When Darius Knox was looking for a cook to help launch his dream for a southern soul food restaurant in Mankato, he found not only a professional chef in Amy Boyd, but a kindred enthusiast of southern food.
“I was born in Memphis and was in the kitchen with my mom and grandma since I was 9,” Boyd said. “I learned their secrets in the recipes.”
And the secrets? “Lots of love,” Boyd said.
Knox just opened Daisy’s Soul Food & Buffet in the former Hazzard’s location at 410 S. Front St.
“I grew up on this food,” said Knox, a Chicago native who named the restaurant after his mom.
“In this town, with the college, there are a lot of people who grew up down South on this food.”
The menu includes staples such as fried chicken, country fried steak, collard greens, fried green tomatoes and okra, hot water corn bread and black-eyed peas.
“And there’s homemade mashed potatoes with secret gravy,” Knox said.
Knox will have occasional buffets, such as the one this Friday featuring catfish and spaghetti. He doesn’t yet have a liquor license.
Knox is a 2011 law enforcement graduate of MSU, who was unable to pursue a law enforcement career after being injured when he was hit by a vehicle while walking.
He’s instead taken a entrepreneurial track, opening Blue Earth Taxi and recently opened another business — Kato Mascot and Kids — where people can hire someone to come to parties dressed in Disney or other character costumes.
With no restaurant experience, Knox said he made sure he put knowledgeable people around him.
“I hired people with experience. I got a great team to help me.”
Boyd, a culinary program graduate from South Central College, said she received great training from now retired teacher Jim Hanson and picked up more real-life experience with her catering business, Amy’s Kitchen.
“I have a line of pies, cakes, breads. And I do private chef work in people’s homes for parties,” Boyd said.
Daisy’s Soul Food & Buffet is open 11-3 and 6-9 each day; daisysbuffet.com; phone 388-9987.