There are so many awesome locally owned restaurants here in the Lakelands that I just could NOT decide WHERE I would choose to write the very first 'Meet & Eat' article. But, this past Saturday, my daddy, unknowingly, would choose it for me. About 11:15am, I got a call from him, asking me if I wanted to go to lunch with him. The destination: ‘MOSS GROCERIES’. Hmmmm…..never heard of it. Daddy explained that it is a little restaurant just down the road, near Bradley, “A man I used to work with runs it-it’s his restaurant” , he added. So, off we went.
As you drive down the scenic country roads of Troy, SC, it is hard to miss this little country grocery store that is painted with a light, sky blue. It sits less than 50 yards from the road on the Callison Highway and even though the sign on the roof is weathered, tattered, and worn, it can still be read: MOSS GROCERIES. Located in Greenwood County, it is about 15 minutes either way from The City of Greenwood and/or The Town of McCormick( if you want to count traveling time) and, just a hop, skip and a jump from folks in Ninety Six, Kirksey, and Callison.
As you walk into the door, it is easy to see that this little country store is full of true, heartfelt, southern hospitality. It is in no way a ‘chain’ grocery or convenience store, it is a small family-owned ‘country’ store. No gas pumps. No lottery tickets. No hurry, no hustle, and no bustle.
Seeing the cheese being cut freshly from the round, wooden, cheese box brought back a flood of memories from my childhood. Now that’s REAL cheese to me! There were also a few fishing poles, roasted peanuts, lots of smiles, candy bars, several neatly stocked shelves of groceries, sounds of laughter , conversations, and the smell of country cookin’ in the air!
So, I just followed my nose, took a left, and then walked straight back to the restaurant. From the menu, you may choose a meat and two vegetables or a meat and three vegetables. I decided on the beef stew over rice, creamed corn, stewed tomatoes, and green beans. I didn’t know that the plate came with 2 homemade hushpuppies as well….BONUS! And, of course, I ordered some good ‘ol southern sweet iced tea to complete my meal. Papa (my daddy) ordered fried chicken, green beans, and macaroni & cheese pie.
Everything looked, smelled, and tasted delicious and nothing on the plate stood a chance of survival with this southern-born, southern-bred country girl! It was obvious that all of the food was prepared right there on-sight, by Mrs. Judy Moss, the owner's wife; and by Sandra Jenkins from McCormick. The fresh creamed corn….well it tasted as if it was just cut right off of the cob; tender beef in the beef stew with a not-too-thick and not-too-thin gravy draped over perfectly cooked rice; and the green beans….well they tasted just like my Maw Turner’s (my grandma on my mama’s side of the family), delish! The hushpuppies were tasty as well…an easy way to get their delicious cornbread in on the plate.
So, now that my belly was full, it was time to meet the folks eating lunch there…and EVERYONE was willing to take time to talk with me, as a matter of fact, most all of them offered me a seat at their table.
I started to make my way around the room and the first person I met was ‘Miss Peggy’ and Marvin Parkman. Seated together, I assumed they were a couple and asked them how long they had been eating here together; “Oh, we’re not together, we just met” said Peggy, “just sharing a table”, she added as she continued to eat her fried chicken.
“Yep, I didn’t know her ‘til today” laughed Mr. Parkman, “We all just sit where we want to sit and I don’t like to sit by myself…she said it was okay.” Mr. Parkman, who was born and raised in the Kirksey area nearby, tells me that he doesn’t get out a lot, but eats here whenever he can. As Mr. Parkman was paying his bill and getting ready to leave, I couldn’t help but overhear the owner tell the elderly man: “I put your supper in the seat of your car”; something that the customer had not ordered or asked for…..a gesture of kindness amongst neighbors. The thank you was understood as they shook hands and patted each other on the shoulder with a smile. Mr. Moss held the door for Mr. Parkman as he made his way out.
With a smile on my face I moved on to another table, where I found someone that I knew from my hometown: Mr. Gary Hepler. “I eat here a lot…been coming here for several years now” he shared, “I live in Callison now and the food here is good”. He had the fried chicken. After asking about his brother, Billy, whom my husband and I went to school with, it was on to the next table.”
A little guy by the name of Adrian Kelley was there with his grandfather, Willie Hearst. Adrian never missed a beat while eating, and never looked up for a picture….just kept on eating. “I was just riding down the road about a year ago, saw it, and stopped” explained Willie “been coming here ever since! I also heard about it at my barber shop”. They reside in Greenwood’s neighboring county of McCormick.
Bo and Faye Parks were the last customers that I met and talked with. I asked them what their favorite dish was/ is, “Well I like the pork roast” shared Faye “but they didn’t have that today”, so she chose the beef stew.
“All of it” added Bo with a huge chuckle “I like it all”. Mr. Parks also shared with me that he used to work at Monsanto with Moss as well and has been eating at the diner for several years. As I left the Parks’ table, I noticed that there were now 3 other customers who had come in to eat….now seated with Miss Peggy. Yes, with a smile and friendly conversation, she was, once again, sharing her table with others.
All of the customers said that they loved the sweet tea, the coffee, and the food. They would all also highly recommend this restaurant to others. NOT ONE negative comment came from any of the customers, and there is a rating of [A] posted on the front window.
Now it was time for me to meet the man who started it all: Mr. James ‘Bill’ Moss.
James Moss, better known to most as just ‘Moss’ explained that some people even call him ‘Bill’…though he is not sure of the reason why; but, he, of course, still answers to all. Retired since 1997 from Monsanto, a local fibers manufacturing plant, ‘Moss’ decided not only to sell groceries, but to prepare and sell short orders for lunch. His menu would include hamburgers, sausage dogs, and hot dogs. “Hot dogs is what really got me started” he added as that is what he is ‘famous’ for. Little did he know at that time that his business would grow into a meeting place for neighbors and full meals of country cookin’. “Then one day, it was pouring down rain” stated Moss as he shook his head and chuckled, “there were people lined up all in the store and even sittin’ out in their cars…wanting hot dogs! We didn’t have enough room to even hold ‘em all!” As he reminisced, he continued what seemed to be his favorite story of all time: “and then, one of the men waiting on his food was worried that I was gonna give outta food before I got to him!” Moss assured the man that he had enough food to feed them all. Shortly after that, that particular customer offered to help build on to the grocery store and also make it a restaurant. “I had already thought about adding on, and along with family, friends, and my son-in-law, we made it happen ourselves” smiled Moss proudly, “and that’s how it all happened. I got a young man who was in the National Guard to draw me up some plans and we did all the work that we could do and got it finished up.”
After we talked, he introduced me to his grandson, thanked us for coming, and shared a few memories of past times with my daddy. Moss then invited us back soon as he said goodbye with a smile and a firm handshake.
Even though I did not get to try the hot dogs that made Mr. Moss ‘famous’, I did see the kindness and generosity that would make a man like him a legend.
Shop local. Shop often. Shop Moss Groceries!
HOURS OF OPERATION FOR MOSS GROCERIES:
Breakfast: 6am -10:30am
Lunch from 11:30am-2:30pm
Short orders 3pm-8pm (famous hotdogs; hamburgers; & sausage dogs only)
Lunch: MEAT & THREE VEG: 11:30am-2:30pm
Sun: Short orders only from 1pm-5pm (famous hotdogs; hamburgers; & sausage dogs only)
MOSS GROCERIES is located at 5218 Callison Highway in Troy, SC. 29848
PHONE # for call-in or pick-up orders: 864-227-2518.