Just off of East Main Street in Jamestown, a line spills out the front door of SidWill’s Café & Catering, onto the patio, and through the intricate wrought-iron gate that marks the entrance to home-cooked heaven. Folks from across town and around Guilford County pile into the restaurant for exactly what the sign on the front door promises: premium comfort food.
SidWill’s specializes in Southern classics: “broasted” chicken you can smell the second you pass through the gates; burgers stacked high with onions, lettuce, bacon, tomato, and cheese; and cornbread that sprinkles a garnish of crumbs onto the mountain of mac ’n’ cheese on your plate as you take a bite.
Their customers come for Southern sides and homemade chicken that falls off the bone. photograph by Stacey Van Berkel
Ask anyone waiting in that line, and they’ll tell you two very important things: Come back for the bread pudding special on Fridays, and clear your Wednesday afternoons for Chicken Pie Day.
“We have some clients who joke, ‘It’s not Wednesday; it’s Chicken Pie Day,’ ” says Events Manager Stephanie Mason, daughter of Head Chef Sid Young, the owner. “And you need to get here in time to get it,” she says. The 50 pies they make each day in the fall and winter almost always sell out.
So what goes into a SidWill’s chicken pie? “A lot of love,” Stephanie says. “And chicken.”
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Sid knows the important of those two ingredients in his café. As he stands in the kitchen at SidWill’s — named for his father, Sidney, and his grandfather Will — prepping for the daily rush that seems to last from open to close, he’s surrounded by a whole lot of chicken and love. Daughter Wendy Broussard just moved back home from Louisiana, to her father’s delight, and is responsible for the customer-favorite banana pudding cake and other baked goods, as well as filling in as head chef when Sid is away. Wife Cynthia is the assistant events manager, while Stephanie handles emails, schedules catering events, and spreads the SidWill’s name to the few people in the area who don’t already know it.
The SidWill’s family — (from left) Arabella and Stephanie Mason, Sid and Cynthia Young, and Wendy Broussard. photograph by Stacey Van Berkel
Finally, there’s Manager Kim McLaughlin, no blood relation but no less a member of the family. Miss Kim greets each customer as they walk in, making folks feel as though she’s inviting them into her home for a family dinner. “I would say with confidence that she knows just about every customer who walks through the door,” Sid says. “And they know her.” If you don’t yet, you’ll be fast friends by the time you’ve finished your meal.
For many customers, SidWill’s is a reminder of the rich, authentic cooking traditions that they grew up with. “We wanted the food to remind them of their mother or grandmother being in the kitchen,” Sid says. That warmth and care are the same key ingredients that make all of SidWill’s dishes irresistible. “If you like food, you can tell the personality of the person who fixed it,” Sid says. “The folks in the kitchen enjoy being in the kitchen. And that comes through.”
To commemorate our 90th anniversary, we’ve compiled a time line that highlights the stories, contributors, and themes that have shaped this magazine — and your view of the Old North State — using nine decades of our own words.