By Andrea Brown Ross. Photography courtesy of Kepler’s
What does a German astronomer, Italian food, and the Mississippi Delta all have in common?
“Not much,” laughed Donnie Martin as he explained the namesake behind Kepler’s in Greenville, Miss. “Kepler is actually my son’s first name,” said Martin, “and I have been asked that question more than once.” While his son, Kepler, is about 400 years too late on the laws of planetary motion, he has created an Alfredo sauce that has been pleasing the palates of customers since 2010.
“Kepler was approached back in 2010 by the building owner about opening a restaurant here. McGarrh, the owner, knew of Kelper’s experience in the restaurant industry having worked his way up from a bus boy as a young man in Tyler, Tex. Once my son agreed, Kepler asked me to come aboard as kitchen manager.”
Taking into consideration there were few options in the way of Italian dining in the area, they decided that would be their niche and got busy remodeling the building.
Seven years later, this family-owned and family-friendly restaurant continues to satisfy the craving for Italian food along with now steak and seafood.
“Our sauces and pastas are made from scratch,” elaborated Martin. “A lot of our recipes we’ve created ourselves or have been passed down in our family although we are not Italian.”
As a young boy, Martin said his family often gathered and ate together on Sundays. At the age of 12, he took a real interest in cooking. Since then, he has always cooked at home and has been willing to try new things in the kitchen.
The menu, while highlighting Italian dishes, offers some variety as well. Steak, seafood, Cajun, and homecooking are popular menu choices. “Our chicken and dumplings are always a lunch favorite,” he said.
Chuck Dawkins, of Starkville, Miss., travels North Mississippi for his job, and often eats at Kepler’s when he is in the Greenville area.
“I’ve had the ribeye and filet. Both were excellent. The plate lunches are very good, too, and the service is excellent,”said Dawkins.
Daughter-in-law Kim Martin, shared, “There are so many good things on the menu, but one of my absolute favorites is the blackened salmon with angel hair pasta and Alfredo sauce.”
Speaking of homemade sauces, Martin said they have a few customer favorites. “Our marinara, a meatless red sauce, is popular. Our meat sauce is also very popular. It’s not uncommon for us to go through 10 gallons of it on pasta night. Our pesto sauce and crawfish etouffee are also in high demand.”
Another, perhaps surprisingly, popular dish is a lima bean soup. The recipe Donnie got from his father. Admittedly, jalapenos and sausage are not ingredients that first come to mind when thinking of lima beans for most folks, but it’s popular nonetheless.
Martin also credits their culinary success to taking their time in preparing and cooking their signature dishes along with using fresh vegetables and locally-sourced catfish.
“We cook our steaks on an open flame. We like them to be juicy and tender. If you order one well done, it’s going to take a minute, but it’s well worth it,” he suggested. “We also smoke our pulled pork barbecue, brisket, and chicken wings.”
And although reservations are not required, Martin suggested calling ahead for parties of six or more to help decrease waiting time. “Our Sunday lunches are often busy,” he shared.
For those with a large party and looking for an extended dining experience, The Delta Room located next door can accommodate. This event space is a popular location for rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions, and business meetings.
“We cater events at The Delta Room. Our barbecue and wings are popular choices, but we can also do special requests for lunch and even breakfast,” explained Martin.
With a full bar and extensive collection, Kepler’s offers 12 varieties of craft beer, domestic beer, and wine. “If our customers want something we don’t usually have in stock, like a particular wine for a special occasion, we do our best to accommodate them.”
From fancy to casual, Martin said “One of the great things about the restaurant is that we may have one table of guests in tuxedos sitting next to a table of guests in shorts and flip flops. We are also trying family nights during the week. We want to offer nutritious and budget- friendly options to families.”
Tuesday nights are $5 pasta night. Wednesdays are half-pound burger nights for five dollars. Thursday nights are vegetable plate nights. With four vegetables, cornbread, and a drink, five dollars is hard to beat.