“People call me Elizabeth or Mama. The soul food restaurant with a family member didn’t take off that well in Mobile. An opportunity came up in this Chevron gas station in Fairhope and I have been here for four years. They like the soul food in Fairhope and this was a blessing. I was in a hard place and was about to lose my home. I had no money and no product. The Lord put me here and it is easy to drive the 45 minutes each way. I run this by myself and everything fell into place like it was meant to be. I love my customers and they are helping me grow.
Cooking is a passion. It has never been a job. I have been a nurse, a bail bondsman, and worked at convenience stores. Those were jobs and I trained my kids to work. I had a janitorial business and they were my crew. We cleaned all of the First National Bank buildings. I sat with a private patient from 11 at night until 7 in the morning. I got the boys off to school, then went to the nursing home from 8 to 2. I fed the boys after school, then we cleaned buildings. We came home and I took a little nap before I went to care for my patient. I would nap a little more while my patient slept. I don’t know how I made it through that, but you do what you have to do to take care of your kids. My sister was an addict and my mother and I raised her children. My granddaughter was the valedictorian of Blount High School this year and we are very close. She is going into law and is going to make a good lawyer. She was born on Oct. 24. My birthday was Oct. 25. My daughter tried to hold her until my birthday. I told her, ‘Girl, let that baby go. I have to get to the casino.’
I go to the casino and play Bingo. I once won $56,000 and gave most of it away. My mama always told me I would never be rich because I would give it all away. She was right. Everyone had money and I didn’t. I should have paid my car off. When I get something and can bless someone, it is an answered prayer. Lord let me help someone. The joy is not the money, it’s what money can do. If I can pay a bill and keep you from worrying, that is what I am going to do. God puts people in your path to keep you moving. I have fallen on my face so many times. There are a few things I wish I could go back and change, but not many.
I pray over the food I cook every day. Psalms 23 is my lift up. As the grits bubble in the morning, I pray ‘God is great, God is good, let us thank him for this food.’ I get up at 2:30 every morning and walk my dog. I stop by Walmart and get here about 4:30 a.m. to start breakfast. I make grit bowls with bacon, egg and cheese, or sausage egg and cheese. Every Friday I make ribs. I try to make something different for lunch every day. I leave here at 4 p.m. and go to the store and start preparing for tomorrow today. When football season starts, I will cook every day. I do 18 flavors of wings. Officer Miller in the Fairhope police makes the pound cakes like grandma used to make. I am not a baker because I don’t like measuring things. I do like my grandma did, with a pinch of this and a dab of that. My mother was a single parent and my grandmother watched us. She taught us how to cook, iron, sew, and mend.
The name is Soulful Deli. God blesses you to bless someone else. I pray for people who come through here. People cry on my shoulder and I cry with them. You don’t have to be a minister to be in the ministry. People just need a hug, a smile, or a kind word. I give out all of that with my food and my customers give it right back.”