Winston-Salem restaurant that opened as dream becomes popular spot because of community support

Small Business Spotlight

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Two women who are partners in life and in business say they took a risk opening Sweet Potatoes Restaurant in Winston-Salem.

When they were looking for space and financial support, not everyone believed in them.

Stephanie Tyson and Vivian Joiner say part of it was because they were women, and they were Black.

Their spot on Trade Street has been pretty popular over the past 18 years.

“When we opened, we had 13 tables, a really cool bar and we started out with a three-hour wait. So, for 14 years we had a three-hour wait,” Tyson said.

Tyson’s happy place is the kitchen.

She has cooked all over the world, but it’s at home where this Winston-Salem native’s heart is the happiest.

“I’m Southern. I’m from the South. This is what I know. I’ve done Italian I’ve done some French, but this is my soul food. It’s Southern, it’s what I am and I’m proud of,” Tyson said.

So you know people come to Sweet Potatoes for the fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese and shrimp and grits.

People who grab a seat are fed physically and emotionally.

They are also treated like family at the award-winning restaurant.

“Sometimes I stand back and I look and I see people there chit-chatting. They’re chit-chatting, their food comes, and they stop talking. That’s what you want. They’re concentrated and they’re enjoying themselves,” Tyson said.

The partners pour their heart and soul into everything to create a community of their own one dish at a time.

“I think the thing that makes Sweet Potatoes and Ms. Ora’s Kitchen such a special place is the staff we have are genuine. The food we have is made with love and care and the space we try to create is genuine, we welcome you to our home,” Joines said.

Ms. Ora’s Kitchen is a sister restaurant to Sweet Potatoes.

It is now temporarily closed so the women have added some of the dishes on the Sweet Potatoes menu.

Tyson told FOX8 Ms. Ora is her grandmother and it’s her fried chicken she serves up.

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