April 3, 2014 11:02:58 AM
Jean's Cafe, a little Cotton District restaurant in Starkville with a faithful following and cheese wontons capable of inspiring near-religious devotion, closed Saturday.
Located at 103 Rue du Grand Fromage, it was a place Mississippi State students frequented. One of them, apparently smitten with wontons, once dyed his mohawk green to match the color of the cafe's walls. Another remained a devoted customer after graduating and moving to Arizona. At least three marriage proposals are known to have occurred at the cafe's tables. And in 2013, when a Starkville newspaper held a "Best Of" promotion, Jean's Cafe was voted by readers as "The Best Chinese Food" restaurant in town.
Helen Ma ran the place. People called her "Mama Jean." Her inspired gift of gab was well-known. Famously, she swore her cheese wontons had the power to change a diner's life for the better.
Ma got emotional Tuesday talking about the decision to close Jean's Cafe. A disagreement with the landlord, she said, led to the closure. Ma said she will miss her customers the most. She made no promises about the future.
Columbus residents might recognize Helen Ma's name. She and her husband, Albert, operated The Golden Phoenix and Hong Kong Chinese restaurants for decades before moving to Starkville.
Jean's Cafe was open six years.
Back in Lowndes County, two Columbus-based information technology announced a merger this week.
Exceed Technologies and 3point Technologies have joined and will go by the Exceed moniker. The business has more than 40 employees, according to a press release Monday.
Exceed President Jeremy Bandre will remain in that position. The business will still be headquartered in Columbus but maintain offices in Tupelo and Jackson.
"This merger will ultimately provide our customer base with a wider range of IT-related products and services," Bandre said in a statement. "Our customers will immediately see new names and faces, with faster and more efficient service."
Bandre founded Exceed in 2001. Terry Shelton founded 3point in 1987. Shelton will serve as the new company's executive vice president. David Bradley will be chief technology officer.
Exceed, which offers hardware sales, cloud hosting and technical services, among other things, expects more than $5 million in gross annual sales, according to Bandre.
Maybe you've noticed some construction on Bluecutt Road, not far from the post office.
Kenny Wiegel, building department director with Columbus, says the 8,000 square foot structure will be the eventual home of a dialysis medical center. The city issued a construction permit to Homestretch Properties for the work on Dec. 4. The address is 3499 Bluecutt Rd.
Lastly, the Courtyard by Marriott being built near 18th Avenue North and Sixth Street North is slated to open for business April 15, according to J.J. Tabone, the hotel's general manager.
It will have 110 rooms and is four stories tall. Wiegel said the city has completed a final inspection on the second, third and fourth floors, and on Wednesday crews were inspecting the first floor. Wiegel said the only work that remains is cosmetic in nature.
The hotel will employ about 30 people, Tabone said.
Browning on Business is a weekly column that runs each Thursday. We want your input. Send items and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.
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