One night in late June, Amber Woods awoke from a dream she could not shake. In that dream she and her husband Sterlyn opened a restaurant in Dunlap.
She explained the dream to her husband, who listened but did not think much of it at first. But Amber couldn’t let it go. She says she “got on his nerves about it.”
Later that same week, Sterlyn Woods was driving down Fourth Street in Dunlap when he saw a spot for sale, fully equipped for a kitchen, in the gas station he used to work at. He wondered if this spot could make his wife’s dream become reality.
He brought his wife to the location and upon seeing it she said she had deja vu.
“This is it,” she told him, this was the place she saw in her dream.
Woods family seizes opportunity to fulfill dream
For years Amber Woods has been cooking for family and friends. Every birthday and occasion family, friends and even strangers would come to their house and eat her cooking for free. They seemed to love it, so why not try doing it for money?
Sterlyn Woods was nervous at first about the family getting into the restaurant business, because he knew it wasn’t an easy industry in which to get started. But here he “threw it all on the table” because he felt opportunity was at their doorstep.
“People have dreams and don’t seek it out and you don’t know what it is and when its going to come,” Sterlyn Woods said. “You have to be ready for it when it comes.”
It’s become a labor of love.
“Having the opportunity to do something you actually love… you know a lot of people get up in the morning having to work a job they really don’t want to be at,” Amber said. “But I really enjoy being here, I love it, I love it.”
Dunlap embraces Amber Woods’ recipes
Amber Woods says her specialty is soul food, with menu items including chicken wings and catfish. Her fries use a special seasoning she keeps as secret, and her wings use a special sauce called “The Woods Sauce” that the couple keeps closely held as well.
Dunlap High students have made the restaurant “their spot,” Amber Woods said. Members of the Dunlap High football team regularly come by, putting in large orders for wings.
“This town has definitely taken us in,” Amber Woods said, as the couple noted business continues to increase.
Seeing happy customers eating her food is what it’s all about for the couple. There were some jittery nerves at first about cooking for strangers. Getting family and friends to like your cooking is one thing, getting strangers to like it is a whole different ball game.
But seeing the smiles is satisfying to the pair. And seeing customers get “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 yapping a lot to instantly silent,” Amber Woods added.