Wooddruff’s Store Café and Pie Shop

14 Dec

    At 11:30 a.m. on a blustery November Tuesday my friend, Sarah and I walked through the door of Woodruff’s Store Café and Pie Shop on Amelon Road in Amherst County. Not only did the sign on the door say, “Open,” it also said, “Welcome.” Stepping through the door of that ancient white clapboard building was like being in a science fiction novel … Sarah and I took a step back in time.

   The last time I’d seen Sarah she had asked me if I’d been to Woodruff’s. She said the food was superb, although the menu was limited and September’s Southern Living Magazine had featured Woodruff’s fabulous pies. So I did some research and decided Woodruff’s owner, Angela Scott would be an excellent guest for my cable television talk show, “Lynchburg Live.” I called and invited Angela to be my guest and she graciously accepted my invitation.

   Always on the look-out for an interesting talk show guest AND a fabulous pie, I invited Sarah to go along with me to Woodruff’s to do a little pre-show research and to sample the pies that Southern Living had actually sent a representative to the store to sample earlier in the year. The Southern Living woman came away with a deep appreciation of Woodruff’s pies and a delightful piece for the magazine.

   It’s not often that we have celebrity pies in our area so Sarah and I went to meet the owner, her staff and sample some of that magazine-worthy pie.

   I went with the intention of making Woodruff’s pies the focus of my television show segment. I left with, don’t get me wrong, a deep and satisfying appreciation for not only the caramel apple pie but the coconut cream pie, too, but my focus took an unexpected turn and became the rich Amherst County history of Woodruff’s Store and the Woodruff family.

   Woodruffs began as a blacksmith’s shop in the late 1800s. Owner Angela Scott’s great grandfather, a freed slave who fought in the Civil War opened the shop with his pension. As a prominent part of Amherst County’s rich history, the blacksmith shop was Amherst County’s first black-owned business.

   Later, Scott’s father built a shelter for school children on the side of the road to protect them from weather. Eventually a second story was added to the shelter and in 1951, Scott’s parents, James and Mary opened a general store in what once was the children’s shelter.

   According to history, the store became a haven for those needing assistance; a woman suffering abuse at the hands of her husband and numerous families hit by hard times who were never turned away and received food from the store when they were in need.

   Today pictures from that rich history…pictures from a gentler time… adorn the walls of the one-room store. There are also four tables with chairs and a display case filled with pies, potato salad and angel eggs (the opposite, we were told, of deviled eggs) that add to the charm and atmosphere.

   At the back table you will find Mary Woodruff … matriarch of the family who, at 96 (she’ll be 97 next week) is bright, witty and in full command of her faculties. Mingling with the aroma of steaming vegetable soup and the warm scent of pie, Mary is the heartbeat of the store. She invites visitors to sit at her table and talk with her while they have a brief lunch or pie and coffee. Her company and her stories make it difficult to want to leave the warmth of the store and the aroma, not only of pies, but of history that permeates the walls, hangs quietly among the vintage photos and embraces those who stop just to rest a while.

   The store was a grocery store from 1951 – 1982.  In 1998 Angela Scott, who owns Woodruffs now, reopened it as a café and pie shop. She is assisted by her twin sisters and a cousin who, while keeping the books and running the business end of the store, all make those fabulous pies from scratch, using two residential-size ovens that accommodate four pies at a time. .

   Since our visit to Woodruff’s Store Café and Pie Shop I’ve learned that Johnny Woodruff, the athlete who won the 800 meter run in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin alongside notable Olympians like Jesse Owens, has a tie-in to Woodruff’s rich family history. I have to remember to ask Angela about that when she is my guest on “Lynchburg Live.”

   Feeling well-fed and warm all over after spending an afternoon among the warmth and charm of Woodruff’s Store Café and Pie Shop, I was vaguely concerned about the number of calories I’d consumed with one slice of warm caramel apple pie. Angela Scott knowingly assured me that pie sampled for research has no calories.

Photo is of me with my arm around Mary, the founder & matriarch of Woodruff’s. Daughter Angela in the back at far right is the current owner & is standing with her twin sisters who also run the business end of the store. Everybody bakes, even Mary who recently turned 97

  Image

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4 Responses to “Wooddruff’s Store Café and Pie Shop”

  1. Will Smith December 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Well … a very well written blog entry. Makes me wish I could describe Amherst County and the pies as well. I tried the Coconut Crème pie last month and it was gone in two days.

    Like

    • cooldragon December 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

      What took you so long, Willy?

      Like

  2. cooldragon December 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Welcome to the mad world of blogging, Linda!

    Like

    • heimdalco December 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks, John … I’m hoping to enjoy blogging as I’m able to figure it all out.

      Thanks, Willy! That coconut creme pie certainly didn’t last long at all …

      Like

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