Every good Southern cook has a tried-and-true recipe for mouth-watering, buttery biscuits. For Madison County’s Mike and Judie Donovan, their award-winning recipe has kept them in the biscuit-making business for over two decades.
Recently, the Donovans’ drive-thru restaurant, Biscuit Express in Meridianville, won Simply Southern TV’s Facebook contest for Bama’s Best Biscuit, beating out 10 other Alabama restaurants nominated by viewers.
“We have real, made-from-scratch biscuits,” Mike said. “We do the whole process right here in the store everyday, from mixing all the ingredients to rolling them out and baking them.”
On a regular day, about 350 biscuits are baked, slathered with butter, piled high with fixins, bagged and handed out the store’s drive-thru window. But on busy days, Biscuit Express staff churn out up to 500 of the yummy, gluten-laden treats.
Judie said she was blown away to find out they won the contest by almost 900 votes, and she was humbled by the community’s support.
“We’re just country folks who have been majorly blessed beyond measure,” Judie said. “This is a real honor. We try to do everything with love, and we care. People can tell when you care and love what you do. It shows in the food and in the service, and that’s what we strive for.”
Alfa Insurance Agent Sandra Perry works across the street from Biscuit Express and said she knows just where to go when the hankering for a homemade biscuit hits.
“We’re always running over to Biscuit Express to get something — at least three or four times a week,” said Perry, who nominated the restaurant for the contest. “My favorite is the chicken biscuit, and my grandson loves their bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. If you order bacon, you’re going to get lots of it.”
Mike said giving people more than they expect is one of their secrets to success.
“Our philosophy is quality, quantity and fast service,” he said. “We give you plenty of meat, because when you bite into a bacon biscuit, you want to taste bacon. Most fast food places only give you a little bit, but when you get our product, there’s quite a lot of meat on there.”
Mike and Judie took a leap of faith to start Biscuit Express in 1997 after Mike left his 20-year career in the fast food industry. The experiment worked, as the Donovans will celebrate 20 years as restaurant owners in November.
“The first day we opened we had $90 dollars in the bank, and we only did about $90 in business,” Mike said. “But the second day, we doubled the first day’s business, and the third day we doubled the second day. We have been really blessed. Most food places only survive a year or two.”
The Donovans own a second Biscuit Express location in Moores Mill. Breakfast is guaranteed until 11 a.m., and both locations serve lunch until closing at 1:30 p.m.
Bama’s Best Biscuit contest was sponsored by the Alabama Wheat & Feed Grain Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. As winners, the Donovans received a plaque and $300 in prize money.