Cherries is back, but in a new location with a new business model. For almost 40 years, mother and daughter Ollie and Karol Cherry ran Cherries Café in Meadowbrook Mall in Clemmons as a place to go for a homemade comfort-food lunch or a nice slice of cake.
In December 2018, the Cherrys announced that they planned to close the original restaurant so that Ollie Cherry, then 84, could retire. But Karol Cherry said at the time that she had plans to revive the Cherries concept as a takeout business.
Ever since, loyal customers have been waiting for Cherries to resurface. That finally happened May 10, when Karol Cherry opened the doors of Cherries Two Go at 3890 Littlebrook Drive in Clemmons. The new Cherries occupies a renovated 1926 house at the intersection of Littlebrook and Clemmons Road/U.S. 158, about halfway between Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Tanglewood Park.
The first day, Cherries sold 200 chicken pies. Its new Facebook page already has 3,200 likes.
“It’s been kind of crazy,” Cherry said. “We thought we had the freezer stocked, but we pretty much sold out of everything.”
The concept features a revolving menu that offers many of customers’ favorites at the old Cherries Café. So in addition to chicken pies, the menu offers meatloaf, lasagna, spaghetti pie and chicken casserole. And, of course, there are plenty of cakes, including the springtime favorite, fresh strawberry cake, as well as old-fashioned caramel cake.
What makes the new Cherries different is everything is sold to go. That was Karol Cherry’s plan from the beginning, before the COVID-19 pandemic came along and turned all restaurants into takeout restaurants. But unlike a typical takeout restaurant, most of the menu is actually take-and-bake, entrees that are sold frozen and partially cooked and that need to be finished cooking in the oven after you get home.
Each day, Cherries will have some fully cooked items, but with the exception of such items as chicken salad or cake, foods will not be ready to eat. No items will be sold hot out the door.
“This was always a big part of our business (at the old Cherries Café),” Cherry said. “People would come by and pick up four or five chicken pies — or sometimes 20 or 30 chicken pies. And toward the end of the week, I always would be doing 10 or 12 (whole) cakes to go.
“I was looking for a way to cut back some, and to-go was such a big part of the business anyway.”
So, she said, it just seemed to make sense to not have a dining room. She could focus on the part of the business she liked best: the cooking.
Cherries has been selling 9-inch round and 9-by-11-inch take-and-bake chicken pies for $18 and $34, respectively. Spaghetti pie or meatloaf for four sells for $20, as do 9-inch partially cooked quiches.
Cherry is also selling the popular from-scratch yeast rolls, $4.50 for a dozen, and cinnamon rolls, $9 a dozen.
Cakes are selling for $30 to $38 whole, depending on the type, or $4.50 a slice. Flavors include Hummingbird, Carrot, Brown Sugar Pecan Pound and Light Chocolate.
Cherry said she will have a handful of staples, including chicken pie and chicken salad, at all times, but that much of the menu will be a revolving door of Cherries favorites. And she might even add some new items as times goes on. “But right now we’re going to stick with the tried-and-true.”
Actually, Cherry is partly relying on customers to tell her what to cook. As with the old restaurant, people are asked to order whole cakes in advance. The same goes for any large order. And Cherry said she will make just about any Cherries entrée if she has a day or so’s notice.
“We’ll keep plenty of chicken pies in the freezer and have a couple cakes and four or five fresh things every day,” she said. “But people can call and ask for things. People already have been calling to ask for meatloaf.”
At some point, she hopes to offer business lunch catering, and for that she would offer hot meals. There also is a small room with a few tables that can be used for a waiting area, and that could one day be used for anyone who might like to sit and eat a slice of cake with a cup of coffee — but the food still be sold as takeout and there will be no table service.
Cherries had a steady stream of customers the first couple of days — it was more than expected, and the restaurant sold out of most items by midafternoon.
Cherry is running the business with her two sons, 29-year-old Zack McGill and 35-year-old Reid Raisig. And Ollie Cherry even helped out the first week. “I came in to pick the chicken (cooked fresh for the pies and salad) just because they needed extra help,” said Ollie Cherry, now 86. “But this is Karol’s baby.”
Karol Cherry said she planned to open before this spring and the pandemic, but the renovation of the 1926 house, used most recently as a medical office, took a long time. “We ripped out the drop ceiling and found bead-board ceiling. We uncovered the old hardwood floors. And then I had to build a kitchen,” she said.
“I was hoping this would be a good time to open because of the to-gos,” she said. “I was kind of surprised we were so busy that first day. We had a little break, but people remember us,s so we’re excited.”
Last Tuesday, Lee LaVallee, a longtime customer at the old Cherries Café, was stocking up on caramel cake, stuffed potatoes, meat loaf, mac ‘n’ cheese and more.
“I’m one of their biggest fans. You couldn’t keep me away. Everyone here is like family,” she said.
Another customer, Sharon McGee, said, “I’ve been waiting for them to open for almost two years. I’ve been following them on Facebook, and I’m just excited they’re open again. I bought chicken and some of their dressing, and a cookbook for my grown son who keeps borrowing mine.”
Kelly Campion was there Tuesday, picking up spaghetti pie, chicken pie and chocolate crème pie — just a day after she bought some stuffed potatoes. “I would have bought some coconut crème pie if they had any today,” she said. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t get here.”
Karol Cherry said she was grateful to have so many customers the first week and that everyone has been considerate of the COVID-19 situation, wearing masks or waiting on the porch when others already were inside.
“A lot of people told me I was crazy to do this,” she said. “I’m 61, and people said, ‘You should be retiring.’ But I didn’t feel like I wasn’t quite done. I guess I just love to cook.”