Just Good Food: A Lifetime Legacy

The sun slowly rises. Shadows cast blanket the dew-covered ground. The clouds illuminate with glory. The world wakes up. But she has been awake for hours, just like every morning for the past sixty years. Every day, Ida Jean Mayhew witnesses the beautiful symphony of daybreak.

There’s no need for an alarm. After sixty years, 12:00a.m. has become her routine. However, even at eighty-eight, the routine doesn’t seem mundane. It is her purpose and her calling.

After a 5:00p.m. bedtime, she wakes up at midnight, starting her day with a five-mile ride on her stationary bike, something she’s done “her entire married life.” After getting ready, she climbs in her white Lincoln Town Car and heads to open her restaurant, The Goody Goody Omelet House, under the moonlit sky.

Opening in the dark

Opening in the dark

Mrs. Mayhew carries on a legacy started long ago by her husband, Roscoe Mayhew, known affectionately as RB. His portrait still hangs on the wall, and she’s not ashamed to admit that, as she prepares their small restaurant every morning, she still talks to him.

“I still give him a salute when I come in, ‘I’m here!’ After fifty-six years of marriage, you can’t help but think about someone every day; even if they’re gone.”

After four years of cooking in the Navy, RB married Ida and started their first restaurant, Mayhew’s Barbecue, in 1946 just outside of Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter, Vernon Rudolph, the founder of Krispy Kreme and a good friend, approached RB with a business opportunity. Knowing that opportunity often looks like hard work, they took a chance. They went on to own the first official Krispy Kreme franchise in 1949, opening three franchises before they sold back to corporate in the mid-1970s.

In 1977, they bought a small, one acre tract off of Market Street and opened the Goody Goody Omelet House.

“We just wanted to have a small place that the family could operate; small and simple,” Mrs. Mayhew said as she formed the hamburger meat into small paddies for the day’s patrons. I stood watching her at work as I listened to her words. She perfectly measured each quarter-pound of beef as we talked, yet she kept her eyes in constant contact with mine. She knew exactly what she was doing.

Although she’s extremely humble and hesitant to admit it, the Goody Goody is everything but small and simple.

Those who have had the pleasure of visiting know the orange roof of the Goody Goody is a staple in Wilmington, North Carolina. True to their motto, “Just Good Food,” they offer Southern soul fare with a smile and a side of encouragement.

This is their legacy.

My first experience at the Goody was in a baby carrier over thirty years ago. It was a day I certainly don’t remember, but Mrs. Mayhew does. As we continued to talk she said, “I can still see you in that bassinet on the table.” It was, is, and always will be a tradition. Since then, my countless visits have spanned four generations; my grandfather, my father, myself, and now, my boys.

As I sat in the familiar surroundings with my three-year-old, I thought, Mrs. Mayhew’s story is unique, a lost testimony to a generation that is soon to be gone and values that seem to be disappearing. Her story needs to be told; the Goody has something to say.

Like a sacred shrine that only holds thirty-five at a time, the small brick building is a refuge for those seeking good food and good company. One patron quipped, “It’s one of the only places I’ve ever been where I can go alone and not be alone.” Its foundation goes beyond the bricks; it’s one of hard work, unbending morals, and unshakable faith.

In a world where employees come and go for the next best opportunity, Mrs. Mayhew has managed to keep hers, some for well over twenty years. Dave, for example, started washing dishes at fourteen. He’s forty-one now and manages the open grill as if it were an art form. Fred, who is nearing twenty-three years, takes care of the pancakes, waffles, toast, and biscuits.

I asked Mrs. Mayhew about her employees’ loyalty:

“I’m good to those that are good to me.”

The conversations that have graced those walls, I know, are only part of the story. The smell of the bacon on the grill adds to the ambiance that is created every time you walk through the door. As ticket orders fly across the counter, sliding down the metal ticket holder, the drone of open conversations and the sizzle of the burgers blend into one big story.

A story everyone wants to be a part of. The line outside the door proves it.

Legacy

Mrs. Mayhew’s legacy is unique because it allows others to create their own. Her 2:00a.m. commitment has allowed those who enter to enjoy the company and conversations the establishment brings. With a smile all her own, she invests in her customers and calls her regulars by name. “Whatchya’ll like?” is her familiar call as she grabs her pencil and scratches orders on her slender, white notepad.

When I asked her why she keeps doing it at eighty-five years old, she replied,

“I just love people. Retire? What’s that? My daddy always taught me the value of working for yourself. As long as I’m here, I’ll be here.”

