Good food does a lot of things: it nourishes, it brings joy and it brings people together. In the case of Brunzeez Café in Ava, it also serves as a catalyst for other businesses.
Twenty years ago, when Kathy Bruns opened Brunzeez Café in the Jackson County community, her goals were to change careers after 15 years of factory work and provide good food for her family and neighbors. . But in addition to feeding and bringing people together, her restaurant has helped spark a revival in downtown Ava.
“When we started, we wanted to bring something back to Ava,” she said, listing a list of new businesses that have come to the area in the two decades since Brunzeez Café opened, bringing people downtown.
They also come to the cafe. Regulars stop there almost daily, sometimes even several times a day. They come for a wide variety of offerings on the regular menu as well as weekly specials, desserts and fried mushrooms.
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“We are best known for our homemade desserts and our mushrooms. When someone walks in, they almost always want the mushrooms. We go through nearly 80 pounds in a week,” Bruns said.
The desserts are very popular. Bruns said, starting with her “staple,” coconut cream pie.
“It’s made from scratch and I don’t even know how many we go through in a week; I would bet we make at least 40 desserts a week,” she said. “We bake baked cheesecakes, lemon meringue pie, banana pie, chocolate pie and more, all from scratch.”
The desserts are available in a variety of serving sizes, many of which perfectly complement most large orders that have become a staple for feeding families, reunions and gatherings ranging from church gatherings to weddings. For these events, Brunzeez’s friend chicken is frequently on the menu.
“You can order an individual piece or 200 pieces, whatever you want,” Bruns explained.
Hand-patted burgers are also on the cafe’s menu, as are a variety of Mexican dishes, including several types of nachos, weekend steaks, and what Bruns called “home southern cooking.”
“I think it’s the food and the great service that keeps people coming back,” she added. “Back to Brunzeez and back to Ava,” she said.