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Allison McDaniel Keeps Southern Hospitality Diners’ Hopes Up for Justin Timberlake

Justin has left the building.
Justin has left the building.haha Photo: Melissa Hom

Arkansas native Allison McDaniel felt right at home when she started work at Justin Timberlake’s buzzy barbecue joint Southern Hospitality. Not only did she join a wait staff of fellow southern belles, but she was right across the street from Brother Jimmy’s, where she waited tables for three years. “There was a vibe of rivalry when we first opened,” McDaniel tells us in her southern drawl, but these days her former co-workers at Jimmy’s happily spill in to gawk at celebrities like Tommy Lee. We asked McDaniel about serving the man himself and how to thwart the haters.

Is there a rivalry between Southern Hospitality and Brother Jimmy’s?
We get different crowds. Southern Hospitality gets a bit higher-class crowds, not so much the college, wannabe frat guys. A lot of times people come into Southern Hospitality and hang out all night and then as I’m walking home I’ll see them at Brother Jimmy’s late night.

What’s it like working with an all-southern crew?
I love it. College football season is starting so it’s a big time here for us. Only southern people know how important this time of the year is.

How long can the wait be? How can you avoid it?
The longest wait is probably around two hours. We take reservations for six or more. If you come in past 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., you’ll be waiting.

How often is Justin actually there?
Quite a bit. When he’s in town, he comes in.

What’s it like to serve him? What does he order?
He’s so nice and southern — he exudes what his restaurant tries to. He got fried green tomatoes, pecan pie, and the pulled pork.

Do people bother him while he’s eating?
They stare. The craziest thing people do — they’ll camp out. If he’s there you can rest assured the tables won’t turn over. They’ll wait all night if they have to.

Do people get bummed when he’s not in the restaurant?
A lot of times I’m like, “Keep your hopes up — he might walk through the door at any moment.” If young teenagers are here, I’m like, “He sat right there where you’re sitting.”

Has Britney come in? Or anyone else unusual?
Britney hasn’t come in. Lance Bass comes in a lot. Tommy Lee came in with a bunch of his friends. That was a huge ruckus. I didn’t realize how many people were such huge fans.

Do people ever come in just to hate on the place?
People think, “This kid sings, he dances and he acts — he can’t have a restaurant too and do well.” If people are talking negative, it’s because they’re jealous. Sometimes we have negative publicity that is completely made up. You will never get bad service here — these girls don’t have it in them. And the food is always good.

So, do you have the inside scoop on Justin and Jessica Biel?
I wish I did. That’s what all of my friends ask me!

Allison McDaniel Keeps Southern Hospitality Diners’ Hopes Up for Justin