2018-19 Annual Report

USMCBE

The 2018-19 Annual Report, published by the College of Business and Economic Development at The University of Southern Mississippi, tells stories of outstanding achievements made by our faculty, students, staff, donors, and alumni over the course of the academic year.

SERVING LOVE

ON A PLATE

LOVE. NOURISH. INSPIRE.

This is the vision alumna Katie Dixon has for her restaurant,

Birdhouse Café in Hattiesburg. Miss. Dixon, a 2005 graduate from our

BSBA Marketing program, desires to serve nutrient-rich food to the South. She

does so through her diverse and healthy menu.

When entering her restaurant, it is far from a

traditional dining experience. Instead, it feels as

though you are walking right into a home. The

“kitchen” is actually an island in the center of the

room with fresh tea brewing on the stovetop. “We

want to show people it is not as complicated as

people make it, that healthy eating can be easy

and fun,” said Katie as we explored the layout of

her restaurant. Each meal is cooked to order right

in front of the guests’ eyes.

Katie’s passions are far greater than just adding nutritional value to food. In addition, she wants

to add value in the lives of those around her. She has personal relationships with each of her

seven employees, five of which are Southern Miss students or alumni. “I want to know what

their vision is, where they want to see themselves in a year,” Katie said thoughtfully.

She invests in her employees, empowering them to be creative within the business. She

encouraged her restaurant manager, Lydia, to use her talent for design and art. “I asked her,

while you are here, what can we do to make your work environment more fun? You’re creative,

and you are not getting to use that talent. This summer, she will sew aprons, and we will use all

of our excess fruits and vegetables, like avocado cores and strawberries, to naturally tie-dye

the aprons to give to children while we teach them a cooking class.” She also encouraged her

former head chef, who had dreams of traveling, to accept a position as a chef in New York City.

Katie’s love for food was inspired by her grandmother. “My grandmother and grandfather had a

farmhouse with chickens and cows and a fresh vegetable garden. My grandmother cooked every

day for a large family. On the weekends, my family and I spent a lot of time at the farm. I learned

from my grandmother. Both of our hearts wanted to serve love on a plate, food for the soul. I can

still vividly see the flour on my grandmother’s hands as she was making fresh biscuits.”

I TELL PEOPLE ALL THE TIME THAT WE ARE SOME OF THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE

WORLD LIVING IN MISSISSIPPI, WITH ALL OF THE FARM LAND WE HAVE. WE HAVE

SOME OF THE FRESHEST AND BEST PRODUCE RIGHT HERE AT OUR DOORSTEP.”

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