Six months ago, Lorinda Kirby, manager of the Cleveland Chevron, received a small note with a drawing of a pie and a handwritten message stating, “Let me cook for you.” Accompanying the note was banana pudding, homemade cinnamon rolls, and homemade yeast rolls – successfully displaying Ruth Whitworth’s ability to cook.
Whitworth was hired almost immediately and has been serving up homemade Southern comfort food at the store ever since. Normally, Whitworth will arrive at the store around 2 a.m. to prepare her ingredients and begin cooking. She says she prefers it that way so she is allowed to relax and is given enough time to complete everything.
“I like to take my time,” she says. “You can’t rush Southern food.”Whitworth, who owned her own business for four years and attended culinary school at Wallace State Community College, cooks a variety of food for breakfast, lunch, and dessert. Breakfast items range from gravy and biscuits to cinnamon rolls and, depending on the menu of the day, lunch items include yeast rolls, mashed potatoes, cornbread, fried chicken, meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, and more. When spring and summer arrive, Whitworth will also be cooking fresh vegetables. Desserts include numerous pies, no-bake cookies, cheesecake brownies, and apple fritters.
Kirby says business has definitely picked up since Whitworth joined the staff. They now have their everyday customers including workers who pick up their to-go orders and the Cleveland chief of police who Whitworth says orders almost the same thing every single day.
“I told my husband that it’s a little bit like ‘Cheers’ here,” Whitworth said. “Everybody really does know your name.”
Kirby says it helps when customers are served by the same employees every day. One great thing about the Cleveland Chevron employees is how long they have been working there, according to Kirby.
“You are greeted by the same faces everyday,” Whitworth said. “It’s a big family here. I feel like they are my kids.”
Keeping with the family atmosphere, all the homemade food cooked at the Cleveland Chevron is from an employee’s own list of recipes.
“It’s so much easier to open a frozen entree for lunch, but we like to give people a good meal that makes you feel like it came from home,” Whitworth said.“This is not your typical convenience store food.”
Whether a customer is on the run or wants to sit down for their meal, Cleveland Chevron offers both options. They welcome customers to grab a to-go plate or have a seat and enjoy eating in one of their six booths.
A meal of one meat, two vegetables, and a tea is $6, and anyone can call in to pre-order a specialty dessert at 274-4420. Cleveland Chevron also has ice cream, pizza, hot wings, hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken salads.
“This is a little convenience store, but with good food,” Kirby said.
Check out Cleveland Chevron on their Facebook page to find the menu for the day and store hours.