Bessie Barbour was in tears Saturday morning as she received her flowers — literally and figuratively — from an intimate crowd of family, friends and supporters upon the grand opening of Saddie’s Dairy Express.
Full of gratitude, she made sure to share the spotlight by thanking special friends and family members who helped to make the new business a reality.
The crowd then progressed outside for the official ribbon cutting ceremony, in front of the take-out window.
Located at 5007 Halifax Road, Saddie’s is reviving both the location and the drive-in format of previous popular businesses — the Dairy Bar and then later Dairy Express — but with a new perspective.
“I raised my kids coming here when it was the Dairy Bar,” she revealed. “It was economical; it was a treat.”
Barbour remembers the longstanding business as a central part of the community where children came for the ice cream, while their parents appreciated the affordable prices.
“I want to try to keep it going for the community,” she explained. “When young families are growing, they can take their family out at a reasonable price.”
Although Barbour is quick to assert that Saddie’s Dairy Express is a new business with a unique take on the drive-in location, she recognizes that she is continuing a legacy for the community.
“Right now I’m getting customers coming with their grandkids, because they came, they were brought here,” she said. “So now they’re bringing their grandkids here to get ice cream and sundaes and so forth.”
Barbour shared that her own family’s legacy is infused into the business via her namesake, her grandmother Saddie.
“Saddie is my granny, my mother’s mother,” she revealed.
Saddie was the matriarch of Barbour’s family, babysitting and helping to raise at least three generations. She taught the family traditional Southern cooking.
“We were brainstorming, and we said, ‘well, who taught us how to cook?’” she shared. “We said, ‘Grandma Saddie,’ and then, ‘well let’s name it after Grandma Saddie,'” she elaborated.
Barbour relishes the opportunity to honor her beloved grandmother in this way. “It means everything,” she said with equal parts joy and reverence.
Customers at Saddie’s Dairy Express will be able to enjoy familiar favorites such as burgers, fries, milkshakes, banana splits and sundaes.
“I tried to put what the county likes, what the county was used to when it was here before, and try not to let it be too many surprises — but a few,” she shared cheekily with a hearty chuckle.
Barbour notes that she was able to pull some veteran local bakers out of retirement to assist with making fresh baked goods for Saddie’s. They will help with making sweet Southern delicacies such as fried pies — including sweet potato and apple varieties.
“And we’re introducing a brand new dessert — fried honey buns,” Barbour revealed with a slightly naughty giggle.
With the right mix of tradition and creativity, Saddie’s Dairy Express is well poised to become a cherished community favorite.
Saddie’s is open for business every Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm