Business of the Month: Winston-Salem’s Queen of Soul…Food

November 22
00:45 2018

By Busta Brown

The Business of the Month is META’S RESTAURANT, 102 W. THIRD STREET, SUITE LP5, in Winston-Salem.

This year Meta’s Restaurant Sidewalk Café will be open for Thanksgiving.  I found that out this past Sunday, Nov. 18, when I stopped by my Business of the Month, Meta’s Restaurant Sidewalk Café in Winston-Salem.

When I walked inside, sitting close to the door was a handsome gentleman wearing a blazer decked out with medals, stars and stripes. “I come to Meta’s at least once a week, usually on Sundays. I love it, it’s the best soul food restaurant in town,” the gentleman said about Meta’s. The gentleman was General James R. Gorham, a 38-year military veteran and the first African-American General for the North Carolina National Guard. “This is the best soul food restaurant in North Carolina, to tell you the truth. I love the chicken wings and her pork chops, they’re to kill for.” Gen. Gorham smiled and continues praising Meta’s. “I don’t mind waiting in line because the food is worth it in my book.”

I was a little intimidated. He was the first general I’ve met and he’s very humble. I thanked Gen. Gorham for his services and sacrifice for our country. As I made my way around the restaurant, I bumped into another strong yet humble pillar in the Winston-Salem community. “Busta Brown, how are you doing my brotha, it’s always good to see you.” It was Rev. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church. I asked Rev. Mendez how he was doing. He smiled big. “Man, I’m doing great – if I said otherwise I’d be lying.” He was looking sharp, but wasn’t ashamed about getting his grub on. “The food is fantastic and Meta is like family. I’ve followed her ever since she was on Akron Drive, so I’ve watched her bloom over the years, and you’re not going to beat the food, that’s for sure,” boasted Mendez. I asked what he was grubbing on. “She knows my favorite: oxtails, rice, chicken wings, collard greens, and mac ‘n’ cheese, just like home.” He was with some friends and they were enjoying their meal, so I thanked him for his time and then continued making my rounds.

As I strolled through Meta’s looking for friendly faces to interview, it was extremely hard to choose, because that would be everyone, including the staff. I put businessman and volunteer at Meta’s, Andrew Dinkins, on the spot by interviewing him as he worked the register. “I come down and help Meta out when she hits me up. I love it, the atmosphere, the people, everything,” he said and then he had to cash out a customer. “You enjoy your meal?” he asked a family of four. “Absolutely. Always,” the father responds. Andrew handled the interview and working with style and grace. He poured the family some of Meta’s famous Kool-Aid to go and then got back to me. “As you can see, it’s a good Christian environment, a very nice vibe.”

Then I met the gorgeous Toni Hairston who has been coming to Meta’s after church for over ten years. “I love it here because the food is home cooked, everything is from scratch. She puts her heart and a lot of love into this food, and I love someone that takes their time with cooking. I love her corn muffins, meatloaf, baked and fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, I love everything here!” said Hairston. The young woman sitting with Toni didn’t want to be on camera, but said she’s been eating at Meta’s for 20 years.

As Tony McKinnon was walking out the door, he shared a very telling comment. “My wife and I have been coming here for over 20 years, and we always joke with Meta about not doing social media at all, so you know the food is great because she built her business on word of mouth.”

I finally caught up with Winston-Salem’s Queen of Soul … Food. Meta says the magic to her success is authentic soul food. “We don’t use processed food. We’re still cutting up potatoes, chopping up greens, and our meats are not frozen. We shop every day for our meats and our meatloaf doesn’t have additives,” said the businesswoman.

The best way I can describe the menu at Meta’s: imagine if heaven had a soul food restaurant. But Meta credits the number one reason for her success to “my customers, they are loyal. They keep me inspired. They tell me what they like and I listen.” She said the first thing you will experience when you walk in the door is “hospitality and I guarantee you find someone here eating that you know and a lot of people bump into each other that haven’t seen each other in years.”

This year Meta’s Restaurant Sidewalk Café will be open for Thanksgiving. “I listen to my customers and this is what they asked for.” She also listens to her heart. “I do lots of community work with churches, and I always help the homeless. If someone comes in here in need, I will give them a meal.” She quickly said jokingly,” … We know the ones that really need help and we help them.”

What does she say to her staff about the importance of customer service? “My true words are, ‘I’m not going to hell over this food, so you make sure you give these customers and treat them right.’”

Go to The Chronicle’s YouTube channel at Winstonsalem Chronicle to see more of my fun and exciting interviews at Meta’s Restaurant Sidewalk Café. Meta’s Restaurant Sidewalk Café is located at 102 West Third St., Suite Lp5, in Winston-Salem. They are open Monday – Friday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.-4 p.m. For more information call (336) 750-0811.

Companies interested in becoming a Business of the Month should apply at This feature is sponsored by the Winston-Salem Branch of the NAACP, Winston-Salem Urban League, Triad Minority Business Expo, Forsyth Technical Community College Small Business Center, Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce, and The Chronicle.

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