Kathryn's On Moon Lake
5770 Moon Lake Road
Dundee, MS 38626
The story of Kathryn’s restaurant begins as many American success stories do. Two young immigrants, one from Italy, one from Ireland, marry and search for the American dream. They settle on the banks of beautiful Moon Lake Mississippi. Moon Lake was quite the tourist draw in the early to mid 20th century and Frank and Kathryn Rossi set out to capitalize on that. In 1937 they opened a small cafe in their house offering authentic Italian cuisine made from the Rossi family recipes that had been handed down for generations. The world famous onion ring and salad recipe used today, are the same recipe the Rossi’s used in 1937.
In addition to the cuisine, Kathryn’s was also famous for something else. Kathryn’s membership policy. The front door was always locked but had a small sliding window. A patron would come to the front door and knock. If Kathryn knew you, or you were sent by someone she knew, you might be allowed in. If she didn’t know you or didn’t like the way you were dressed, you were told, “we’re booked up.” Giles Coors of Memphis tells a story of how he and and some friends from Vandy had been skiing on Moon Lake and decided to come off the lake and go to Kathryn’s for a sandwich. They rang the doorbell, Kathryn slid the inspection window open, looked them over in cutoff jeans and t-shirts and promptly said, “we’re all booked,” and slid the window closed. Giles rang again, Kathryn opened the window and Giles said, “but Sophie Coors is my mother!” Kathryn simply said,”we’re all booked up.” As she shut the window, Giles exclaimed,”but they’re no cars in the parking lot!” It is also worth noting that the state of Mississippi was “dry” at that time, meaning no alcohol was legal anywhere. This probably attributed to the closed door policy.
In 2010, local musician John Mohead, was looking for his next adventure. Kathryn’s had been closed for two years and had been through several ownerships which hadn’t worked out. John’s spouse Jenn told him, “you’re crazy,” which she had said to him many times before. He promised if it didn’t work out they could tear it down and build condo’s. The building hadn’t changed in 70 years. The same knotty pine paneling. The same uneven floors. The same tiny bathrooms. John brought in Natalie McCollum to manage it. And with John manning the kitchen, Natalie handling the dining room, and Jenn promoting, it has now come full circle to world famous status 80 years later. We think Kathryn and Frank would approve.