We have a guest writer today… my wife Sue. Hope you enjoy this delightful article she wrote, about a delightful place. – Victor
I find myself sitting at the same table for two in a very small restaurant of five tables for the second time in three days. This restaurant is in the country, an hour from home and with a detour of 10 miles off of our normal route to visit family to reach it. So what am I doing back here?
The restaurant is a very welcoming place. Lots of natural light from the front windows and glass door, with the door frame painted a friendly red. The walls are a bright, cheery yellow. The five wooden tables and chairs are either eclectic or mismatched, whichever way you want to look at it, I choose eclectic. There are red and white checked table cloths that add to the cheeriness. The door was propped open both days because of unusually warm weather for February, which made it all the more welcoming.
When we walked in we were greeted by a smiling lady in her sixty’s at the counter and by an elderly lady at one of the tables. We quickly learned that the elderly lady is Miss Mary, 101 years of age, who is the mother of the owner and waitresses of Woodruffs. Darnelle, the older of the sisters we met, began to share the history of the restaurant with us. We had heard about Woodruffs from a PBS story several years ago. After seeing the show my husband and I agreed that “one day” we should make a trip to check out the place. Hearing that a coworker’s parents who were visiting from Michigan had looked up the place, we reiterated that we should go see this place. So finally, a visit to a family member in the hospital in that direction initiated the side trip.
You might be wondering what the attraction is to this place. Well, we heard that it has wonderful regular and fried pies. That was enough incentive to get us there. My husband is a great fan of fried pies and we both love regular pies. When we sat down, we were encouraged to look over the menu which was brief, with most items listed as homemade. There were sandwiches, soup, and hot dogs to choose from. And either Coke products or as Angela, the owner, said, “Sickening sweet Southern tea,” to drink. I got my tea half sweet and half unsweet. My husband was brave enough to get the real deal!
I loved my homemade pimento cheese with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat and a cup of the best homemade vegetable soup I have had in a great while. Victor tried the chicken salad and soup the first time and a hot dog with the works the second visit. He let me taste the chicken salad and it was wonderful. There was some spice in it that was tasty but we could not identify it.
Eating lunch was really just an excuse so we could have desert! The choices all sounded tempting, but I chose the Almond Joy pie and Victor settled on chocolate pie with orange, coffee, and walnuts. For me the taste was a flash from the past. Remember when cakes and pies had just a touch of almond extract in them? Well, this pie had some. There was so much coconut that the filling holding it together was barely noticeable. There was a drizzle of chocolate syrup on the top. But the real surprise was the bits of chocolate on the bottom of the filling. Every bite was delicious. Victor said his pie was like eating a chocolate truffle in a pie crust, rich and tasty.
We got some fried apple pies to go to share with my family. They did not disappoint when we sampled them. So after visits with family and 2 trips to the hospital to see my sister, we decided to go to Woodruffs again on the way home. Was it the food that brought us back? Well, it helped but the real reason we went back was the joy we felt there.
There is such a sense of welcome, community, and fellowship there. Everyone is greeted with a smile and a positive comment. Angie told us, “You should come when fruit is in season. We are really busy then having fun. Well, we have fun all of the time.” It was fun. With only five tables you can’t help but hear other conversations. And frequently, the conversation includes everyone present.
One man who came in the restaurant asked where the leather Bible was. He remembered it being on the counter in the past. It now resides on a small table beside the wooden bench where Miss Mary sits and visits with people. Alongside of her Bible is a small bell she rings if her “girls” aren’t moving as fast as she thinks they should. Some are asked if they want join Miss Mary’s table to eat their lunch, an honor for sure. Others as encouraged to choose where they want to sit. My choice both times was the table for two by the front window. I enjoy lots of light. Back to the Bible, though. Miss Mary was quick to reassure that man that she had her Bible with her and that they read from it before opening the store every day. She shared that they pray too.
One young man came in to introduce his bride to Miss Mary. He was the grandson of someone she had known. Another time a lady came in who had gone to school with Darnelle. Each visitor, whether staying for pie or just saying hello, elicited some bit of family history. So, by the time we left after our second visit, we felt like friends who knew some of the Woodruff past.
As we prepared to leave after the first visit, Darnelle asked where we were going. When we shared that we were going to visit my sister in the hospital, she said she and her family would be praying for my sister. I am sure they did pray as she is recovering rapidly! On the second visit, Darnelle inquired about my sister and was glad to hear she is doing better. She said they would continue to pray. We purchased Angela’s book about the shop and she came from the kitchen to sign it for us. As we chatted, I explained how blessed we had been by both visits. She commented that Woodruff’s isn’t really about the pies. As she put it, “That’s just what gets people here.” It is obvious that this family loves the Lord, loves people, and enjoys what they do.
I am sure we will return. As a matter of fact, I told my sister if she improves enough to walk out of the hospital, we will take her to Woodruff’s for a visit. Not for the pie, which is great, but for the joy and blessing of being around such fine folk!