Granny's pies sweeten buffet at new Cutter's

September 27, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

Laura "Granny" Wilson has found the key to longevity: Make 38 pies a day from scratch, plus some cobblers and a cake or two.

"If you think young, you stay young," said Wilson. "I like to keep going. If you sat me down and I didn't do anything, I wouldn't be here long."

Wilson, 82, makes her baked delights at Cutter's Homestyle Restaurant in Danville, but she learned how to make her old-fashioned desserts at her mother's knee growing up on a farm.

"When I was 11 years old, I could cook everything I wanted to cook. My mother taught me well."

Wilson is called "Granny" by customers and staff at Cutter's as well as two of her grandchildren who work there. One of her grandchildren, Shane Lynn, manages the restaurant, which opened in August at a new location, 1027 Hustonville Road, after operating for a year just up the road at 711 S. Fourth St.


She has no recipes for her pies, which include butterscotch, chocolate coconut, peanut butter, raisin, coconut cream, chess, and lemon merinque, but her taste buds tell her when they're right.

"That's what people come here for ... to get pies," Wilson said. "They'll take two or three pieces at a time.

"We had some people down here from Lexington and they said you can go anywhere and buy homemade cake, but you can't go anywhere and buy homemade pies."

"A lot of younger people don't know how to make pies," said Lisa Cox, an assistant manager, who joked that she is an "adopted" granddaughter of the pie-maker.

"Most any woman should know how to make pies, especially me," said Wilson, who raised her family on a farm.

An all-you-can-eat, buffet-style restaurant

Cutter's is an all-you-can-eat, buffet-style restaurant, and customers are free to load up on pies, but pies are not all the buffet has to offer. The home-cooking extends to the restaurant's meats, vegetables and other items, Lynn said.

"Our food in general is all home-cooking," Lynn said. "A lot of the food we fix is made from scratch. What we want to be is a good home-cooking restaurant."

The restaurant specializes in what Cox called "comfort food." If patrons are counting calories, they'd better just order the salad bar.

"We don't worry about calories: there's butter in the mashed potatoes and sour cream in the casserole," she said, referring to a potato-and-squash dish that "Granny" makes when she has a little extra time.

In fact, a lot of the dishes diners might enjoy at Cutter's are the kind you might find at an old-fashioned potluck dinner. On Sundays, the buffet includes "Banana Croquettes," which are bananas rolled in mayonnaise and then rolled in crushed peanuts.

"They're hard to keep out on the bar," Lynn said. "You put a platter out and it's gone."

Lack of adequate parking forced the restaurant's move up the street into a building that previously housed an auto parts store. But the restaurant, which seats 150 in the main dining room and another 47 in a small dining room in the back for private parties, doesn't look like a parts store anymore. It's decorated in a colorful, country style that also showcases some of the gift items that are sold at the restaurant.

"It's a family atmosphere," Lynn said. "It feels homey when you sit in here."

A "big" breakfast buffet

In addition to lunch and supper, Cutter's has a "big" breakfast buffet, Cox said, and it has weekend specials that include a seafood buffet on Friday night, ribs and steaks on Saturday night and a Sunday lunch that features old-fashioned dishes such as turkey and dressing or fried chicken. In the evenings, the restaurant has a "kid's bar" that includes such items as pizza, hot dogs, onion rings and chicken nuggets.

The restaurant's previous location is being redecorated and the parking lot is being expanded for use by groups for banquets and parties, Cox said. "People just need to tell us what they want to do," she said. "We're flexible."

As for "Granny," she has no plans to quit working.

She said her daughter, Cutter's owner Shirley Bachelor, often expresses concern that her mother might be working too hard.

"I tell her 'I want to do it. If I'm working too hard. I'll let you know,'" Wilson said.

"I'm in good health. There's no reason why I should stay home by myself."

She said she's been working in various family businesses, including a wallpaper store and another restaurant, for 17 years.

"I'll do anything to help my children," she said.

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