Updated: Jun 25, 2022
I had the pleasure of visiting with one of our newest Newton County Chamber members,
Shelley Kent Tomlinson recently. What Shelley has done to contribute to the revitalization the community of Mount Judea is more than impressive. Like many folks Shelly had always admired the old store building in town. Shut up like a time capsule, it harkened back to a simpler, but perhaps busier time for Mount Judea where there were several businesses including a tomato canning factory and some sort of movie house.
Shelly purchased the building without a plan and invited input from the community for deciding how to best utilize the unique treasure. She landed on providing a venue for local vendors to peddle their wares. Shelly currently facilitates a dozen local vendors who all contribute by working a few days each season at the Mount Judea Mercantile.
The Mercantile has a large local following, but Shelly is often surprised at how far folks will come to step into this beautifully restored building to purchase a vast array of one-of-a-kind items.
It just didn’t seem right not to offer all these folks something to eat, so Shelley came up with the idea of offering them a fried pie. She used her mother’s recipe to make a few fried pies so folks could have a treat while they shopped. Oh Boy, did she underestimate the hankering folks have for those pies! The demand for the fried pies soon created the need for a “pie wagon” and Shelley Beth’s Fried Pies were born.
Once she was confident maneuvering the concession trailer behind her truck, there was no stopping the pie wagon. Shelly offers her delicious pies at events all around the region and is in high demand. Fried pies were Shelley’s late father, Burl Allen Kent’s favorite, in fact, he
preferred them to Birthday Cake.
While they held special memories for her and her family, Shelley was surprised that almost everyone has special, “fried pie memories” and she never tires of hearing them. Those special memories contribute to the demand she thinks.
Shelley was soon in need of a larger space to prepare the pies, so she bought a local restaurant in Mount Judea and turned it into a fried pie factory during the week. On the weekends, when Shelley is selling her nine flavors of fried pies in the wagon, the restaurant is starting to attract attention. I’m not surprised. Shelly decided to offer meals on the weekends, and SmackDab Café was born. On PiWay123 no less. A beautiful drive with an awesome reward. They have seasonal hours so be sure to check them out on social media. Shelley’s story is an inspiration and a testament to what can happen if you step out your idea, inkling or dream. That old building was begging to be busy again...
Be sure and check out our PodCast Newton County's Business with Shelly, it has lots more interesting tidbits with Shelly herself!