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Tradition, elegance make...

Tradition, elegance make Weidmann’s worth the trip to Meridian

By: Susan Marquez - December 7, 2023

With Weidmann’s white tablecloths, exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and elegant mirrors, you’ll feel that you have been transported back to a more elegant time.

For a restaurant to be in business for ten, twenty, even thirty years is quite an achievement in our fickle environment. Imagine a restaurant that has been in business since 1870, and for the past 100 years in the same location. Just cross the 22nd Avenue bridge into downtown Meridian and look for the iconic neon sign that says Weidmann’s. 

Felix Weidmann was a Swiss immigrant who served as a chef on a transatlantic steamship. He opened a simple restaurant in the Union Hotel in 1870, with a counter and four stools. In 1923 the restaurant moved to its present location under the ownership of Henry Weidmann, grandson of the founder.

During the 1940s, ’50s and ‘60s, the restaurant garnered national recognition and became a mainstay for Meridian and surrounding communities. During those years, the restaurant was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, closing only for Christmas Day. In the 1960s the ownership of the restaurant was passed to Shorty McWilliams and his wife Gloria (Weidmann). Shorty was a football standout at Mississippi State and West Point, finishing twice in the top ten for the Heisman Trophy. In the 1980s, ownership was passed to Poo Chancellor and his wife Gloria (McWilliams).

A group of 54 investors purchased the building and restaurant in 1999, completely renovating the site. Weidmann’s reopened in 2000 under new ownership. In 2010, the restaurant closed briefly and was reopened by Charles Frazier, with the goal of providing outstanding and affordable Southern cuisine in an historic setting. Frazier remains the proprietor of the restaurant to this day. Molly Robin serves as the restaurant’s manager.

With its white tablecloths, exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and elegant mirrors, you’ll feel that you have been transported back to a more elegant time. The bar is located upstairs, and diners can enjoy eating outdoors on a balcony overlooking downtown. Weidmann’s also has a few private dining rooms upstairs, one of which is said to be haunted.

The menu at Weidmann’s is extensive. Many of the recipes of the original Weidmann’s have been revived as well as new classics which are enjoying local popularity. Daily specials are served up daily as well. From steaks and seafood to pasta and other dishes, it’s no joke that the restaurant serves something for everyone. There are plenty of dessert options as well, but this writer believes none are better than the black bottomed pie.

Weidmann’s has gained a good bit of notoriety over the years. The restaurant has been featured in many books, magazines, cookbooks, and television shows. Weidmann’s has a tradition of displaying a vast collection of photographs of celebrities, employees, and local guests. Original artwork by local artists is on display throughout the restaurant, most for sale, with 100% of the sales price going to the artist.

Another Weidmann tradition is the famous peanut butter crocks. Each table at Weidmann’s is set with a handmade peanut butter crock and an assortment of crackers.  This tradition dates back to the 1940s, when legend has it there was a shortage of butter during World War II. 

A guest mentioned to Henry Weidmann that peanut butter would be a good replacement to accompany the crackers. Henry embraced the concept and eventually found a potter in Louisville, Mississippi to make the crocks. Now the crocks are hand made by a local potter in Meridian. If you’d like to take one home, there are crocks available for sale. Just ask your server.

About the Author(s)
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Susan Marquez

Susan Marquez serves as Magnolia Tribune's Culture Editor. Since 2001, Susan Marquez has been writing about people, places, spaces, events, music, businesses, food, and travel. The things that make life interesting. A prolific writer, Susan has written over 3,000 pieces for a wide variety of publications.