Nosser channels love of family, Vicksburg into Rowdy’s success

Published 7:26 pm Friday, May 5, 2017

When Rowdy Nosser greets a customer at his Vicksburg restaurant, he knows he’s representing more than just himself.

Nosser is the keeper of an important legacy. With every hand he shakes, he knows he’s continuing a family tradition that goes back 100 years.

Nosser traces his roots in business serving Vicksburg residents back to 1917, when his family opened a store in what is today’s King’s community.

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In 1988, when he started Rowdy’s Family Restaurant, 60 Mississippi Highway 27, he began the third generation of his family in the restaurant business here.

The walls of Rowdy’s house nothing less than a museum of photos and documents that celebrate Vicksburg and Warren County and the Nosser family’s involvement in the community.

“I was so fortunate to have had so many stellar work ethics presented to me,” Nosser said, explaining he began work at about age 10 in his family’s grocery store at a time “when it was cool to get up and go to work with my father.”

Nosser worked in the deli, bakery and produce departments, among others.

“I learned food costs and how to work the percentages in my head,” he said.

One of his favorite memories is getting up early and going with his father, Pete Nosser Jr., to The Glass Kitchen, a family restaurant, for breakfast.

“All of the milk truck drivers and bread truck drivers would meet there between four and five in the morning and have breakfast before they went to load their trucks and start their routes,” Nosser recalls.

His work in the family’s Jitney Jungle store continued until he reached his teenage years, when going to work with his dad didn’t seem so cool.

After high school, Rowdy attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he also played some football.

“When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a coach,” Nosser said. However, after a conversation with his father, he knew he needed to come home and help him in the family business.

Nosser’s family is everywhere at Rowdy’s, including on the menu, where many of the recipes were developed by his family, like his mother, Quida Nosser’s Mississippi Mud Pie.

“My grandmother made those and her mother made them, too. We really think that recipe may go back to just after the Civil War in Vicksburg,” he said.

Another family favorite is the Johnny’s Sauce, developed by his uncle, Johnny Nosser.

“I would describe it as a combination of thousand island and remoulade. People eat it on everything — seafood, salads, even crackers. That’s how people ate it at The Glass Kitchen, on crackers,” Nosser said. “I sell out of it out front as fast as I can make it.”

Rowdy’s customers also like their Johnny’s Sauce on batter fries.

“The batter fries are soaked in a milk wash and we use a special flour,” he said.

And the batter fries go well with the Rowdy Burger, another customer favorite.

Another family recipe can be found on the breading of Rowdy’s famous fried catfish, voted best catfish in Vicksburg for the last 20 years.

“It takes the right product, the right oil, the right seasoning…all that has to come together,” he said.

What makes a successful restaurant? It’s a combination of good food, good service at good prices.

“Operating a restaurant is the ultimate team business,” Nosser said. “I have been so fortunate to work alongside so many good people who have helped me make a living. I spend as much time with these people as I do with my family and I love them like family. I have been the recipient of many blessings.”

The work Nosser and his crew do at Rowdy’s and in the community was recognized this year when Rowdy’s won the Small Business of the Year award from the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce.

“That was completely unexpected. I had no idea that was going to happen,” Nosser said.

Nosser said he can think of no better place to be doing business right now than in the Vicksburg community.

Vicksburg is on the cusp of something special, he said.

“There are so many good things happening in Vicksburg right now. We are so close to busting this thing wide open,” Nosser said.

“With the waterfront and downtown and the Vicksburg National Military Park and the talk of opening the Old Bridge to foot traffic, it’s all about tourism and those are things that attract tourists,” he said.

“It goes back to the people in this community. We really don’t have any issues here. And we have good people in leadership positions. Vicksburg is a great place to be.”