One night in late June, Amber Woods woke up from a dream she couldn’t shake. In this dream, she and her husband Sterlyn opened a restaurant in Dunlap.
She explained the dream she had had to her husband, who listened to her but didn’t think much about it at first. But Amber couldn’t let go. She says she “pissed him off about it.”
Later that same week, Sterlyn Woods was driving down Fourth Street in Dunlap when he saw a place for sale, fully equipped for a kitchen, in the gas station where he worked. He wondered if this place could make his wife’s dream come true.
He brought his wife to the scene and seeing him she said she had seen it before.
“It is here,” she told him, it was the place she had seen in her dream.
The Woods family seize the opportunity to make their dream come true
For years, Amber Woods has been cooking for family and friends. On every birthday and occasion, family, friends, and even strangers would come to their home and eat his food for free. They seemed to like it, so why not try doing it for the money?
Sterlyn Woods was nervous at first about the family going into the restaurant business because he knew it was not an easy industry to get started. But here he “threw everything on the table” because he felt the opportunity was at their doorstep.
“People have dreams and don’t look for them and you don’t know what it is and when it’s going to happen,” Sterlyn Woods said. “You have to be ready for it when it comes.”
It has become a labor of love.
“Having the opportunity to do something you really love… you know a lot of people get up in the morning and have to work for a job they really don’t want to do,” Amber said. “But I really love being here, I love it, I love it.”
Dunlap adopts Amber Woods recipes
Amber Woods says her specialty is soul food, featuring chicken wings and catfish. Her fries use a special seasoning that she keeps a secret, and her wings use a special sauce called “The Woods Sauce” that the couple also keep tightly.
The students at Dunlap High have made the restaurant “their place,” said Amber Woods. Members of the Dunlap High football team regularly place large wing orders.
“This city has definitely made us welcome,” Amber Woods said, as the couple noted that business continued to increase.
Seeing happy customers eat their food is essential for the couple. At first there were nervous nerves about cooking for strangers. Getting your family and friends to love your kitchen is one thing, making strangers love your kitchen is a whole other ball game.
But seeing the smiles is satisfying for the couple. And seeing customers ‘the look’ while eating their food is an even better feeling.
So what is “the look?” “
“When they don’t look up at all,” Sterlyn Woods said.
“They go from barely a lot to instantly silent,” added Amber Woods.