Keeping it in the #8216;family#8217;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

COURTLAND—When four local ladies decided they were ready to delve into a business venture, they knew that they would offer the public something different— a comfortable, casual atmosphere where people could feel at home.

Southern Sisters Bakery & Eatery exemplifies southern hospitality. Located at 22076 Main St. in Courtland, the historic building has been extensively renovated.

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the eatery offers light breakfast and lunches.

Home-baked items such as cream cheese pastries, muffins, ham-egg-and-cheese croissants and bagels, and cinnamon rolls are on the morning menu, along with fresh specialty coffees.

Lunch items include soups, salads, sandwiches and a hot-meal daily special.

The Southern Sisters are also available to take orders for showers, receptions, business meetings and reunions, where they will provide the appetizers for pick up. Private parties may also book reservations to eat in at the establishment.

“We wanted to offer something healthier than fried burgers,” said co-owner Ramona Rich of Drewryville, who will be managing the establishment and handling the bookkeeping.

Rich and Peggy Jones of Carrsville will be preparing lunches. Jones will also be responsible for planning menus and dinner parties. Her daughter, Samantha Jones of Courtland, will serve as in-house caterer and baker. Peggy’s sister, LeeAnn Alexander of Courtland, who owned the building, will be an events planner and handle public relations for the business.

“We have candies, cookies and cheese straws in the display case that will be for sale,” said Peggy. “We hope to find a cake decorator or two so we can have cakes specially made as well.”

There is wireless Internet capability and two formal dining areas, the Red Room and the Williamsburg Room.

Outdoor tables add to the charm of the building and property, which was once a farm owned by the Kindred family in the late 1800s.

“The Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the property in 1889, so the building served as a church for quite some time,” said Alexander. The structure, known as the “Joyner House” for many years, has been historically preserved as much as possible.

When they began renovations, the ceiling was “literally falling down,” according to Alexander, and at one point, they didn’t think they were going be able to restore the hardwood floors.

The co-owners attest to the fact that the project became a “family affair.”

Ramona’s husband, Kenneth; Peggy’s husband, David; and Alexander’s parents, Phyllis and Gilbert Story of Edenton, N.C., were all instrumental in renovating the property.

“We’ve also been blessed with good friends like James Green of Courtland,” said Alexander.

Peggy added, “We thank God, too. We have prayed and prayed. He is the reason that things kept falling together.”

Some of the counters are made from the old doors in the house, and the rooms are decorated with old photos, antiques and artwork by local painter Martha Gibson.

Alexander noted that Southern Sisters is not a tearoom, and therefore farmers, contractors and others are welcome to come as they are.

“It’s very casual,” she said about the atmosphere. “We want everyone to be comfortable.”

The “sisters” hope to expand business hours in the future to include dinner and possibly an oyster bar.

For more information, call 653-9070.