a chance to get to know your customers and their families. You cry when they cry and you smile when they smile.”

To support local dining and member restaurants, The Alliance is running a Show Local Some Love contest where every Monday until December 21 there will be a drawing to give away a $100 gift card. To enter the drawing, spend $20 or more at an Alliance member restaurant, drop off (502 Wick Street) or email ( your receipt to The Alliance. The winner will get to select any Alliance member business from which to receive the $100 gift card. To view a list of Alliance member restaurants and all members, please visit The more places where you spend, the chances you have to win.

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