When I asked her if she knew the impact the restaurant had on so many people, she simply responded, “I just want them to get good food.” And when I asked her what it means to her, she answered firmly, “I wouldn’t sell it.”

“There isn’t any amount of money in the world that you would give up for is there?” I already knew the answer.

“You can’t put a price on something like this.”

As soon as I heard those words come out of her small, weathered frame, I knew Mrs. Mayhew was telling me a story. She embodies everything this book is about. She exudes living richly.

It is her legacy.

You can’t help but have a special bond with someone whose dedication is carried out so unconditionally. In the end, when richness is achieved, it seems effortless—a thing of beauty. I can’t stand to think of the day when her sweet smile and perfectly permed hair won’t greet me with the hug and kiss I’ve become so accustomed. However, I know it will, as I think about RB sitting in his chair, thanking me every time I stopped by. I love Mrs. Mayhew dearly, as if she were my own blood. I love the Goody Goody.

I can’t stand to stomach the day when her sweet, small frame and perfectly permed hair won’t greet me with the hug and kiss I’ve become so occustomed to. However, I know it will as I still remember RB sitting in his chair thanking me every time I stopped by.

They will forever be a part of my story.

Me with Mrs. Ida Jean Mayhew

Me with Mrs. Ida Jean Mayhew

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  • Thank you Matt for this beautiful tribute to Mrs. Mayhew. It is well deserved! She is truly an icon. I think about her all the time and the hard work she puts in and never complains. How many of us would never even consider doing the work that Mrs. Mayhew has done for over 60 years?
    Our kids first visited the Goody in their baby carriers also and it is still their favorite place to go. Goody Goody is one of the only places you can go in by yourself and never BE by yourself. We all have friends that we know only from Goody!
    Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Mayhew for your hard work and dedication and for giving us all a place where we can feel like we are home. Love you Mrs. Mayhew!
    Jimmy and Tanya Jones
    and family

    • Awesome Tanya!! Thank you!

      • Mike Brown

        Matt-

        A well written article for a deserving family. I remember first meeting the Mayhew’s while scooping ice cream for Lewis Farms back in high school. They were (and still are) a loving couple. Thank you for sharing the story of their legacy and their service to this community. Well done.

        -Mike Brown

        • Thanks Mike! Did RB and Mrs. Ida come pick strawberries?

  • Ford Williams

    Great write-up Matt. Enjoyed a 9:00 a.m. super cheeseburger deluxe just this past weekend. Always enjoy seeing the Ham family at the Goody supporting another wonderful Wilmington family, The Meyhew’s.

    • Thanks Ford! The breakfast burger – a Goody AND Ford Williams favorite!!

  • Amy Stone

    I can not count the times I have been to the Goody Goody house. I feel like family. My daugther first visited there in a carrier also. I love that place. Mr. and Mrs. Mayhew always made you feel like family and always glad to see you. It all is an honor to know them. I tell everyone I know if you want the best burger in town go to the Goody Goody. Thank you for the many years of service that you have given everyone and making us feel like family. We love and appreicate you. Love you Mrs. Mayhew.
    Paul, Amy and Katlyn Stone

    • Thanks so much for sharing Amy! I’m beginning to see the carrier connection is bigger than I thought!

  • Vicki Gibson

    I want to be just like Mrs. Mayhew when I grow up. What a testament to grace and fortitude she is. Always a smile and a kind word for everyone she greets. To quote The Help, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Thank Mrs. Mayhew for being you!

    • Vicki- Wouldn’t we all! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Doug first suggested we go to the Goody back in our softball days! Can’t imagine how many of those waffles and cheeseburgers we have had! I think of those that served us and those we dined with that are no longer here….Mr. Mac, D. Vic, Mr. Sneeden, Eleanor, even your grandparents. There use to be this elderly couple that lived over near Chestnut Street that we always saw there…so many familiar faces and memories with Mrs. Mayhew. She is a fine lady and has always been so good to our family. Her dedication, hard work and loving personality are what makes the Goody what it is ~ much more than an omelet house. Many have passed through that door and left with a memory ~ even Jake and Mark’s target. Good food and good times! Love to Mrs. Mayhew from the Ham Fam!

