Thursday’s special at the Cosmic Deli and Cheesecakes inside Sawmill Square Mall featured blackened redfish tacos with a homemade jalapeño cilantro lime sauce.
Like most of the offerings at the deli, owner and chef Mitchell Brashier said the dish “was out of this world.”
And that is what led to not only the name of the deli, but the throngs of loyal customers the business has attracted since its opening in March.
“I have always like sci-fi — movies and on TV — and one day I was working on the logo and my wife (Emily) said, ‘our food is out of this world,’” Mitchell said Thursday, a few minutes before the deli’s opening.
Located in a space that once housed a camera store, Mitchell said he first was looking to open a kiosk at the mall to sell his wife’s cheesecakes while he made plans to open a restaurant. He met with mall manager Bill McMullen, who told him of the vacant storefront. That happened in December, and in four months, the husband-and-wife team, who have nine employees including night manager Jessica Lee, the deli opened.
Using fresh seafood and bread shipped in from New Orleans, the restaurant specializes in tacos, wraps and po-boys — things that can easily be eaten by hand. All of the sauces and seasonings are made in-house.
And all of this from someone with no professional cooking experience.
Growing up in Wayne County, a few miles from the Jones County line, Mitchell said he always ate well, thanks to his mother’s skills in the kitchen and his grandparents’ seafood restaurants in Covington County and then on the Gulf Coast.
He met Emily, a Laurel native and graduate of R.H. Watkins High School, and quickly found out both had a talent for cooking — he the chef and she the baker. Her cheesecake, which Mitchell said is her own recipe that is closely guarded, has received rave reviews long before it was featured at the deli.
Mitchell spent 17 years working in the oil industry, but eventually got sick of it.
“I said, ‘If I don’t do it now, I may never do it.’ So we just jumped off the diving board,” he said.
He said there is a steady group of regular customers, most from the medical facilities in the area around the mall, and other professionals from downtown. But he also said the word is getting out about the eatery and the smells that permeate the hallways of the mall have attracted quite a bit of foot traffic.
“People started clamoring for a place to eat after church, so we decided to open on Sundays,” said Mitchell, whose deli is open seven days per week.
The menu has staples, but Mitchell is quick to talk to his customers to find out what they desire.
“We are not afraid to try something unique,” he said.
Cosmic Deli and Cheesecakes is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The phone number is 601-342-8222 and they can also be found on Facebook.