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Mizz Ju Ju's Cafe's food is OK but 43-minute wait at this Huntsville restaurant isn't (photos)

-- We could have listened to the entire Michael Jackson album "Thriller" during the time we waited for our order at Mizz Ju Ju's Caf . Unfortunately, there was no "Billie Jean" or "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" in the air, only hunger-strained conversation.

The 43-minute wait was made worse in that we were the only customers in the place when we arrived on a recent Friday around noon, but proceeded to watch as the orders of four customers that came in after us were prepared and served first.

Yes, there was only one employee handing things at Mizz Ju Ju's, a Jordan Avenue soul-food takeout joint that opened in September across from Bankston Motor Homes. I did overhear that employee - who was totally pleasant although he failed to alert us at any point we'd be facing a massive wait - mention another employee had called in sick.

But the fact is, you need a certain amount of resources to operate a restaurant. And having enough employees to provide at least somewhat timely service to a small lunch crowd is one of them.

Customers will tolerate a clock-melting wait if the food rocks. (Austin, Texas' Franklin Barbecue, for example.) But too much of Mizz Ju Ju's fare we tried, with a couple of exceptions, was average.

The four Fried Chicken Tenders (.50 with two sides and drink) looked appetizing but had no discernible seasoning and were a little overcooked. The green beans were the standard, flat, out-of-a-can variety. The fried corn, a side whose sweet taste and mushy texture was much closer to creamed corn than we expected (although there was the occasional touch of crispiness in there), grew on us.

Mizz Ju Ju's normally offers four beverage choices: Bubba's Sweet Tea, Peach Lemonade, Pineapple Lemonade and bottled water. But they were out of sweet tea when we visited. The flavored lemonades were actually pretty good. The pineapple was smoother than you'd expect, given that fruit's spiky natural flavor, and the peach was just sweet enough and surprisingly refreshing and a splash of bourbon in there would make for a nifty tailgating libation.

I ordered the Fried Catfish ( with two sides and drink). The filet was sizable and fresh tasting no fishy "skunk" at all. Funky, crunchy, homespun breading. Again, not much seasoning with a dash of peppery zip, this dish could rule. The "4 Cheeze Mac" was pretty awesome though. Creamy. Dreamy. Downhome yet sophisticated the culinary equivalent of Charles Barkley wearing Georgio Armani.

We also ordered the 10" Polish Sausage (). Solid, smoky flavor, and as the dish's name promised, a sizable portion, served open-faced over a slice of barbecue bread.

The half-dozen Oven Roasted Wings (.50 with two sides and drink) were cooked fine and looked like they might pack some kick, but, like the Chicken Tenders, turned out to be pretty bland.

An industrial-sized mixer in Mizz Ju Ju's kitchen is visible from the waiting room, which can't be called a dining room yet because there's pretty much only two benches and a shelf with to-go containers out there. There's not even a trashcan.The skullcap-wearing employee indicated tables and chairs and a beer-and-wine license were in the cards, though.

The mixer seemed like a hint the"fresh baked features," touted on one of the two blackboards beside the order window, might be righteous.We were psyched about trying the Gooey Butter Cake () but, alas, that dessert was 86-ed an hour after opening. We went with a couple orders of Peach Cobbler () instead. Good stuff. Lots of zing from the visible flecks of cinnamon, and the fruit, crust, doughy bits and ectoplasmic-like syrup combined for some compelling, complex flavors.

If everything on our plates would have been as happening as the 4 Cheeze Mac and Peach Cobbler, our colossal wait would've stung less. Remember, this is a take-out place, so we still had to drive somewhere before we could eat our food.

Mizz Ju Ju's does have some potential - especially if they get more aggressive with seasoning on their non-baked items. But while one employee may be enough to run a food truck or even a small catering operation, it's not enough to run a restaurant. Even if all the orders are to-go.

Mizz Ju Ju's Caf
2022 Jordan Lane N.W. Ste. B
Wednesday Friday, Sunday: 11 a.m. 5 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. 4 p.m.

Recommendations: Fried Catfish, 4 Cheeze Mac, Peach Cobbler
Suggestions: For the love of God, call in your order.
Alcohol: Not yet.
Ambience: Take-out joint, no tables.
Service: Pleasant, but severely undermanned.
Vegetarian-friendly: Not overtly.
Price range: Most items - .

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