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.
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.