OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. — It’s one of the oldest restaurants on the Mississippi Coast, owned and run by an 82-year-old Jocelyn Mayfield. It’s called Jocelyn’s Restaurant.
Many consider it a staple on the Gulf Coast. It’s been open for almost 31 years and it even survived Hurricane Katrina.
Now, she has decided it’s time to start thinking about closing her doors.
“I have been cooking since I was 8 years old,” said Jocelyn Mayfield. “I was the oldest of eight children and my mom was pretty sickly during those times. So somebody had to feed them. I learned how to cook. I stood on an apple box and I cooked.”
Seventy-four years later, she’s still at it.
“I love it, I love to cook,” said Jocelyn.
Inside the bright pink building, on Friday and Saturday nights only, that love for cooking shows on the plates of those who dine there.
“There’s just no better place to get seafood,” said loyal costumer Joseph Smith
Smith has been coming to Jocelyn’s with his wife, Marilyn, almost every week for 27 years.
The food, especially the crabmeat, is what drew him in. But the experience is what keeps him and his wife coming back.
“Oh, love her to death, just love her to death,” said Smith.
At a neighboring table on a recent Saturday night, Barbara Lansdale couldn’t agree more.
“She has a special place in my heart,” said Lansdale.
“I thought it was the food, but my customers tell me it’s me. They said because I visit each table at night,” said Jocelyn. “I think everybody can tell you they know my life because if they ask me, I tell them about it.”
Perhaps it’s that close relationship with her customers that made the decision to close so tough on her.
“They mean a lot to me and I’m going to miss them,” said Jocelyn.
But, Jocelyn says it’s time.
“I’m getting older and I’ve never had a life outside of this restaurant,” said Jocelyn “And one day I’m going to write a book and let people know what it’s like to raise a family of six, educate them and try to run a restaurant,” said Jocelyn.
She started to think about closing two years ago after her husband, Harold, died. The two worked in the restaurants business together for more than 60 years, putting their kids through school.
It was 31 years ago she and her husband made the decision to open their own restaurant, and they did so in Harold’s grandparents’ old home.
“I first opened this one it was green,” said Jocelyn. “I said, ‘It’s got to be hot pink.”’
Years later, this small pink restaurant will close its doors. But, Jocelyn said it’s been a good run all because of her customers.
“I just want to thank them because, with their help, my kids were educated and they’ve stood by me,” said Jocelyn.
Whether it’s the color of the restaurant, the delicious crabmeat or the family feel, customers say it’s one of a kind.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever have another restaurant like hers,” said Smith.
Jocelyn said she plans on closing in December or early January.