Bringing Southern Hospitality To Mid-Missouri

Screen-shot-2011-12-13-at-10.40.14-AMThe black and white tile floors illuminated by rows of pendant lighting invite customers to the front, where they are greeted with a smile. A picture of Francis Quadrangle stretches from the floor to the ceiling, and pictures of Columbia adorn the walls.

Since December 2007, McAlister’s Deli has been winning over the stomachs of Columbia residents.

“We have a lot of regular customers,” says General Manager Matt McAlister, whose last name is just a coincidence. “We become friends with them, talk to them, know their orders and know what they like to do. [The restaurant has] a local feel.”

Though the franchise is based in Oxford, Miss., the flavors of the South have made their way to central Missouri, bringing a feeling of home to its customers at 1205 Grindstone Parkway.

“When we first started coming to McAlister’s, we really liked the kids’ meals for our sons,” says Christie Wooderson, a self-proclaimed frequent customer. “We felt like they were getting good nutrition.”

Sweet tea and giant spuds are among the menu choices that bring fame to McAlister’s. The Orange Cranberry Club, the Savannah Chopped Salad and Chicken Tortilla soup also satisfy customers daily.

“We have a huge menu,” McAlister says. “You’re going to find something you like here. The hard part is choosing what to get.”

But just like any Columbia resident, McAlister’s knows a true community member gives back. The deli hosts fundraising events for organizations such as the Rock Bridge High School Jazz Band and Grace Bible Church.

The groups take over McAlister’s from 5 to 9 p.m. on fundraising nights and receive 10 percent of all sales and 100 percent of the tips. “We’ve had some really fun ones,” McAlister says. “The Rock Bridge jazz combo has come twice and set up to play live music.”

Supporting such events is not the only way McAlister’s blends into the Columbia community. The deli hosts entertaining competitions such as Tuesday Trivia and Catch the Catering Van, awarding winners with free cookies and VIP cards for free meals.

“The idea is to take a picture of the catering van anywhere in town, post it on Facebook and tag McAlister’s Deli,” McAlister says. “Then you get a free VIP card.”

While community involvement is important to McAlister’s, the goal of the deli is still the comfort of its customers.

And the customers notice.

“The people that work here make it pleasant,” Wooderson says. “I like their friendliness and attention to detail.”

Check out the menu, the latest contests, fundraisers and gift cards