Teresa White has made Hoover the home of her small business for 10 years. Teresa opened Coffee-ol-ogy Café inside the Hoover Public Library in 2009, and then rebranded the restaurant as Customs Café and relocated to the Plaza at Riverchase in 2016. Teresa says she loves Hoover as the setting for her café because of its cultural diversity. We talked to Teresa about some of her favorite foods, experiences in Hoover and what celebrity she would love to serve at Customs Café.
What are your favorite aspects of Hoover?
One of my favorite aspects of the city of Hoover is the cultural diversity. Since Customs Café offers cultural cuisines from around the world along with a traditional menu, people from around the globe dine with us and share their family food traditions and food culture. On our “Welcome” chalkboard, we encourage our customers to write “welcome” in their native language. To date, we have 25 different languages on the board.
How did the Customs Café get started?
Customs Café began as the vision of our family to offer home-style foods from around the world in a restaurant. Since we are an international family, Craig Casiday, my son and business partner, and I learned to find “where the local eats” when traveling abroad. In 2010 we created and served 43 internationally and ethnically inspired menus at our café. With the same spirit of culinary adventure, we now serve a home-style menu from a featured part of the world each month at Customs Café.
What is the most delicious dish you have served, or tasted?
The most delicious dish we have offered is a tie between Bananas Foster Bread Pudding (from our Louisiana Creole menu served every March) and Old Berlin Beer Cheese Soup (originally featured on our German menu but now available every day.) Conversations about the former “Baby Doe’s Restaurant” began when we serve our Beer Cheese Soup, so I’d say it’s pretty good.
What do you love about your job?
The rewards and challenges of creating a one-of-a-kind restaurant really keep me going. Craig and I have a great partnership in which he can express his genius in the kitchen and on TV, and I have the reins over marketing, hospitality and finance. Being self-directed and independent, I enjoy operating my own business.
What is your favorite food?
Explaining my favorite food is nearly impossible for me because I am adventurous and open to trying new foods and dishes. I would say that my favorite spice profile is Moroccan.
What is your least favorite food?
The least favorite of the foods I have experienced up to this point is escargot. My family enjoys La Maison Blanche in the Latin Quarter in Paris. Once, my son ordered escargot and I stated I would not be trying it. When the dish arrived, his 3-year-old daughter popped one into her mouth because she likes them. So, I had no choice. I’m proud to have tried escargot. It wasn’t too bad, but once was adventurous enough for me.
How do you hope Customs Café impacts Hoover?
Our mission at Customs Café is to share delicious food and global culture in a pleasant dining experience. We believe that Hoover is the perfect city for that because we have so much cultural diversity here.
In what way can Hoover continue to, or better support, small businesses?
Having operated a business in three different cities in Alabama, I have to say that the City of Hoover employees are the most courteous and helpful we have encountered. Also, I’m impressed with the quality of life here – from the large variety of public parks to having one of the best public libraries in the country, Hoover has a lot to offer. Supporting locally-owned, family businesses is becoming increasingly important, so I would encourage Hoover residents, city employees and city officials to select a small business to patronize every week. Small business owners are our neighbors and friends. In 2018, I began a group for women business owners, Women B.O.S.S., which meets at 8 a.m. on the third Tuesday of every month at Customs Café to support and inspire women in business.
What is the most adventurous thing you have ever eaten?
It was an adventure to try escargot, but my greatest food adventure soon became one of my favorite meals: Haggis, tatties and neeps. A plate of haggis, potatoes and turnips in Edinburgh at “The Last Drop Inn.”
If you could serve a dish from Customs Café to anyone in the world—celebrity, royalty, political figure, spiritual figure—who would it be?
I would love to serve Queen Elizabeth for three reasons: I admire her strength of character and her devotion to the Crown; she would probably set me straight about a few things (like a grouchy grandparent) and that would be delightful; and I would love to ask what she carries in her purse. I don’t think I can pass from this life without knowing that.
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
I don’t really have a “bucket list.” I have hopes and aspirations for my life, but finding out the contents of the Queen’s handbag is about the only thing I feel that I MUST do.