Casting a Spell on Bartlett

Voodoo Cafe offers beignets, coffee, and lots of fun

Photography by Elly Hazelrig

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t quit your day job”? Well, sometimes quitting your day job can end up being the sweetest treat. 

Faith Lansdon, owner of Voodoo Cafe in Bartlett, was a global account manager for several years. While she loved Excel spreadsheets and data, the company turnovers and decreased salary benefits really put a damper on things. “The job took over my life, and I lost out on a lot of my girls’ childhood. Honestly, it was sucking the soul out of me,” says Faith. The last straw was when she arrived at work and 300 emails were downloading. She calmly got up from her desk and put in her notice with HR.

Faith had always dreamed of being an entrepreneur and originally wanted to open Voodoo Maddie, a curiosity shop named after her older daughter. But she wanted a coffee truck too. “I knew that coffee in a truck wouldn’t be enough. But I also knew that you couldn’t get beignets anywhere in Memphis!” she says. So she decided to open a truck that would sell both coffee and beignets. She named her truck Voodoo Cafe, instead of Voodoo Maddie. (She couldn’t name the business after only one daughter!)

Her logo was a voodoo doll in a business suit. “It was my way of sticking a thumb to the corporate world,” she says.

After perfecting the beignet recipe, the only decision left was the shape. Faith, being creative, didn’t want square or round beignets. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if they were in the shape of voodoo dolls so people could stab them!’” she says.

Faith also didn’t want the typical food truck. As a curiosity lover, she wanted something that would stand out. “I found a 1959 Ford Vanette in an old junkyard in Alabama. It was previously used as a search-and-rescue medical unit,” explains Faith. 

It took five years to restore the Ford Vanette into a food truck. The Voodoo Cafe food truck opened in May 2017 at the corner of Walnut Grove and Houston Levee. “It was the perfect location,” Faith says. “There are lots of churches in the area, and tons of people simply stopped by because of this odd and unusual van.” 

As lines formed, some people tasted beignets for the first time. And they sold out the very first day.

Soon other food trucks started setting up too, which provided another great equation. More food trucks, plus more people, equals better business.

Soon Faith began to scout out and set up at other locations, like the Shops of Saddle Creek and at the Overton Park Shell. “People wanted more access to us than we could provide,” she says. “We had the following, and I knew we needed to open a brick-and-mortar location.” 

In 2019, the Voodoo Cafe coffee truck was a regular at the Bartlett Station Farmers Market. Realizing that a lot of their regulars lived in and around Bartlett, Faith began looking for the perfect permanent location. “When I found this location, I walked in and it just felt . . . right,” says Faith. “Plus, written on the wall was, ‘Faith makes all things possible.’” 

Voodoo Cafe opened in January 2020, 52 days before the first major COVID shutdown began. “On opening day, it was raining and there was a line around the corner!” says Faith. Despite the weather, they sold out of beignets within the first three hours. 

Business continued to grow until COVID shut everything down. “I initially thought we would be closed for a week, but to our surprise, we weren’t allowed to open the first month of COVID,” says Faith. After the first month passed, they were finally cleared to do curbside orders. Faith and her employees persevered, fulfilling curbside orders and coming up with new beignet flavors. The Bank of Bartlett bent over backwards to help Voodoo Cafe qualify for PPP loans. And their loyal customers made sure they stayed open.

The most memorable day of 2020 was Mother’s Day. “Square had just rolled out a new feature during COVID where customers could place mobile orders. The orders were supposed to automatically stagger, but instead orders were rolling out over themselves,” Faith recalls. “We had coffee and beignets everywhere. The parking lot was completely filled, and we were running around trying to match orders to the car. We opened at 8 a.m., but by 10 a.m. we were so slammed that we had to stop taking orders. We finally got caught up on the orders by noon. It was wild and is still our highest grossing day ever!”

That Mother’s Day craze was partially caused by demand for the Blueberry Bayou, a seasonal beignet topped with blueberry compote and lemon cream cheese drizzle. The Blueberry Bayou is still available two weeks every year, starting on Mother’s Day. Other seasonal beignets include Strawberry Lavue (with a sweet cream topping and fresh strawberries), available April to September, and Witch Doctor, which features spiced apples and is offered October to December. 

Voodoo has delicious beignets that are always on the menu too. Favorites include the Dead Elvis (bacon, banana, honey, and peanut butter), Sweet Juju (dulce de leche and cinnamon), Benny and the Jets (sweet cream and fruity pebbles), and Grave Expectations (marshmallow fluff and crushed Oreos).

Faith’s favorite is the Little Mamba. It’s a beignet topped with honey, pistachios, and cinnamon. “Growing up, I was friends with a large Greek family,” she says. “I would devour loukoumades (Greek donut balls with honey and walnuts) as a kid.”

Their traditional beignet comes with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar and is delicious when paired with a 24-ounce Persian sweet tea. You can also get Vietnamese, Cuban, and Turkish coffees, all roasted and brewed in their traditional styles.

“I really wanted to get people to try new things,” says Faith. 

On top of delicious beignets and amazing coffee, you can find a plethora of unique artwork at the cafe. In fact, ninety eight percent of the art in Voodoo Cafe is for sale.

“Being an artist at heart, I wanted to provide a platform for local artists to sell their art for a very small commission,” explains Faith. 

Trying new things has consistently paid off for Voodoo Cafe. In the summer of 2023, they entered and won the Edible Memphis iced coffee ChampionSip. Their drink, Purple Haze, featured ube, a naturally sweet, purple yam that is native to southeast Asia. Faith collaborated with former co-worker Ellen Ayohn to create Purple Haze, which Faith describes as a “rich and bold Saigon-style Vietnamese iced coffee with a delightful twist of ube cream cheese foam.”

As for the future, Faith has plans to expand, in size and menu. “I’m working on a new concession trailer; parts are hard to find for a 1959 Ford Vanette,” she says. “Plus, I’ll plan on adding more savory options.”

Voodoo Cafe
2780 Bartlett Boulevard

Patricia Lockhart is a native Memphian who loves to read, write, cook, and eat. Her days are filled with laughter with her four kids and charming husband. By day, she’s an assistant principal and a writer, but by night—she’s asleep. @memphisismyboyfriend

Elly Hazelrig, of Haze Photography & Media, is a Memphis-based photographer from Chicago. She aspires to inspire. @haze.photog