Deepwoods Soul Food serves tourists and locals alike

Published 4:52 pm Thursday, July 28, 2022

As you travel into Hayneville, you will find a local restaurant that has served as an anchor for the community for more than 10 years. Deepwoods Soul Food serves guests comfort foods such as fried chicken, pork chops, turkey wings, vegetables and desserts.

“We don’t have any other restaurants besides the QV and Subway and sometimes people want a full meal,” owner Mary Surles Bell said. “We have a parade of people coming every day for vegetables and our baked meats.”

Deepwoods Soul Food is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, which is the busiest time for Bell.

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“I have a lot of people come in on Sundays. Everybody is getting out of church and they are looking for a place to eat,” Bell said.

The restaurant’s location and hours of operation also make it an important part of the Lowndes County Area Chamber of Commerce’s continued efforts to bring tourism to Lowndes County.

Mary Bell (center) receives small business of the year award in 2020 surrounded by her family and community pictured left to right: John Pettaway, Atty Kelly, Ozelle Hubert, David Daniels, Rosa Timmons, Mary Bell, Cynthia Carter, Martin McCall, Cheryl Colvin, Unidentified Guest, Janice Patterson  Photo Submitted

“One of the things that we are very concerned about at the Lowndes County Area Chamber of Commerce is trying to establish ourselves and pull tourists in as they are coming through,” Ozelle Hubert with the Lowndes County Area Chamber of Commerce said. “Deepwood Soul food is in a very strategic location on Highway 97, which connects Highway 80 to I-65. It’s a family-friendly environment and it’s convenient.”

Bell said it’s not only locals she sees gathered at the tables in her restaurant, but also travelers who come to Lowndes County to share in the beauty and history of the area.

“We see people from everywhere,” Bell said. “Sometimes, we have people call ahead and let us know they are touring the city of Hayneville or Lowndes County and they will bring their group over after they’ve found us online. We really appreciate those who dine with us.”

Deepwoods Soul Food was the first recipient of the small business of the year award established by the Lowndes County Area Chamber of Commerce and has supported the chamber’s efforts to increase tourism.

Like business everywhere, Deepwoods has been challenged by the rising cost of food due to inflation, but has been able to adjust thanks to their loyal customers.

“I had to go up on my prices a little, but that’s the only way I know to keep moving forward,” Bell said. “The community has responded well. Business was a little slow when I first went up on my prices, but after that, customers gradually came back in.”

Mary Bell is the restaurant owner but receives a lot of help from her family and plans to continue working as long as possible. When she retires, she plans to allow her son, David Bell, to run the business, but she plans to continue helping keep the restaurant successful. Prior to owning and operating Deepwoods Soul Food, Bell operated a convenience store in Mosses that served deli-style food called J & M Food Mart where she got her start in the restaurant business.

Deepwoods Soul Food is located at 345 South Commerce Street along Highway 97 in Hayneville. Dine in or carry out and catering are available. For more information or to place an order, please call 334-548-5227.