By Crissy Neville
With so many great restaurants in the Fayetteville area, it can be hard to pick a place to eat. Fortunately, no matter whether you crave sweet or savory, Burney’s Sweets & More and Southern Coals have you covered.
Jason and Hollie Hairr and Chip and Jana Humphrey own and operate the two eateries, located next to each other in the Dail Center on Putte Williams Road, just off Raeford Road. The short street is between the All American Freeway and Lafayette Bowling Lanes.
The Hairrs and the Humphreys had been friends for years when, in 2015, they decided to go into business together. Jason Hairr, who was capping off a 16-year career with Chick-fil-A as general manager of two restaurants, brought invaluable experience in the food-service business.
They began with a catering and food truck business operating out of the Humphreys’ home in Eastover. That was Southern Coals, the mobile version.
In 2016, they broadened their business scope – and food offerings – by opening Burney’s Sweets & More at its current location in Fayetteville. The bakery is a franchise of Burney’s Sweets & More in Elizabethtown. Jana Humphrey said she saw the franchise as a great business opportunity.
“Everyone always drove to Elizabethtown to get Burney’s famous croissants and desserts so we decided why not have one here so people wouldn’t have to drive 45 minutes away to get their favorite sweets?” she said.
As a franchise, Burney’s of Fayetteville has to adhere to the original bakery’s recipes and special ways of doing things, just like the original “Miss Burney” did. The Humphreys and Hairrs sent store manager and baker Terri Seiler to Elizabethtown for two months of training before opening here. The hope was to make this location as successful as the first one, and as sought-after, too.
It seems to have worked. Customers come into the bakery steadily six days a week to order from the 12 varieties of croissants as well as the doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, cakes, pies and other pastries. There are also specialty birthday cakes, wedding cakes, coffee, espressos, lattés and smoothies. And with fall on its way you can soon get your pumpkin spice fix right here in glazed form.
The best sellers? “The croissants, hands down,” Humphrey said proudly, “but the 15-layer chocolate cake and caramel cake are close behind.”
Locals validated the couples’ decision this year by giving Burney’s top honors in two local surveys.
The bakery takes care of a wide assortment of individual and corporate-sized orders every day, as well as for special occasions and holidays. From the chocolate-dipped strawberries at Valentine’s Day to the Monday morning doughnut and coffee, they aim to please.
“We have been so surprised and blessed to have customers that have continued to come regularly these past two years. We want to continue to do what we do every day, making people happy, and meeting their needs for sweets and more,” Humphrey said.
In 2017, the store space next to Burney’s opened up and the partners decided to put a bricks-and-mortar location of Southern Coals there. The restaurant opened in early February of this year.
It proved a great complement to Burney’s.
“Most Burney’s locations do have lunch but we really did not have the space for that,” Jason Hairr said. “We saw the new property as a good opportunity to expand Southern Coals to a storefront and serve lunch.”
Southern Coals still offers catering but now concentrates more on offering up great barbecue, brisket and ribs during lunch hours to an ever-increasing clientele. Add in its side dishes, including the always popular fried okra, mac-n-cheese and an array of home-cooked vegetables, and it’s easy to see the aptness of the restaurant’s slogan – “Country Style Kitchen.”
In just a short time, Southern Coals has also become a Fayetteville favorite and was a finalist in several categories in a survey this year.
Hairr says folks come to Southern Coals for the meat.
The eastern-style vinegar-based barbecue is served smoked, pulled and seasoned the way Hairr’s grandparents did it. There are three varieties of sauces – the ketchup-based sweet “Redneck Yum Yum,” the tangy and got-a-kick-to-it “Big Hump Day” or the traditional vinegar-style “Superman” sauce. The sauce is named in memory of the Humphreys’ son Cole who died in a car accident in 2013. He was 17.
Hairr said, “He was a real superman to his family and all of us. There is even a Memorial Run for him held every year at Cape Fear High School and many turn out in Superman shirts and gear. It is like Cole’s granddad, Mr. Larry, always says – that you don’t have to be Superman to grow up to be super men.”
Inside the restaurant, the tribute to Cole’s life continues with a large wooden wall plaque that Chip Humphrey made in memory of his son. The dark-stained wood holds etched stainless-steel lettering with Cole’s mantra: “Live Life to the Fullest and Cherish Every Moment.”
You feel a real connection to this set of family and friends upon reading those words.
You also feel right at home.
The restaurant has a rustic farmhouse feel inside, complete with barn doors, mason-jar lights, rough-cut wainscoting and friendly farm animals pictured on the walls. Grab a tall glass of sweet iced tea and you may find yourself eating and sitting for a spell.
A recent acquisition of the property next door has allowed the owners to tear down walls to make room for an expanded, “dressed up” dining room. They can now accommodate wedding parties, conferences, business luncheons and holiday functions.
Soon you can add dinner to that list.
Starting this fall, Southern Coals plans to open for dinner Thursday through Saturday nights. The owners have added a full bar and will offer appetizers and finger food with the same lunch menu available for evening hours. The new room is complete with TVs, a sound system, karaoke and plenty of room for mingling.
Anticipating the future, Hairr said, “We look forward to adding some live music and entertainment to add to the dining experience.”
So whether it’s a chocolate croissant for breakfast or a plate of barbecue for lunch, Burney’s Sweets & More and sister shop Southern Coals are already delivering a one-two punch in Fayetteville. Stay tuned for the next round.