WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- When you first step foot into Winston Salem's longtime soul food sensation Sweet Potatoes, you just know it's going to be some good eating.
"I stand back there and look at people. I can see into the dining room from the back and just hear all the chatter and then when the food comes, it's really quiet. I love that," smiles owner-chef Stephanie Tyson. "We just meet some really cool people in here, we really do."
Tyson is the whiz in the back of the house. Vivian Joiner runs the front of the house. It's why regulars say the service is just as satisfying as the tasty bites. The pair happened to begin hiring people for their wait staff who have had what they call a "colorful past." People who have served time for three months, up to 15 years.
"We just believe in giving back and second chances. They're a motley crew, but what a great bunch. They have a desire to be here and a desire to take care of our people here. I'd put them up against anyone in the business," said Joiner.
Tyson used to be a singer and an actor in larger cities. She supported herself by working in restaurants.
"One day, the chef just quit. I was doing some managing and had to step in. I was really irritated at being put in that position, but you just never know what's going to happen. I loved it. It inspired me to go to culinary school and here we are. I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing, it's my passion," Tyson said.