If you’ve ever eaten a beignet, a deep-fried pastry covered in confectioners sugar, then chances are you probably thought it was divinely inspired. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying one, the description alone should have you agreeing.
If you happened to think that while trying a beignet from Mo’Bay Beignet Co. at 451 Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile, then you would be right, according to owner Jaclyn Robinson. She credits divine inspiration for the launch of Mo’Bay Beignet Co. in February 2020.
“I was making my cinnamon syrup in my kitchen one night about 6 years ago, and I thought, ‘I bet this would be good with my beignets,’ and then the name Mo’Bay Beignet Co. dropped in my mind out of nowhere. I wasn’t brainstorming; I wasn’t thinking about a beignet business, never had a plan or desire to do anything with my recipe. For the next 5 years, the name would come to me again out of the blue,” Jaclyn explains. “In May 2019, I was walking to my mailbox, and I heard the word ‘Now’ just like I had heard Mo’Bay Beignet Co. It was the same in how it was an ‘injected thought.’ That’s the only way to describe it really. Well, I like to call it a download from Heaven.”
She then felt called to begin selling her packaged beignet mix and signature syrups straight from her kitchen as a way to help fund her daughter’s college expenses. The demand grew to the point it was being sold in multiple stores, and she came to a crossroads on how to continue the business, ready to “throw in the towel” when she crunched the numbers and they weren’t adding up the way she had hoped.
Thinking about the numbers not adding up jogged her memory about of a couple who prayed for her months prior to the start of her business venture. They told Jaclyn that when it seemed like it didn’t add up, to stay encouraged and keep moving forward. She had recorded their prayer on her phone and replayed those words as she sat in her kitchen trying to decide what the future of Mo’Bay Beignet Co. held. “Now is the part where you get the chills like I did that day standing in my kitchen almost 5 months later when that memory hit me right in the face,” Jaclyn says. “Needless to say, I kept moving forward.”
You could say that opening a business a month before it had to shut down due to COVID-19 wasn’t the best timing, but Jaclyn said she is thankful to be able to disagree: “I’m glad I didn’t know that 2020 was going to be the year of a global pandemic when the whole world would shut down. I doubt I would have even opened. But I believe I was supposed to open exactly when I opened. Mo’Bay didn’t just survive 2020, we thrived. That tells me that God’s timing is perfect, even if it doesn’t add up or make sense to us.”
We are not fast food. We are a made from scratch, every batch, all day every day beignet cafe. We are a throwback to a simpler time when everyone wasn’t in such a hurry.– Jaclyn Robinson, Mo’Bay Beignet Co. owner
Now Mo’Bay is not only “Making Mobile Sweeter” but “Making Auburn Sweeter” with its second location, which opened 13 months after its Dauphin Street debut. “I had a feeling this was not going to be a one location company. Just had a sense about it being something bigger. But I NEVER expected to grow this fast,” Jaclyn says.
Mo’Bay Beignet Co. has made quite a splash in downtown Mobile. And it’s not just the syrups that set their beignets apart; it’s Jaclyn’s goal for the business. “I like to think everything about Mo’Bay is unique- the look, the feel, the products, the way we are a place that makes everyone happy- young or old, red yellow black or white, male or female… Mo’Bay is all about creating a joyful atmosphere and experience for our community,” Jaclyn explains.
That sense of community is something she looked to her grandparents to help her create — the bag of dominos on each table at the grand opening was a nod to her grandfather. “I get emotional anytime I think about my grandparents and how much they would have loved all of this, how excited they would be for me,” Jaclyn said. “I wish they could have been here to experience it all too. I know they would have loved my beignets and syrups. I can hear Pap in his voice saying, ‘Mmm, that’s good eatin’!’”
And at the end of the day, that’s what Jaclyn says Mo’Bay Beignet Co. is all about: “We are not fast food. We are a made from scratch, every batch, all day every day beignet cafe. We are a throwback to a simpler time when everyone wasn’t in such a hurry. We move as fast as we can with the space we have, which isn’t a lot in a 150-year-old building with a kitchen that’s maybe a 100 square feet. But I don’t want to ever change what we are. Good things, special things, take time.”
Note: Mo’Bay Beignet Co. is Bellator Real Estate & Development’s April 2021 LoLo monthly client gift for Mobile County. Contact your Bellator REALTOR® for details.