Faye Simmons is combining her experience in the fast-food business with her family’s love of Southern home cooking in her first restaurant, Payper Plates, at 2432 Lewisville-Clemmons Road in Clemmons.
Payper Plates is a drive-through restaurant on the main drag of Lewisville-Clemmons Road, surrounded by fast-food joints and sandwiched between Pizza Hut and Sam’s Ice Cream.
The spot has been a string of restaurants in recent years, most recently Campfire Grill, which closed in 2017.
Simmons is hoping to bring the location to life with her concept for Southern cuisine to go.
A slogan of staff T-shirts sums up Simmons’ idea: “You don’t have to miss your mama’s cooking!”
Simmons, 50, grew up in High Point in a family with seven brothers and sisters. It was her older siblings who taught her to cook such dishes as fried chicken, collards and mac ‘n’ cheese at Sunday dinners and other family gatherings.
Simmons had a 20-year career at Biscuitville, and was a partnering manager at the Robinhood store until a management restructuring about a year ago.
Afterward, while working at the Arby’s in Clemmons, she was driving by the vacant building that would become Payper Plates. “I always wanted to have my own place,” she said. “I thought if I could do it for other people, I could do it for myself.”
Payper plates opened in June, offering a handful of hot entrees, sides and salads.
“I cook Southern food. But try to cook a little bit healthy,” Simmons said. “I don’t use fatback. I make a lot of salads.”
Meats include chopped barbecue brisket, hot fried chicken, grilled chicken, grilled pork chops, turkey legs, wings, sliced turkey or ham, and fried bologna. Most meats are available either with fries and bread or with two sides and bread.
Sides include pimento mac’n’ cheese, seasoned fries, sweet potato fries, collards, spinach and kale mix, cabbage, pinto beans and green beans.
Meat plates with two sides run from about $9 to $13. Veggie plates of three sides and bread cost $6.99.
The fried chicken is served Nashville style. It’s prepared with buttermilk and fried with seasoned flour, then dipped in a spicy sauce. Simmons makes her own sauce from her secret recipe. But she admits to using some Texas Pete in it. Customers can request the fried chicken without sauce.
Simmons cooks her vegetables until extra tender and seasons them well. “I like pepper. I use a lot of pepper,” Simmons said. “I like salt, too, but I try to pull back on that.”
Her collards are cooked with chicken broth instead of any pork. Her pintos are meat-free. She said her spinach-kale combination has been a popular choice; she cooks the greens with olive oil, garlic, onion and salt and pepper.
Simmons has a handful of large creative salads for $7.25, available with meat added for $2.50 more.
“I just tried to think of different things that I like together,” she said of her salads.
One has cranberry, almonds, broccoli, mixed greens, onions and Parmesan.
Another has blueberries, sunflower seeds, broccoli, spinach, onions, and blue and feta cheeses.
Yet another has avocado, mixed greens, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, and a choice of pecans or sunflower seeds.
Simmons said that in her years in fast food, she wished there was a restaurant like Payper Plates. “I would come home and cook for my children when they were growing up, because I wanted them to have regular meals. I didn’t want to feed them fast food all the time,” she said.
But she often wished she had more options.
“I always wished there was some place that served (takeout) food that was like what you would cook at home,” she said.