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Savannah Mitsubishi plant takes on Miss Sophie

Health insurance, 401(k)s and paid vacations are par-for-the-course in many employee benefit packages. However, Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas’ Savannah Machinery Works’ plant is adding one more: a home-cooked meal served with good old-fashioned Southern hospitality.

Last September, Mitsubishi management approached Terri Bell while they were eating lunch at Miss Sophie’s, a restaurant co-owned by Bell and located in the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, about assisting with opening a café inside the company’s Savannah facility.

Serving up a home-cooked Southern-style buffet, Miss Sophie’s has become a local favorite lunch hotspot over the last three years for many Pooler residents and workers.

Bell said Mitsubishi representatives wanted to provide meal service for their employees and asked her to take what she is doing at Miss Sophie’s and bring it to their plant.

“They really care about their employees and wanted to give them something — they didn’t just want to give them canned food … they wanted their guys to have a real hearty meal,” she said.

Bell and her staff officially opened the cafe June 3, and she said she wants her patrons to feel like family regardless of who they are.

“When they come through the kitchen door there — they’ve got all that stress and all outside the door — but when they come in there I want them to feel warm, welcomed and at home. I want them to feel like they are coming in my kitchen and eating.”

Bell admitted she felt hesitant at first about operating in a corporate environment but found the plant’s staff a pleasure to work with.

“You feed somebody fried chicken, and you can get anything,” she said. “They love to be fed fried chicken.”

Bell, who balances running three businesses, has come a long way since she decided to leave the legal profession almost nine years ago and open a small casserole-supply store.

“I thrive off of it,” she said. “The fatigue doesn’t seem so bad when you are doing something you love. And I love it. I’d like to tell you I am making millions, but I’m not. I love feeding people. And that is what the Lord has called me to do — feed people — lots of them.”

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