By Kimberly Wallis

Nichola and Tim Saunders have really made an entrance into the Vernon Parish community with Sweet EsSaunce Catering. Offering both sweet and savory favorites, including both her Southern lady staples and his mid-Western flair in the cuisine they create, allows them to express their passion for service and love for people in a way that they hope customers can taste in every bite!

Nichola took the time to tell us a little about the faces behind Sweet EsSaunce Catering and answer a few questions about starting a business in Vernon Parish. 

We’d like to get to know you better, tell us a little bit about the owners?

“Timothy and I met in 2010, when we were both stationed in Mannheim, Germany. I was a divorced mom of three, and he was a divorced father of two. My biological children are 25, 24, and 20; his are 19 and 17. As of last year, we are raising his biological (my bonus) 17 year-old, and our (my biological) soon to be 3 year-old granddaughter. We are very family-oriented and rooted in our Christian faith.”

A beautiful display of an Army related cake with accompanying cupcakes.

What caused you to want to start a business? 

“In July of 2012, a Permanent Change of Station from Mannheim, Germany to Fort Leonard Wood, MO presented some new obstacles and challenges. As a way to not lose myself and maintain positivity, I started cooking new recipes (both savory and sweet) including the Southern Classics I grew up with that were a staple in my home as a little girl. I had a new found passion and love for creating food and sharing it with others.”

Owners Nichola and Tim Saunders, wearing the uniforms of Sweet EsSaunce Catering, pose for the camera.

What are your plans for the future? 

“Sweet EsSaunce plans to open a brick and mortar bakery here in Leesville which will allow us the opportunity to provide our unique sweets to the community on a broader scale. We are currently working to secure funding to purchase a property in downtown Leesville in the hopes of opening a bed an reakfast to further help us be a staple within and an asset to our local community by providing our southern classics on a daily basis.”

Is the community outside the base supportive? Any examples of how?  

“The local government agencies are super supportive. State Senator Mike Reese and his wife, Morgan, commissioned Sweet EsSaunce Catering to provide services for Faith Training Christian Academy‘s art exhibit hosted by Gallery One Ellleven.

“Sweet EsSaunce Catering provided services for the Office of the Mayor during Election Watch 2022 and for Mayor Rick Allen’s Meet & Greet with both the leaders of Fort Polk and leaders within the community.

“Logan Morris, the president of the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce is a key reason for Sweet EsSaunce Catering gaining traction here in Leesville. He was very supportive and understood the vision we have to help build stronger ties in our community. During a recent Chamber of Commerce Member’s Economic Business meeting, which was hosted at East Leesville Baptist Church, Sweet EsSaunce Catering had the honor of providing a customized lunch menu at the event.

ERA Realty – specifically Mrs. Sarver, Kelly Moore and Melissa Spillers McKinney – sought out Sweet EsSaunce Catering for their Annual Awards Presentation. We provided the food and gift boxes for them to show their appreciation to local title companies, other real estate agents, and new home owners for their service and support.

“Louise Thaxton of Fairway Independent Mortgage contracted Sweet EsSaunce Catering to provide services for their annual Christmas party. This was in addition to providing meals at the Booker-Lewis House for the Louisiana Forestry Association twice; the latter time included special guest, Randy Moore, Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.

“Sweet EsSaunce Catering had the honor of providing catered meal services at Leesville First Assembly Church (LFA) for Pastor Osteen and the brave individuals that gave their life to Christ while successfully completing their addiction and recovery program.”

A breakfast plate consisting of artfully arranged eggs, waffles, and bacon.

What do you think of the area around Fort Polk? Why do you feel this way?

“The area outside of Folk Polk has such great potential to grow. There are a myriad of talented people in our community who have great ideas, talents, and products, not to mention the great businesses that are already here.”  

“If established businesses had more visibility it would allow more traction. If new businesses, that haven’t had the ability to build business credit yet, had more access to business resources (instead of  relying on personal funds), this community could become a metropolis of sorts.
If you would like to obtain menus or services from Sweet EsSaunce Catering, call (404) 944-3097, email them, or visit their Facebook page here.