Hillbilly Grocery is 'the real McCoy'

By Paul Viau | Jun 29, 2012
Photo by: File photo COME AND SIT A SPELL — Maggie Valley's Hillbilly Grocery is just what the valley needed. Above is owner Bari Weinstein, left, and employee Lela Evans.

Editor's note: The Guide offers a hearty apology to Paul, whose column was accidentally cut off last week. You can read the column in its entirety — not to mention his past columns and all of The Guide's stories — for free at www.themountaineer.com.

As y’all know by now, I didn’t grow up 'round these parts. I hail from the suburbs of Denver, Colorado — where the only hillbillies were on TV. But there were plenty of them.

In Cartoonland (before it was a website) hillbillies frequently turned up — as Elmer Fudd (looking as much like a revenuer as a hunter) chasing Bugs Bunny through the South. Or when poor, defenseless Betty Boop was on a road trip. Or when Rocky the Flying Squirrel did a "fly-by" of a moonshine jug.

Later in my teenage years, all of America embraced “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and the rags to riches story of the Clampetts. I remember (not surprisingly) having a thing for Elly May and her Daisy Dukes. And, like everyone else who grew up watching that popular TV series, I can still remember, word for word, the opening song — “The Ballad of Jed Clampett":

“Come and listen to my a story of a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed. Then one day he was shootin’ at some food, and up from the ground come a bubblin’ crude. (I know you’re singing along with me right now.)

“Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea.”

Well the first thing you know, ole Jed’s a millionaire. Kinfolk said, “Jed move away from there.” They said Carolina is the place you ought to be, so they loaded up the truck and moved to Mag-Valley. Maggie, that is.

OK, I might have changed that part. But California is near bankruptcy right now, and there are plenty of hillbillies ‘round these parts. Especially now that Maggie Valley has its own personalized grocery — Hillbilly Grocery.

Did you know? — Jerry Scoggins did the vocal for the for the Beverly Hillbillies theme song, with bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs doing the backup on banjo. And if they were alive today, I think you’d find them right comfortable "pickin’ and grinnin'" on the porch of Maggie Valley’s Hillbilly Grocery.

The first time I passed the whimsical Hillbilly Grocery sign, I was instantly transported back to those hillbilly influences early in my life. Then word-of-mouth advertising kicked in.

“Have you tried their hot lunch plates? … They’re great.” “Boy, I had the best steak last night … bought it hand-cut to order at Hillbilly Grocery.”  “They have the best breakfast biscuits, but you gotta get there early in the morning.”

Well, I work up quite an appetite at Maggie Valley Club every day, so I visited Hillbilly Grocery. The "word of mouth" was spot on, and as an added bonus, owner Bari Weinstein is a real character. I have discovered that Bari and her buddy Lela Evans serve up such great food (and gracious service) that Hillbilly Grocery seems a lot like home.

When Bari is out of biscuits, she’ll happily make me a custom breakfast sandwich — my choice of anything I want. For lunch, she’ll whip up a salad to go with her great soup of the day. When I had a taste for curry, she made me curry chicken salad.

And where else (especially in Maggie Valley) can you find tabbouleh as a side dish?

Bari has packaged up box lunches and kept them warm for to take home for dinner. On Memorial Day, she made a box lunch for me and Carol for our motorcycle picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was her "mother-inspired" chicken salad, potato salad and surprise apple turnover.

I could go on and on about Hillbilly Grocery, but, alas, I have run out of space.

The next time you find yourself needing just about anything in Maggie Valley — from a livermush biscuit (Now, that’s another story!) to Elvis Presley cupcakes, stop by 3434 Soco Road, or call ahead at 926-2626 to see what Bari and Lela are cookin’ up. Hillbilly Grocery is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ever’ day.

And if you have a hankerin’ you can just sit and sip a cold one with the locals. Hillbilly Grocery also has an on-premises ABC beer permit.

This is my kind of grocery.