No hot dogs here, just good food

Hampton Road Grocery is similar to a lot of convenience stores.

It sells gasoline and cigarettes, super-size bottles of Mountain Dew and 12-packs of Budweiser.

But when it comes to substantial food, the store stands apart. There's not a rotating hot-dog rack or pizza warmer in sight.

Instead, there's a changing menu of meatloaf, potato salad, baked spaghetti, vegetable-beef soup and other hearty fare that Gay Sholtz cooks from scratch each day in a cramped corner kitchen.

On the last Saturday of each month, the store turns into Moravian-chicken-pie central, with Sholtz and her assistant, Renee Weavil, churning out more than 100 pies inside the store, which is between Clemmons and Idols roads.

Steven Carter stopped by the store one recent day and sampled a warm pie. Bits of chicken and broth oozed out from under the crust, forming a pool on his plate.

“I'm a country boy, and I like the homemade taste,” Carter said. “It's good old-fashioned cooking.”

Sholtz, 53, started at the store 16 years ago and eventually became manager. As part of her job, she supervised the store's deli area, which sold sandwiches and hot dogs.

A few years ago, she told store owner Tom Carlton: “If you give me an oven, I'll show you some of the things that I can cook.”

The list included chicken and dumplings, pork chops and sloppy Joes. Those entrees are served with two sides and boxed in Styrofoam.

Her plate lunches sell for about $4.

In addition, she bakes all kinds of cakes, ranging from an oh-so-sweet cinnamon-bun cake to a gut-busting pumpkin-pineapple-raisin-pecan cake.

“We've had food service for years, but she took it to another level,” Carlton said.

Sholtz has never worked in a restaurant and has had no formal training. She learned how to cook by the side of her grandmother and mother.

She has a loyal following that includes factory workers, bankers, the store's delivery men and retirees.

Stacy Wooten, who drives a forklift for Hanesbrands Inc., is a regular lunchtime visitor. “I'd rather eat here than McDonald's any day,” he said.