Story by Gray Bostick/Original photography by Judy Quick Sharon, February 13, 2018
(This article first appeared in the March, 2018 issue of VIP Magazine, and is re-published here with their permission, and my thanks.)
Sometimes you have to forsake the beaten path to discover exactly those things that prove it’s worth leaving.
And just a few blocks off the well-worn path of busy US Highway 76 thru Mullins, quietly standing and blissfully unchanged by time, Webster Manor provides a lunch-time dining experience guaranteed to make you glad you left that heavily-traveled trail.
A rare retreat in these rat-race days, Webster Manor is a true treasure trove of home-cooked Southern vittles – offered up Southern-buffet style and chock full of down-home country goodness – topped off by excellent service in a laid-back casual atmosphere –– and some of the best sweet tea you’ll ever wash a bite of fried chicken or dressing down with.
No secret to those in the know, Webster Manor has for years been a regular and popular stop for many travelers headed to the Grand Strand – as well as folks who come inland from the coast for a “country” meal, Pee Dee residents who often travel over an hour to specifically feast there, and, of course, lucky locals
But no one’s a stranger at Webster Manor – at least not for long; it might be said that a first trip there would be a newcomer yet to become a friend; the second visit, a new friend stopping back in; and, by the third time you sit at their table, you’re practically considered family.
Southern hospitality at its best.
Housed in a 1903 Victorian home, whose top-floor serves as a six-room bed & breakfast, Webster Manor is the pride of Mrs. Ann McDonald and two of her children, William, who works as greeter and cashier, and daughter Missy, who serves as floor hostess and waitress. The restaurant is tastefully decorated throughout, with many golden age cross-stitched pieces and other reminders of days long past, such as a portrait of the gentleman who originally built the home. The dining areas are well-laid out and can easily accommodate groups, and outdoor seating is also available.
But as with any dining establishment, the ultimate proof is in the pudding. Or in Webster Manor’s case, in their fried chicken – which is rumored to be the best in South Carolina, or the macaroni and cheese – considered by some to be the best on the planet, on down to their signature buttermilk pie, which is beyond description. Or any of the other buffet options, which range from ham, roast beef, stew beef, and pork chops – even chicken livers and gizzards, and fried shrimp, to a wide variety of sides, including mashed and buttered potatoes, white and brown rice, string and lima beans, okra, rutabagas, turnips, and cabbage, plus desserts including pies, cakes, and cobblers.
Webster Manor also makes things simple for their guests by serving a specific menu each weekday, thereby allowing diners to schedule their visit to coincide with the serving of their favorite Webster dish, and even going so far as to designate Thursday’s bill of fare as their “Thanksgiving menu” due its featuring turkey and dressing, along with other favorites associated with that holiday.
Given lunch-time demand, when in excess of 200 may dine, it’s amazing how efficiently and effortlessly the staff handles seating and serving. But that’s not surprising given that most have been with Webster Manor for much of it’s 31-year existence. And while the kitchen crew’s expertise is clearly evident via one’s taste buds, the floor staff is just as impressive, quick to happily deliver a needed straw or napkin or refill a glass. In fact, their credo might be best summed up by the t-shirt worn by one which advised, “Let everything you do be done with love.”
And, at Webster Manor, with a smile.
It’s also clear the entire Webster Manor operation is a labor of love, from the front door to the kitchen.
“We love to meet new people, and I’m always glad to see old friends from other areas come back in,” William says with a quick smile, noting that Webster Manor often serves as a meeting spot for car clubs or motorcyclists, as well as a stop for the occasional celebrity, such as John Isley of the syndicated “John-Boy and Billy” radio show, who recently stopped in after learning of Webster Manor from a guest. “It’s nice to have those folks think so much of us and keep coming back, to have such a good reputation, and to have been recognized on a radio show. We appreciate all that and those good words about us.”
“But the fact is it’s the local folks and people in the Pee Dee who supported us from the start and helped us make this what it is,” he continues. “And we’ll never forget them for doing that.”
William notes that, in appreciation, Webster Manor strives to keep costs down as much as possible, while still maintaining high quality, and passes any savings along to their diners, an approach that dates back to his late father. “He knew that people in this area sometimes had it tough, and he always wanted us to be affordable – and we always will be,” he promises.
In truth, the only valid complaint noted about Webster Manor is that they’re only open for weekday lunch and not for breakfast and dinner, nor on weekends, times which are dedicated exclusively to tending to the needs of their B&B guests.
Or perhaps that they don’t rent rooms for post-lunch siestas.
You’ve gotta eat, so do yourself a favor and abandon that same old beaten path, and beat a path to Webster Manor soon instead. You’ll be glad you did.
Webster Manor is located at 115 East James Street in Mullins, and is open Monday-Friday from 10:30 AM – 2 PM; lunch-buffet meals, including beverage and dessert, are reasonably priced at $10 per adult. Take-outs are graciously accommodated and special-occasion reservations are accepted. Webster Manor may be contacted at 843-464-9632; “Like” them on Facebook at Facebook.com/webstermanor.