Where The Food At? Local business owner has new answer

Shantita 'Shan' Suber-Odom opened Where The Food At on Oct. 15, 2015 catering a diverse flavor of food to the younger population of Starkville.

Briana Rucker
Staff Writer

Shantita 'Shan' Suber-Odom opened Where The Food At on Oct. 15, 2015 catering a diverse flavor of food to the younger population of Starkville.

But she recently re-opened at a new location on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.

"We were the best kept secret and still have been except for now," Suber-Odom said.

Suber-Odom is from Greenville, Mississippi and graduated from the Mississippi University for Women in 2010 with a bachelors degree in business. She later earned her masters degree in business from Columbia Southern University.

During her time at The W, she met her husband Reginald Odom who played football at MSU.

"Back in the Mississippi State days the defensive line would come to my apartment and eat because they didn't really like the food they were served," Suber-Odom said.

"People would say that I have an old soul and I cook like somebody's grandma," she added.

She and her husband moved to his home state, Florida, in 2011. She received so many compliments and questions about the meals that she posted on Facebook that she wrote a cookbook named Newlywed Cooking.

Next, she began Entreepreneur Catering.

"This was always an obsession, like I love food so I kind of turned my obsession into my profession," she said.

After her catering company, she created a line of spices and seasonings.

She then branched to opening Where The Food At after she returned to Mississippi in 2015. But she was careful when choosing the name of the restaurant because she didn't want anyone to categorize the business to serving one type of food.

It needed its own appealing identity.

"I didn't want to marginalize my restaurant to be a certain thing. I didn't want it to be a seafood restaurant, or a barbecue restaurant. I didn't want to call it any of that," she stated. "The menu is diverse. It's Where the Food At!"

Suber-Odom said the name fell from the sky one day because when you're ready to eat, you're ready to eat.

"I wanted to call it Where the Food At because when you're hungry that's the first thing you're looking for. You really don't care about certain specifics," she added.

Her menu is described as where seafood meets soul food.

"With the two cultures combining, living in Florida those five years taught me a lot about seafood, Caribbean food and things like that I never knew nothing about," Suber-Odom said.

"I'm from Mississippi where we serve a lot soul food and comfort food and that's something Florida didn't do a lot of."

She and her husband were able to combine their gifts of cooking to create a restaurant with its own atmosphere and personality.

"He's like the muscle of everything. I'm the chef, he's a very good cook too though," she added.
"Basically he's my backbone whenever I need him to be."

Her business mentality also encouraged her to purchase a food truck and build it the way that she wanted.

She said the food truck has kept her alive because when sales are down at the restaurant, she can simply pick up and set up somewhere else.

Suber-Odom’s menu is diverse as she mentioned, as a lot of things on it are original and signature.

"A lot of the creativity part of it came from me just trying stuff. I use the phrase a lot 'A lot of this came about when I got pregnant with my child!,'" she said.

Her pregnancy cravings inspired WTF's unique flavor.

The mystery drink is a customer favorite on the menu. Customers never know what it is or what color the drink will be.

"I have people buying like about a gallon of it. It's indescribable and it's very pretty. A lot of people just love it," Shan stated.

Other favorites include the crab legs, the power plates, various pastas and shrimp and grits.

"Man, it's like I can't take anything off the menu because everything sells. In three years I've tried to minimize it but I can't do it," she said.

Suber-Odom reminisced about her previous WTF locations.

"When I moved to the gas station it could only sit 16 people. I've had all 16 seats filled, people standing around and out the door and sitting on their cars," Shan said.

"We have a dish called the trash pot that I do on Sundays and that is the one thing that made me go viral."

One video of her signature trash pot has reached over 40,000 views. The trash pot consists of neck bones, turkey necks, corn, potatoes, sausage and you can add seafood.

Customers also love her sign-in wall, filled with signatures from their visits to WTF.

"I wanted to create a place where you could be yourself. You don't have to dress a certain way or act or have a perception of how you're supposed to be other than your manners. I just wanted something that could be appealing to everyone," Suber-Odom said.

"Everyone from all walks of life. Everyone can be comfortable here," she added.

Suber-Odom lives by the Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11. She says she trusted God's plans and went where He guided her.

Ultimately Suber-Odom’s dream is to open up on many HBCU campuses. However that's not all.

"My vision for WTF is that I want to be the Dollar General of restaurants. I don't want to put my restaurants in big cities. I want to put my restaurants in cities where they have a nice substantial amount of people and money but they don't have anywhere to eat," Suber-Odom said.

"I stayed down until I came up"