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  • mrbigjake

    It just doesn’t get any better than seeing the gorgeous “Mrs. Anita
    Pelaez” over at her and her Famous Husband “Captain Kutchie’s”place..Some Folks Also Call Him..”The
    KutchMan others call him The KutchMon!”…Most Just Call Him “The Most
    Interesting Man In The World”….(Anita and Kutchie Pelaez’s Key West, Key Lime Pie
    Factory and Grill)…Just Watching The Lovely Couple Baking Together All
    Those Yummy Key Lime Pies At Their Key Lime Pie Factory And Grill In
    Asheville.
    …It’s Always Worth The Trip To Visit Them In They’re Historic Key Lime
    Pie Factory and Grill…It Should Be On Everyone’s Bucket List For
    Sure..And
    The World’s Best Key Lime Pies!..YUM-YUM-YUM….­­.”Talk About World
    Class” What An Understatement!…….AA­­HHHHH!….The Magic Of The
    Lovely..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” And Her Delicious Key Lime Pies Baked With
    Pure Love…Always……40 Years And They’re Still Going Strong….
    ….May GOD Continue Blessing “Anita And Kutchie Pelaez” and They’re World
    Famous Key Lime Pie Factory And Grill Where The Personalities, Ovens And
    Smiles Are Always Warm And Inviting.
    ….“Kutcharitaville” You’re The Best And We Love You!….
    …Now You Know Who Is The Hottest!…And Baby Let Me Tell You, Mrs. Anita Is No Act…She’s The Real Thing Baby!…
    ….Located Near The Biltmore House And Estate…..
    ….Who Could Ask For Anything More?…Anita’s Key Lime Pie…(Hell Yes!)
    ….Just Think, Kutchie’s Goody Goody Cheese Burgers, First Billed As “The
    Original Cheese Burgers In Paradise!” Way Back In 1974 By “Kutchie’s
    Good Friend “Mr Levi Stubbs” Lead Singer Of The Four Tops….”Sorry
    “Buffett”…Kutchie’s Version Of “Cheese Burgers In Paradise” Came A Few
    Years Before Yours Did, “Dog Ate Your Home-Work?”!!…Yeah, Jimmy, It’s
    The Same Kutchie Pelaez,-The Famous Deep Sea Underwater And Treasure
    Explorer/Megalodon Shark Tooth Hunter.
    Who Worked Along With “Mel Fisher”, “Captain Tony Tarracino”, “Yankee
    Jack”, “Michael McCloud”, “Alabama Jack” , “Vito Bertucci” and Many Others Of Key West Fame.
    ….That Alone Is Quite A Pretty Big Deal If You Ask Me. ….”Hell”,..It’s A Pretty Big Deal Even If You Don’t Ask Me.
    ….Research, Continually Confirms The Fact That The Pelaez’s World
    Famous Key Lime Pies Truly Increases Married Couple’s Sex Rates By No Less
    Than 300% Respectively. It Also Shows That Said Sexual Encounters Are
    Much, Much More Enjoyable Than They Ever Were Before The Consumption Of
    The Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies.
    …..And
    On A Sad Note. It Has Been Reported That The Consumption Of The Famous
    Key Lime Pies Are Quite Detrimental To The Practices Of Divorce
    Attorneys. But, That’s Not Bad. Hell That’s Good News.
    …Not A Sad Note, A Happy Note! The Pelaez’s Pies Are A Win-Win-Win For Everyone Involved!
    ….I Guess You Could Say What Has Been Said Many Times Before,…”AHHH” The
    Magic Of The Lovely Anita Pelaez And Her Key Lime Pies….
    ….I Do Know First Hand That The Pelaez’s Famous Key Lime Pies Have
    The Ability To Turn Small Stream Squirters Into Major League Gushers Or
    Some Might Call Them “Niagara Falls”. Holly Molly, Let Those Good Times
    Flow, Baby!
    ….It’s No Wonder Everyone Believes That Kutchie Pelaez Is The Most Interesting
    Man In The World…..”Damn He Really Is” For Sure!
    …..That “Kutchie”, He Looks Marvelous Dahling!…

    ….”Hemingway”, Had Nothing On The “KutchMan”…

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  • Carol Hulbert

    That was a lovely tribute to a truly wonderful woman. I know exactly who you are, I’m Carol, part of the wait staff at the Goody who enjoys hearing your son sing so much, the next Johnny Cash! I’ve always loved the fact that the Goody is so small and everyone knows everyone which is why I’ve stayed these 8 years since Earnie hired me. It’s like a big family there, Mrs. Mayhew is the matriarch!