By STACEY PATTON WALLACE
Don’t you love going to eateries in your community, which have been family-owned and operated for years? About a year ago, I wrote about Buck’s Dairy Quick, just such a place in my hometown of Alexander City (“Eleck” City to the locals). I grew up loving Buck’s chicken snacks, cheeseburger baskets and chocolate nut sundaes.
Well, thanks to my good friend William, I have discovered another terrific family-owned and operated establishment in Opelika — Zoe’s Delite located at 2757 AL Highway 169.
Recently, Mike and I met our friends Jack and William at Zoe’s Delite for supper. I enjoyed talking to Zoe Hurst, the restaurant’s namesake; she was so friendly and helpful.
Zoe told me that Gail and Mike Webster, her grandmother and grandfather, opened Zoe’s Delite in 2002, so this year, the restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary. I liked the “pit” cooked Papa Joe’s sign on the wall. Thankfully, Mike asked about it.
Zoe is the great-granddaughter of Betty Malley. Betty and her brother “Papa” Joe opened Papa Joe’s in Opelika in 1978, and it was an Opelika icon for 40 years.
“My Grandma (MeMe) Gail ran Papa Joe’s,” Zoe said. “Then she decided to go out on her own, so Zoe’s Delite was born.”
Chauncey Hurst, Miss Gail’s son and Zoe’s dad, is the main cook at Zoe’s. According to Zoe, only Chauncey, Miss Gail and an uncle know the restaurant’s barbeque sauce recipe, which is the exact same barbeque sauce which was served at Papa Joe’s. Therefore, if you miss the barbeque from Papa Joe’s, come and enjoy it again at Zoe’s Delite. When Mike and I moved to Lee County in 2015, we wanted to try Papa Joe’s, but, unfortunately, it burned down before we had a chance to go there. We were really disappointed because members of our Central Baptist Church family said the food there was really great.
Zoe, who recently earned her bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from Auburn University in Montgomery, will be taking over the family restaurant from her Grandma (MeMe) Gail within the next year. Mike and I know that Zoe will do a great job. Retired teachers can just tell.
Mike and I loved the elaborate Halloween decorations at Zoe’s. Also, the cozy, casual atmosphere made us feel right at home. In addition, the 100 on the Health Department inspection did my heart a lot of good.
Kaylei, our server, was very sweet, patient and helpful. Mike ordered a hamburger steak with French fries and baked beans. I tried something which was new for me: the original bird dog, which consisted of fried chicken tenders, Swiss cheese and bacon on a hot dog bun. For my side, I chose onion rings.
Jack ordered the sampler platter, which included two chicken tenders, four wings (Jack chose lemon pepper.), two jalapeno poppers and onion rings. He added a small coleslaw. Like Mike, William chose a hamburger steak, fries and baked beans.
Oh, my two times. Everything was really delicious. My bird dog was great, and I LOVED the thin, crispy onion rings. I’d come back for the onion rings alone, but you know I’ll eat more than that.
Zoe’s Delite is a definite do-over. (Isn’t alliteration great?) Trust me, run and do not walk to Zoe’s Delite; you’ll be glad you did.
Besides our wonderful meals, Zoe’s Delite also serves: beef liver, country fried steak, pork chips (This is correct.), ham, barbeque (pork) plates, fish filets (2), shrimp, shrimp and fish and a veggie plate.
Zoe’s also has chicken tenders, livers, gizzards, burgers, hot dogs, specialty sandwiches, salads and soups.
When my A1C (sugar average) goes down (I know; I’ve been saying that for a long time.), I want to order one of Zoe’s desserts. A little girl was at Zoe’s when we were leaving, and her dessert looked delicious. Again, Lynn Hudson (my endocrinologist), I promise that I will do better next time. Although, I also promised that last time.
Zoe’s serves ice cream cones, sundaes, shakes, brownie delites, cake, pie or cobbler, pickle pops and the Beauregard Blaster.
Zoe’s Delite is closed on Sunday. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Zoe’s Delite makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!
Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in The Observer. Stacey may be reached at email@example.com.