Bernice Price worked in food service for 23 years before she opened Neecee’s Catering in downtown Killeen in February.
After leaving the Army in the 1980s, Price worked as a civilian contractor in food service at Fort Hood and overseas. Price spent five years in Iraq and one year in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor between 2005 and 2012.
“I was over there serving the troops,” she said.
Price started to think about opening up her own place about two years ago. Although her family wasn’t involved in the food industry when she was growing up in Thibodeaux, La., she said deciding on serving Louisiana-style food was an easy decision.
“When people think of Louisiana, they think of good food and good times,” she said.
Neecee’s’ specialties including muffaletas, po-boys and gumbo. She also serves several styles of burgers, salads and offers catering services. Her goal is for Neecee’s to become a full-service restaurant with a staff and the capability to cater large events.
“It’s just me right now,” Price said. “But down the road, my goal is to go full service, with a staff. Right now I can’t do that.
“It’s going to take a lot of pushing, perseverance and advertising. It’s a lot of hard work, but that is just what it takes.”
This is Price’s first experience running a business, but she said her experience in food service is making the transition easy.
“Everything has been pretty smooth,” she said. “I feel like everything is falling in place. You go step by step. The city has been wonderful. They have been very supportive.”
Price said her love of service is a big help.
“I want the best for my customers,” she said. “I do. That is not something I say just for the paper. That is from the heart. I put the same love into my food for my customers that I would if I were cooking for myself or my family.”
Price expects more foot traffic after the downtown construction is finished this spring. She said her biggest challenge right now is marketing.
“We have a website, and I am on Facebook,” she said. “I just started a radio spot on 103.1 that will run for the next four weeks. The word is getting out.”
“Neecee” is a nickname Price’s friends came up with for her when she was in the Army. She thought it would be a catchy name for her business.
“My family calls me ‘Bern,’ but ‘Bern Catering’ doesn’t sound right,” she said.
Neecee said her first two months in business have given her reason to be optimistic. She seems excited to have the opportunity to follow her dreams.
“I love food service,” she said. “I love serving people. And where I’m from, food is just so important. Most people eat to live, but in Louisiana, people live to eat.”