Alice Ellison, from left, Earva Sumblin, Douglas Sumblin and Lynnora Sumblin with Mr. D's Southern Kitchen and Catering. STEPHEN H. COWLES/TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

Mr D’s opens on Armory Drive

Published 11:20am Tuesday, May 1, 2012



FRANKLIN—Douglas Sumblin has blended three passions in his life — God, family and cooking – into one.

Wenesday, May 2, will be the city’s native’s soft grand opening of his new restaurant, Mr. D’s Southern Kitchen and Catering on 931 Armory Drive across from Armory Field at the former location of Simply Divine. He opened two weeks ago and is planning an extravaganza later this month.

“The hand of God made this possible,” Sumblin said.

On learning the building was available, Sumblin envisioned what could be done, but fear crept in, and hesitancy enabled someone else to get the site.

“I waited until the last minute,” he said, but vowed to follow through if God made the site or another available. The space in the building owned by Dr. Leon Knight became open again.

Sumblin also credits his Lord, as well as his family, for the gift to cook.

“My mother, Earva, said that one time when I was 5 or 6 years ago, I got up in the middle of the night and put pots and pans around me like I was cooking,” he said.

Initially she didn’t encourage the practice, but he watched her in the kitchen. When he was in sixth or seventh grade, Sumblin prepared a whole meal.

“Since then she’s pushed me forward. Lord, I thank you,” he said.

Though he’s had no formal training, lessons have been learned through repeated practice.

“I love to experiment,” Sumblin said, with his signature Mr. D’s Southern Drawl Pound Cake. “I put things together and voila.”

Though he refers to himself as a southern cook, some universal dishes, like spaghetti, have been challenging.

Sumblin laughs when he thinks about the repeated attempts at cooking the noodle as perfectly as his mother. Often his was either too thick or too watery. Finally, he got the knack.

“I do know how to make it now,” he added.

His youngest sister invited Sumblin to Atlanta, which he thought would be for one year, but ended up being 13 years.

He got into hotel management for places such as J.H.M. Hospitality in Greenville, S.C., and Wingate Inn and Suites in Atlanta. Later he became a general manager for Microtel Inn and Suites in Columbus, Ga.

Even while scaling back to work as a server at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant, Sumblin was recommended to become a corporate trainer of servers at new venues.

“I’ve been managing people all my life. I like to teach, train and help them take service to the next level,” said the 43-year-old. “It’s been very rewarding to travel. I’ve met wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people.”

The importance of his family, and particularly that of his ailing father, Freddie Sumblin, compelled him to travel back and forth from Atlanta. But the trips were proving expensive, so Sumblin returned home in 2009 to help care for his dad, who died in December 2010.

In addition to his mother and sister, Lynnora, helping out as volunteer support, staff members are Alice Ellison and Justin Sumblin, a nephew.

Sumblin offers Southern fried chicken, fried fish, chicken tenders, pigs feet, ox tail, tomato pudding, lima beans and potato salad, to name a few. Desserts include banana pudding and cakes of zeta lemon, red velvet cake and triple chocolate with raspberries.

Until Monday, May 7, Mr. D’s is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; 4 to 8 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. A new schedule will follow.

Reservations are recommended for weekend dining. Call 569-7544.


  • RWH

    The chicken is very good and fresh! I had lunch there the other day and will be back. Good luck to all at Mr. D’s and to all the ladies there you were a pleasure to talk to.

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  • SandMan

    Right on, Cat. Maybe we can meet there for lunch, and invite johnhenry. “Oh, waitress….another round of pigs feet, please”.
    Get it….pigs feet? Hope you’re doing well, my millionaire friend!

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  • Cat

    I should have known if something is being said about food, the SandMan would be right up in the middle of the table…..I haven’t tried the food yet but will be stopping by soooon!!!

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  • SandMan

    Good luck to the Sumblins. However, when I get a hankering for “Soul Food”, nothing beats Preau’s Station One on Country Club Rd. Mama Preau & her sons always “treat ya like kin” and the Christian atmosphere warms the soul, as well as “tickling the innards”.
    The service is always served with a splash of humor, as the sons stand by your table & exchange the “joke of the day” (in good taste of course). And, due to the unexpected closure of David’s Mkt., you don’t have to worry about having your car towed.

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  • sharonbay

    We did dinner there tonight and other then the french fries, which were crispy and delicious anyways, the food is all homemade, including the lemonade which my husband wanted to drink more of, but we had to go.

    A great deal of their menu is fried, but the sides were really yummy. I could have eaten a small tub of their potato salad. We came home with was the best red velvet cake I have had in a long time.

    We got there at 715 and they closed at 8. Being as today was their first day they had run out of a few things, but if what we ate was the dregs, then I can’t wait to go out to lunch. They are in the old Simply Divine location there on Armory Drive across from the football field and skate park. They only have four tables, but service was so friendly and when we trounced in with three kids at the end of what must have been a busy day for them, they were so pleasant and nice. The waitress even carried my 5 month old baby so my husband and I could eat. Just a nice family place that can cook.

    I would highly recommend stopping in and checking them out.

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  • vannprn

    I wish you all the best in being successful. I love to see people follow their dreams. I have always wanted to open my own catering business. I love to cook and enjoy seeing people eat in knowing they love my food. Welcome back to the community. Sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I certainly will be in to see you. God Speed my friend in all your endeavors.

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  • SandMan

    Could be, WC…could be……

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  • Everde

    Thanks to all who have stopped by Mr.D’s. Look to see you on Wednesday, May 2. Will be open for breakfast at 6:00AM

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  • homegirl

    Congratulations, Cuz!

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  • beachgirl

    I wish Doug success with his business, he is fine young man…

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  • SandMan

    “Hey GrandPa…whats fer Supper”? Well…we got ox tail, pigs feet, lima beans & Doug’s country fried chicken”…”y’all come”….”YUM, YUM”!!

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