Say it ain’t so, Bo

Published 5:27 pm Thursday, July 6, 2023

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Today let’s dive into one of my favorite hobbies: eating!

If you take one good look at my waistline, you’ll figure out very quickly that I’m someone who is the first to the table when the dinner bell rings.

Food, of course, is a staple of sustaining life. Without nourishment we cannot survive.

My eating habits were built from a mom and grandmother who knew their way around the kitchen.

My grandmother, Thelma Johnson Joyner, prepared all meals from scratch. Her buttermilk biscuits were “to die for.” I can still see her today – all 4-foot nothing – rolling out her biscuit dough by hand.

My mom was famous for her chicken casserole, fried cornbread, fried corn, fried chicken and a dessert she called “pan pudding”, which was simply cake batter poured into an oblong Pyrex dish, baked, and then covered with her homemade chocolate icing. My brother, my dad, and I would always fight over the last piece.

You learned back then to be thankful for what was placed in front of you to eat. It was either eat what was there or go to bed hungry.

My grandmother’s sister-in-law, Georgia Johnson, lived within “hollering distance” from where I grew up. I remember enjoying many meals that she prepared. When there was a big family gathering, all of her food was placed on the dining room table and covered with a tablecloth. The children, me included, would get scolded for trying to peek under the cloth to see what was waiting for us to eat.

Then after meeting my future in-laws when Deborah and I started dating, I fell in love with Mamie Vann’s cooking. She always prepared an insane amount of food…several meats and a wide assortment of veggies for every meal, no matter how many feet were parked under her table.

Ditto for my sister-in-law, Ramona Swink. She inherited her mother’s skills in the kitchen as well as preparing food in quantity….there’s was always enough to feed an army.

Nowadays, with busy lifestyles and an empty nest, Deborah and I prefer to let our local restaurants prepare our meals. That isn’t to imply that Deborah can’t cook…she can, but by the time I get home from work – at 7 pm or after on most weekdays – it’s just easier to stop by a local eatery to pick-up dinner. Otherwise it would be 9:30 p.m. or after before we could get out the kitchen after a home-cooked meal.

It’s always great to try out a new local restaurant. Deborah and I did exactly that this past weekend as we joined members of her family to celebrate Ramona’s 80th birthday. Her sons had selected V’s Restaurant in Garysburg as the place we would gather to surprise Ramona on her milestone birthday.

Vicky Bennett opened the restaurant – located at 312 U.S. Highway 301 at the intersection of NC 186 – in November of last year. It was an expansion of her already successful catering business, V’s Gourmet Food Service. Next door to the restaurant is Country Sprouts, a butcher shop owned by her son.

While the restaurant’s menu isn’t as expansive as others, don’t let that lack of quantity fool you. The food they prepare is excellent. My nine-year-old grandson, Brody, is a very picky eater. He typically shies away from trying anything new, but he took a bold step on Saturday afternoon and tried a small piece of grilled chicken tenders that his mom had ordered. His eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas upon sampling that tasty grilled chicken, so much to the point that be begged for more.

There were approximately 30 folks attending Ramona’s party, enough to fill V’s dining room. From the fresh pattied hamburgers, to mouth-watering cheesesteaks, to perfectly prepared grilled salmon, to lip-smacking fried catfish, to a delicious chef salad, to the grilled and fried chicken tenders, and even their famous French fries, everyone attending the event raved about the food.

The restaurant was staffed with friendly folks and the menu items were very affordable.

One thing is for certain….I’ll be back!!

From a restaurant already doing business, let’s switch gears to one that has yet to open. As a matter of fact, we have no clue as to what’s coming to the old Charles H. Jenkins property located on Memorial Drive in Ahoskie.

That location was owned by the Town of Ahoskie. It has been up for sale for about one year, but until just recently there were no serious offers. That changed when the town solicited two local realtors – Freeman Realty and Carolina Land and Home Realty – to list the property. Over the course of several months, two main bidders emerged. There were 12 upset bids entered until one emerged victorious. The property sold for a whopping $579,125 to NC Holding, LLC.

It was noted at the May 9 meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council that the buyer had expressed an interest in opening a “food establishment” at that location. But what that might be is unknown. A few weeks ago, I left a message for the person listed on the Articles of Organization for NC Holding LLC (as filed through the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office), but have yet to hear back.

And finally, I’m waiting – like so many here locally – for Bojangles to open their new restaurant at the same location where a fire destroyed that eatery late last year. I’m hoping that the new “Bo” will be like the old “Bo”, complete with the same menu items.

I read last week on WRAL’s website that Bojangles recently opened some locations that have a streamlined menu….without all-day breakfast (served until 2 p.m.) or bone-in chicken.

Thankfully, none of those locations are in North Carolina, so far, and I’m hopeful that Ahoskie will not become the first. I did learn that the chicken tenders remain highlighted on the streamlined menu. However, that menu no longer includes grits, Cajun pintos, or mashed potatoes and gravy. The drink selections at some of these new locations do include three milkshakes (chocolate, vanilla and Boberry).

Mr. Bojangles, whatever you plan for the Ahoskie location, don’t take away the spicy chicken supremes or the Cajun spiced fries.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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