In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

M.L. Edwards & Co: A landmark destination for southern living

It's got a little bit of everything!

M.L. Edwards & Co. sits on the corner of the historic Downtown Mount Vernon Square. It’s a historic general store, bistro, cafe and a private event venue.

History of the building

The current storefront has been open since 2017, but  the name M.L. Edwards dates back to over a century ago.

In the early 1900’s M.L. Edward opened a general store filled with hardware items, dry goods, clothing, furniture, antiques and more. The store operated as a family-run business and many folks growing up in and around Mount Vernon have memories within the walls.

“When I was a child I would buy tennis shoes here and come here with my dad for hardware stuff,” said Lauren Lewis, who currently works at M.L. Edwards & Co. “It’s just really special tha tthe building has no live breathed into it and we’re able to serve future generations.”

In 2016 the Edwards family sold the building to the Ostertags who have completely remodeled the building while still preserving many of the unique historical characteristics from the original structure.

“So when the current owners acquired the building they wanted to keep as much of the integrity of the original structural components as possible,” said Calah Miller, who currently works at M.L. Edwards & Co. “A lot of things you see are from the original building. The wavy glass to the hardwood floors to the ceiling tiles. We’ve really tried to keep a lot of that makes this building great and reuse it and feature it in a cool way.”

Now the building is part of the National Register of Historic Places and it was awarded the Best in Texas Historic Restoration Award by the Texas Downtown Association.

Bistro 1916

The bistro that sits inside M.L. Edwards & Co. is named Bistro 1916 which is the year that the original M.L. Edwards & Co. store moved into the current building. The original building was across the plaza and burned down in a fire in the early 1900’s.

The bistro is open for lunch from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Everything from the bistro’s menu is made from scratch with as much local produce as possible.

“We’ve recently added our fresh fast bowls to the menu,” said Lewis. “We want people living and working in Downtown Mount Vernon to get in and out and back to work and feel great with fresh vegetables and ingredients from our meals.”

You can check out their menu here.

They also offer happy hour every Thursday from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

And brunch is offered from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Watermelon Mills Coffeehouse 

In addition to Bistro 1916, M.L. Edwards & Co. also houses a coffee shop which consists of specialty coffee which is locally roasted in Mount Pleasant. All signature sauces and syrups are also made in house.

“We do everything through a long process,” said Miller. “But it’s the high quality way and you’re not going to be able to get that in any other coffee.

Their drink menu includes specials like a Lavender Latte, Sweet Cream Mocha and their signature drop coffee.

The coffeehouse got it’s name after a well-known barber in Mount Vernon.

The Watermelon Mills Story 

William Cullen Mills was born July 28, 1910, and grew up in the small rural town of Mount Vernon, Texas. As with most young boys in that era, he spent his childhood outdoors and made his own entertainment. On one such day, William and a group of friends thieved a few watermelons from a farmer’s patch and were having a grand ol’ time tossing them off the local railroad trestle bridge. Deputy Sheriff Mal Moore just happened to pass by, and they all ran for cover. While making their escape, young William fought with a barbed wire fence, leaving noticeable scratches up and down his arms. A few days later Deputy Moore saw William in town and nonchalantly asked the boy, “So where’d you get those scratches, Watermelon?” And so began the nickname he carried from then on.

‘Watermelon’ Mills eventually left Mount Vernon and joined the U.S. Army, where he served for six years. After the Army, Watermelon did a little bit of everything…from being a farmer, to a roughneck, and even a security guard. he was laid off at the age of 50, and decided it was finally time to pursue his lifelong desire of becoming a barber. He cut hair the rest of his life in his beloved hometown, in a building that would eventually become known as ‘Watermelon’s Hair Corner.”

Watermelon’s love for conversation and coffee (both of which he consumed in large amounts) was shadowed only by his love for his community. Many residents still remember “lemonade runs,” when Watermelon would bring fresh-squeezed lemonade out to summer football practices for players to enjoy.

His ability to wield a pair of shears and his mastery at storytelling earned Watermelon a loyal following that stayed with him for years; folks would continue to line up for a cut even when he hit his nineties and his hand shook a bit. He was later voted into the Franklin County Hall of Fame and to this day people still speak of Watermelon with reverence and respect.

  • Story credit: Kathy Moore and Jean Pamplin. Photo credit: Kenneth Greer

General Store

The general store inside M.L. Edwards & Co. features more than 2,500 square feet of carefully curated and locally sourced items for your home, kitchen, closet, and more.

There are beautiful antiques, jewelry, apparel and other knick knacks.

Private Events 

Upstairs at M.L. Edwards & Co. is a large 5,500 square foot loft that is available for any private event. The loft overlooks the downtown square and boasts the original wavy glass windows, hardwood floors, exposed brick, open wood beam ceiling and other historic pieces from the original building. The 2017 remodeling allows the space to be booked for weddings, receptions, reunions and so much more.

Click here to book.

M.L. Edwards & Co. is located at 103 Kaufman Street in Mount Vernon.

Store Hours:

Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

​Bistro Hours

Lunch Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Brunch Saturday & Sunday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Happy Hour Thursdays: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Watermelon Mills Coffeehouse Hours

Every Day: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Loft Hours

By appointment only

Visit their website here. And check them out on Facebook here.

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