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Home Entrepreneurship 103-Year-Old Black Woman Still Runs Pie Shop She Opened In 1952

103-Year-Old Black Woman Still Runs Pie Shop She Opened In 1952

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Mary Woodruff and husband James opened Woodruff’s Café & Pie Shop in 1952 and the 103-year-old still helps run the business. At that time there were very few Black owned businesses in Monroe, Virginia, a small town not very far from Lynchburg. Mary and James built a café and an apartment upstairs, which they lived in. It was the start to a ride that very few could have ever predicted, a ride that’s still moving.

Mary Woodruff

Jet Magazine began publishing around the time Mary and James opened their pie shop. Jet Magazine is no longer printing and was sold by Johnson Publishing Company in 2016. Woodruff’s Café & Pie Shop, however, still sells about 75 handmade pies on any given Saturday. It hasn’t been a single, smooth ride, however– after 30 years in business, the shop closed in 1982. Woodruff’s daughter, Angela Scott, however, reopened the business in 1998 with her husband, desiring to keep the family tradition alive. Keeping the tradition alive, however, wouldn’t be as easy as Angela had hoped.

When Angela first reopened, business was pretty slow. She mostly sold sandwiches and customers just weren’t responding, frankly. “There were days that we didn’t have a customer, maybe one or two,” she admits. Angela had serious thoughts about closing the business, as any entrepreneur might be inclined to do. With her mother’s encouragement, Angela continued to press on and also, got back to the family staple of pies: things quickly began to change.

Today there is a sign for “Pie Shop” outside and at 103-years-old, Mary Woodruff is still helping to run the shop. Scores of businesses have come and gone and yet Woodruff’s Café & Pie Shop is still churning out sweet goodness, each day. Good things happen to those who wait but in this case, very sweet things happen to those who bake.

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D'Juan Hopewell
I care about Black Power. Period. Currently working on creating jobs and funding new startups on the South Side of Chicago and writing here and there at HopewellThought.com. Follow me @HopewellThought.
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46 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to post my company Spanky’s Pickles, LLC. We are a gourmet pickle company specializing in fundraising for schools and PTO’s Nationwide. We offer 30+ gourmet vegetable and fruit products celebrating a 50/50 revenue split with school, club or PTA/PTO

    • They haven’t been in business for 103 years. The owner is 103. They have been in business for 52 years, which is still an amazing feat. 🙂

  2. These success stories continue to feed my hunger of doing for ‘self and helping those in need collecting my own pay check- Namaste!🙋🏽‍♀️

  3. I wonder if they have considered expanding their business outside of the walls of the cafe… online sales, festivals, holiday & event preorders, etc.

  4. This is a great story it caught my eye and I continued to read a lot of hard work for many years family owned that’s exceptional in my eyes keep up the outstanding job. I will share this with others keep doing what you do.
    Teresa

    • Off and on for 58 years. My my my. May you have a chain of successful pie shoppes for at least a half-century. I am a sucker for Cherry pie. May God bless each and every one of you. Be happy!

  5. This is amazing b/c The Grandmother still has her stake in the business plus it’s a blessing she’s living. I’m very glad to know this family kept on pushing & now can look back & be proud they didn’t give up. To GOD be the glory. Hey…….. I’m originally from Danville,Va.. Not far from you’ll. Thanks for sharing & the next time I’m through that way I’ll know where to get good eatin’ from.

  6. This an awesome story! It should be shared, especially with African Americans! It should inspire potential entrepreneurs! Thanks.

  7. We have thousands of Black Business Owners. I own Executive Shirts in Detroit. Our website is executiveshirts-force.com. I feature my sons and grandson as the models. Take a look at the website and feel free to call in your orders for faster service.

  8. God Bless this sweet woman!! Looking great for 103 yrs BLESSED!!! I would like to know can I order online for delivery?? I would love to support BLACK OWNED but I live on Long Island New York. Keep doing a great job😘😘😘

  9. I would love to purchase a pie but I reside in MD. Do you ship? If not the next time i visit my mom in South Boston, VA I’m going to stop by your pie shop. I love to support black owned businesses. Blessings!!!

  10. My last name is Woodruff, and my grandfathers name was US Woodruff from Oklahoma. I would love to buy a pie from you.
    Thank you
    Michelle Woodruff

  11. Their pies are awesome and, if I recall correctly, they also make fresh peach milkshakes when peaches are in season in that area. If can make the trip, you won’t regret it!

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