The Cup & Saucer is a local market and cafe that has contributed to the hospitality industry in Auburn for over 18 years under the leadership of local chef, Lisa French. The Cup & Saucer has catered University events, served meals to Auburn students and provided a local taste to the community.
Looking ahead, The Cup & Saucer is entering a new season of service as French has recently sold the business to Jennifer “Birdie” Jones, a native to the United Kingdom but a local of Auburn.
Jones has owned The Cup & Saucer for just over five weeks now, although she has called Auburn home for over fifteen years.
“My body was born in England, but my heart was born in Alabama,” Jones said. “I came in and I fell in love with the place. It has been crazy, but I have loved every minute of it. Food is my love language, so I am completely fulfilled.”
Jones described different avenues she is hoping to bring into the business, such as various new dishes, an expanded delivery service that will cater to the needs of different audiences in the community and an annual Christmas dinner for those in need of a meal or wanting to share the holiday with others.
“I am not subtracting from anything, I am only adding,” Jones said.
The popular dishes such as poppyseed chicken, chicken salad and the classic bread will remain, but Jones has added a shepherd’s pie, an apple bread and butter pudding and a chocolate crunch bread.
Jones said she is especially hoping to use The Cup & Saucer to serve the elderly community in Auburn through more personable deliveries and intentional outreach to make sure they are being served nourishing meals and interacting with the staff.
“I think that an underserved part of our community is the elderly that can’t get out, and I think we really missed, especially with COVID, the whole connection thing like connecting with people, talking to people, saying hello,” Jones said. "And so delivery is not going to be a knock on the door and runaway, but you'll get used to one or two drivers, and you'll know their names.”
Jones said her desire is that families and friends will be able to call in to The Cup & Saucer and ask for a meal to be delivered to their elderly parents or friends in Auburn. Jones also has a goal to serve Auburn students by offering the same structure where parents can call The Cup & Saucer, and a meal will be delivered to the student.
“Let me be mom and provide the taste of home," Jones said.
The Cup & Saucer has also implemented global deliveries, where they deliver meals to international students. Ann Price Bishop, senior in culinary science, is an employee of The Cup & Saucer, and she noted that delivering these meals to international students has been a special part of her time working for the market.
Specifically for the holiday season, Jones personal story speaks to her passion for uniting lonely people and making sure that everyone has a place to go or a meal to eat on Christmas. This past Christmas, Jones experienced the holiday alone in the midst of a divorce and her move back to the Auburn area from Arkansas.
“‘I’ll never do that again,’ I told myself. Every Christmas I will invite a lonely person to eat with me," Jones said.
This upcoming year, anybody can participate in “Birdie’s Christmas Dinner.”
“I can cook a massive Christmas dinner and we’ll sit and eat,” Jones said. “or I’ll just pack up all my dinners and spend the entire day driving round town, knocking on the doors of people who live on their own, and just say Merry Christmas to them.”
Lady Frances Hamilton, senior in public relations, discussed how Jones’s story emanates encouragement and inspiration.
“Birdie is truly an inspiration to me," Hamilton said. "I think she is the perfect picture of what it means to be resilient even when life is challenging and when you are put in nonideal circumstances, to bounce back.”
Hamilton is part of a public relations campaign class at Auburn that has partnered with The Cup & Saucer for the upcoming semester. Jones has agreed to work with the students while they perform a semester-long strategic analysis on the business.
“We're really excited to help Birdie achieve her goals specifically through helping her brianstorm and think through advertising, and I think the bigger piece is helping generate new customers,” Hamilton said.
“She has such a phenomenal base, but there are a lot of untapped market audiences that we are so excited to develop some tactics to be able to contact these other groups," Hamilton said.
As students and Jones work to achieve these different goals, the rudimentary vision of serving the community remains on the forefront of their minds.
“I just want to serve the community really, that’s my whole thing,” Jones said. “I can't think of anything more amazing of a legacy to leave behind.”
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