The Richmond Observer – BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Norman native cooks up success with soul food restaurant

Norman native, Ellerbe Significant University Class of 1970 graduate, U.S. Military veteran and master chef Donald Simmons has drawn site visitors from all in excess of the country to his cafe, Magnolia 23, in Asheboro, applying the down-residence recipes from his upbringing in Richmond County. 

Just after graduating from the previous Ellerbe Higher, Simmons enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1971 for two yrs and was stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Fort Benning, Geogria, Fort Polk, Lousiiana, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as a workers sergeant. Following his services in the Military, he served in the National Reserve for four years. 

Simmons earned an affiliate degree in servicing from Randolph Neighborhood University, which he place to fantastic use in his 37-year occupation as a battery-routine maintenance generation supervisor for Energizer Battery. 

Despite the fact that he had a successful occupation in battery maintenance, Simmons by no means missing sight of his passion for cooking southern staples, these as fried chicken. Both Simmons and his spouse, Doris, grew up in the Norman and Ellerbe communities, respectively, in Richmond County and acquired the secrets of perfecting soul food stuff. Right after his retirement from Energizer in 2009, he commenced catering for smaller teams and ultimately opened up a catering corridor, Magnolia on Worthy of Catering Hall and Expert services. Raving testimonials of his mouth-watering, hearty southern meals led to an opportunity to open up his very own restaurant in downtown Asheboro afterwards in the same 12 months. 

Working with the recipes passed down from numerous generations for the regular classics from both he and his wife’s family members, persons from each state in the state have visited Magnolia 23 to indulge in the genuine southern cuisine. Some of their most well-known dishes — that are not only created from scratch, but produced with love — include fried rooster, collard greens, candied yams, mac and cheese, rooster and dumplings, catfish, pintos, cornbread and so considerably more.

Magnolia 23 has been featured in quite a few publications, together with Our State, Carolina Region, and Southern Living, voted ideal place to try to eat in North Carolina by Parade Journal, and the restaurant is regarded far and vast for its award-successful dishes served with legitimate southern hospitality. 

Other notable achievements of Simmons include things like proudly owning M&S Suppress Industry from 1999-2001 and co-owning Gailes Funeral House from 1991-2009. 

Don and Doris Smimmons have two daughters, Crystal and Brittany, who are also incredibly concerned in the family business. Crystal, a UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. Point out College graduate, is an affiliate professor at the State College of New York at Geneseo. Brittany, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke College, is a medical professional assistant, who practices in Greensboro. 

Examine out the Magnolia 23 in Asheboro internet site or, much better yet, go see them and get pleasure from some actual southern cooking and a superb check out with the Simmons relatives! 

Be a part of us right now in celebrating the accomplishment of Don and the total Simmons family and for symbolizing Richmond County with each and every scrumptious southern dish cooked with the down-property recipes that originated in Norman!

Meghann Lambeth is executive director of the Richmond County Tourism Progress Authority.

(Editor’s Observe: Check out Richmond County is highlighting notable area African Americans every working day in February in honor of Black History Month. Prior people featured include late Richmond County sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr., late state agent Harrison Ingram Speedy, dancer and make-up artist Ciarra Kelley, Ellerbe Mayor Brenda Capel, two-time Tremendous Bowl champion Perry Williams, Bishop Arlester Simpson of Ellerbe, Richmond County College Board member Ronald Tillman, and educator Melvin Ingram. See the Visit Richmond County Facebook site for much more on these fantastic folks.)

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