Keeping customers happy at Webster Manor is a family affair. Daughter Missy White and son William Brown help Ann McDonald (center) keep the lunch buffet stocked with Southern favorites.
Photo by Jeff Smith
It’s just past 11 a.m., and a line is forming on the porch of Webster Manor, a gray-and-white bungalow that is otherwise indistinguishable from others nestling the tree-lined Mullins neighborhood. Just like grandma’s house, the aromas seeping from the open door carry the promise of a hot, homemade lunch cooked Southern style.
Owner Ann McDonald has been making good on that promise since 1986, when she and her late husband, Kenny, became proprietors of this bed-and-breakfast and put a sleepy Pee Dee town on the state’s culinary map. With the help of her children, William Brown and Missy White, and a small-but-skilled kitchen staff, McDonald still keeps the buffet line flowing smoothly, serving between 200 and 400 hungry folks each weekday. Those numbers swell to nearly 1,000 on Thanksgiving Day, as pilgrims from across the Pee Dee show up for a traditional dinner with all the fixings.
But McDonald doesn’t want you to wait for November to sit down and give thanks for your bounty. Every day at Webster Manor is an occasion to enjoy a holiday-worthy meal with family and friends. A walk through the door gets you a warm greeting and an invitation to help yourself. But this is one buffet that is decidedly unbuffet-like—no plastic dishes or glaring lights here. You will eat from fine china while seated in one of Webster Manor’s cozy, Victorian-style dining rooms. There might even be live music, should a patron get the urge to tickle the ivories of the parlor’s old piano.
Depending on the day, there are trays filled with “mama style” meatloaf, pork chops, beef liver, fish filets and roast beef. The skinless fried chicken—succulent and crispy—is on the menu daily due to popular demand, as are cornbread fritters fresh from the iron skillet. Okra, peas, turnips, string beans, buttered potatoes, rutabagas, cabbage, steamed carrots, and mac and cheese grace the steam tables as well.
For a real taste of the holidays, get in line for Thursday’s baked ham, roasted turkey, giblet gravy and cornbread dressing, a moist, rib-sticking version that has garnered lots of praise from Webster Manor patrons.
“It’s the recipe of one of our cooks, Frances Nance,” says McDonald. “It’s a bit different, but everybody likes it. At Thanksgiving, it’s even more popular, so we will make it by the pan for pickup.”
To finish your meal, there are cobblers, cakes, pies and banana pudding on the sideboard. The star sweet, however, is White’s own buttermilk pie, a rich, tangy custard baked up in a flaky crust. You won’t waste a crumb.
“It’s my intention to make our lunch guests feel as special as our overnight guests,” says McDonald. “So we really put a lot of love and work into our cooking. It’s like coming home for the holidays every day.”
Webster Manor's cornbread dressing
10 eggs, boiled
5–6 stalks of celery
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
4-quart mix of crumbled corn muffins and bread cubes
1 12-ounce package of herb-seasoned cubed stuffing
¼ cup of Louisiana-style hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a food processor, finely chop eggs and vegetables. Mix muffins, bread cubes and stuffing in a large bowl and add the egg/vegetable mixture. Drizzle with the hot sauce, then moisten with enough turkey stock to achieve the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, then mix well. Transfer to a lightly greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake at 375 F for about one hour.
115 E. James St., Mullins | (843) 464-9632 | facebook.com/webstermanor
Hours: Monday–Friday. Cost is $9 per adult; $5 for children ages 3 to 9. Call for Thanksgiving dinner hours and pricing.