Retailer proprietor’s actually like for meals, folks constructed for excellent recipe

Greenwood County Councilwoman Edith Childs, left, presented a proclamation to Willie Thomas on Saturday, March 26, 2022 at the Promised Land Volunteer Fire Department in Greenwood, S.C. The Promised Land Community Association organized a parade and party for Willie, who has retired from running the grocery store in the community. At right is Willie's wife, Cinderella. Willie, who owned Promised Land Grocery for more than 50 years, recently sold the store, which has been a staple in the community — and is widely known for its fried chicken. Willie is the only person who knows the recipe.  (Greg K. Deal/The Index-Journal via AP)

Greenwood County Councilwoman Edith Childs, nonetheless left, provided a proclamation to Willie Thomas on Saturday, March 26, 2022 on the Promised Land Volunteer Hearth Part in Greenwood, S.C. The Promised Land Local people Affiliation organized a parade and celebration for Willie, who has retired from working the grocery retailer within the group. At proper is Willie’s spouse, Cinderella. Willie, who owned Promised Land Grocery for lots greater than 50 years, not way back marketed the retail outlet, which has been a staple within the group — and is vastly identified for its fried rooster. Willie is the one one who is aware of the recipe. (Greg Okay. Supply/The Index-Journal by the use of AP)


If you happen to drive on account of this small group in western Greenwood County, you’ll not receive a one stoplight. Really, about the one subject it’s possible you’ll nicely have found alongside this stretch of freeway is an previous nation retailer. And doubtless the nice and cozy odor of fried hen mounting up by means of the air.

Promised Land Grocery, alongside McCormick Freeway, has been a staple right here for added than 50 years. Willie Jake Thomas Jr. purchased the land in 1971.

“It was a small, wooden hold,” Willie reported. “It had gasoline tanks there. On the time, they weren’t promoting gasoline or something in any respect. There was simply an earlier gentleman sitting there hoping to market some factor. He didn’t do considerably with it. Quickly after I bought the place, he simply disappeared.”

Willie had simply $400 proper after he bought the store. He took that income and bought groceries to placed on the cupboards. An individual very important merchandise he purchased was sweet. He speedily recognized out how you can entice patrons. It was by way of children’ candy tooths.

“That’s what designed the shop, buying younger youngsters seem in for distinct kinds of sweet,” talked about Willie, who served as Greenwood County EMS director for 25 a few years proper till retiring in 2006. “They would seem nearly each time they might get a nickel or a dime. I retained a complete lot of varied sweet. After which they began off bringing their mother and pa. Which is the way it simply saved creating. I’d simply take a minimal money I’d make and put it again once more into the hold, and we simply stored probably.”

Promised Land, began in 1870 as part of a land resettlement software program for freed slaves, is a largely African American group nonetheless, Willie’s spouse, Cinderella, reported it’s attending to be way more numerous. The group is bucking the pattern of “white flight,” as individuals from distinct cultures are producing their residences on this article. The grocery store has meant deal to folks immediately via the a number of years, Cinderella stated.

“It’s been a staple in the neighborhood,” talked about Cinderella, who’s a historical past trainer at Greenwood Important College. “The initially factor all folks talks about is that hen.”

Willie has the one recipe for his famend fried hen — Cinderella doesn’t even realize it — and he retains that answer within the most secure location: his head. He acknowledged he could a single day publish down the recipe, and he’s nonetheless considering of his potentialities for a way he could presumably go on to give you his hen to folks now that he has purchased the hold.

“I’ve acquired a merchandise with the rooster that they clarify to me is virtually nationwide,” Willie acknowledged. “Individuals seem from distinctive locations. After they return, they get a load of rooster with them.”

As for the hen recipe, Willie laughed when requested wherever he obtained it. He reported folks notify him his hen tastes significantly better than practically something they’ve skilled from eating institutions. He frequented Allendale a number of a very long time again and loved some fried hen he picked up there. He got here family and started tinkering with distinctive recipes till ultimately he uncovered simply the correct a single.

“I stored mixing and mixing until I obtained it appropriate,” Willie defined of his hen breading.

Willie ultimately choices to retire for wonderful following working fairly a couple of hrs every particular person day, seven instances a 7 days on the retailer. He concepts to decide on the vacation he promised himself to accumulate following retiring from his EMS job — and he hopes to do a complete lot of fishing.

Hari Om II these days procured the retail outlet and is reworking it. Willie doesn’t put together to provide Om his hen recipe, however he acknowledged he needs to help Om be thriving.

“I’m prone to allow this dude get began off as considerably as I can,” Willie claimed. “I don’t want him to fall quick. I don’t need to see any particular person are unsuccessful. I’m heading to help him get began out executing what ever he needs to do. I’m not offering up the recipe appropriate now. I’ve had a considerable amount of people seem and say, ‘Hey, you might be correcting to close. Are you able to give me your recipe?’”

Cinderella claimed, “We’re hoping he (Willie) will changeover into anything with the rooster. We’re making an attempt to get him to supply his breading. I have no idea if he’s going to do this or not. This retirement element is proceed to new to him.”

Willie and Cinderella have achieved so much further within the group than simply present hen, whereas. Every weekend, they cooked a few dozen meals stuff merchandise for spend money on, and any time anybody from the local people died, Willie would current a meals to partner and kids prospects.

“Some women and men couldn’t maintain out proper till it was time to offer,” Willie claimed of his weekend meals selections. “They’d be in line earlier than time to offer. They’d stand there looking out on the meals since we’d place it on the market so they may see it.”

Willie and Cinderella have been married for 27 yrs, proudly owning achieved on the Greenwood County Courthouse, precisely the place she was employed with the county on the time, and his EMS workplace operated out of the creating. The pair have lived in a house beside the retailer for a number of a number of years.

Willie defined the retail retailer has been “a solution” for the local people — “simply to be able to seem there and retailer and never need to go to Greenwood. I attempted to carry a unbelievable extensive number of stuff.”

Cinderella stated Promised Land is “a modest metropolis inside of a bigger metropolis.”

“We’ve noticed a great deal of the young children born enhance up, go off spots, then arrive again,” Cinderella claimed. “The very first issue they appear for is the rooster.”

Willie acknowledged a number of people have nonetheless to take heed to he offered the store.

“They’re looking for that meals that we place on the market,” Willie defined. “On Saturday and Sunday, we skilled so quite a few women and men coming in. We had simply beaucoups of individuals immediately come off the street. I didn’t need to market. Time period of mouth obtained all of it.”

On March 26, the Promised Land Group Affiliation placed on a shock generate-by parade for Willie, to rejoice his contributions and thank him for his companies to folks and different people. Following the parade, mates and family members associates filed into the Promised Land Volunteer Fireplace Workplace to share a meal and tales.

Greenwood County Council member Edith Childs introduced a proclamation to Willie.

“I do know what you essentially imply to me as a buddy,” Childs acknowledged. “You don’t know what you essentially imply to me — and to this group.”

Jan Williams, president of the Promised Land Local people Affiliation, acknowledged he’s been essential to the group given that he’s provided positions. Oh, and that rooster.

“It was nice,” Williams reported. “It was one thing that, whenever you bit into it, it was like, ‘Wow!’”

Promised Land Grocery has extra than 80 Google testimonials with an regular rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. People from throughout the nation have opined about Willie’s hen, quite a few of them stumbling on the retailer in the midst of street visits.

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