Jackie O's - East Aloha, Diamondhead

Bill Lawler moved to South Mississippi from Houston, Texas and started his first business on the beach.

"I got tired of all the heat and humidity outside, so I decided I wanted to have an indoor business."

That's was eight years ago, when Jackie O's first opened in Diamondhead. Don't be fooled. It's not named for the former first lady, but a tribute to Bill's Aunt Jackie Olenburger.

"My mother died when I was about 12 years old, and my aunt Jackie helped teach me to be the family cook." Jackie O's started out with just soups and sandwiches.

"When I opened this place, I had a microwave oven, three crockpots and that was it," Bill recalls.

Now it's a full blown restaurant with everything from seafood or ribs to sandwiches and salads.

Bill says he's willing to try just about anything a customer might want.

"I say, if you have a recipe, give it to me and I'll put it on as a special. This is a neighborhood restaurant. I like to take care of the people who take care of me."

One of his own inventions is the Mardi Gras Po-Boy that has turkey, ham, roast beef, cheddar, swiss, tomatoes and a little bit of honey mustard

"We call it a Mardi Gras sandwich because it's a party for your mouth. We also make a [chicken] marrakesh which is a similar pressed sandwich. Except we use pickles, swiss cheese, chicken and a lot of garlic. It's really zesty!"

As filling as all the food is, the "made from scratch" desserts will still tempt you. And good news for dieters, a couple are even "Atkins Friendly." They have a coconut cream cheese cake, an Atkins strawberry tart cake, an Atkins coffee cheesecake and butterscotch bread pudding.

If you can't make it to the restaurant, Bill will bring the food to you. He's catered parties for as few as five people and as many as 500. A couple of his most famous dinner guests include ZZ Top and Senator Trent Lott.

Jackie O's boasts that they have some of the best food on the coast and they have the awards to prove it. The Sun Herald readers voted their burgers and poboys "the best on the coast" several times.

"My whole thing about owning this restaurant is I like to make people happy! It makes me happy and that's what drives me"

Jackie O's is located in the Diamondhead Shopping Center. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 8:30 pm and Saturday from 8:30 am until 3:00pm.