Littles bring home cooking to Albemarle at Lillie/Ann
Published 2:17 pm Friday, January 27, 2023
The name — Lillie/Ann Home Cooking — says it all, or most of it.
Donnell and Dawn Little have immortalized their mothers, Lillie and Ann, for the way they prepared ordinary food at home for their families.
“We love good food, and we love to eat,” said the couple who recently opened a restaurant on Highway 52 in Albemarle.
The Littles talked for a couple of years about starting a restaurant and in March 2022 Donnell said to his wife, “We can do this.”
They noticed the need for a lunch and dinner restaurant in north Albemarle for people who want “home cooking.” They found an empty building on U.S. Highway 52 in Albemarle formerly occupied by Lucky Tusk.
It was “a big risk, but we stepped out on faith,” Donnell said.
“Building prep took time and we had to collect kitchen equipment and dining room furniture, and there were delays with the building,” Donnell added.
To make sure they had everything they needed when they opened, Dawn spent months searching for furnishings and ordering supplies.
“Amazon made a delivery to our house every day, some days twice a day,” she said.
After more than six months of hard work, Lillie/Ann Home Cooking began serving the public on Dec. 1, 2022.
The Littles are not afraid of hard work.
“We’ve worked two jobs for as long as I can remember,” said Donnell.
He was last employed by Holiday Inn Express as the breakfast host and cook, and for many years handled janitorial services in local government offices. As a nurse, Dawn cared for residents of Bethany Woods for 26 years and has been with Atrium Health for three, while also taking occasional waitress positions.
In addition to his experience in the hospitality industry, Donnell learned a lot from a cousin who opened a restaurant.
This husband-and-wife team counts on their sisters who help with food preparation, particularly the many side items. Dawn’s specialty heirloom dish is the broccoli chicken casserole — her mother’s recipe — and her in-demand cornbread fritters. She has to remind customers that the cornmeal delicacies are served only on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Word about Lillie/Ann traveled quickly through the community as evidenced by the line that formed on a recent Sunday, 30 minutes before the noon opening.
“We’re just glad folks choose to eat Sunday dinner here,” said Donnell. “We’ve had to learn fast and we’re so thankful the community is willing to work with us.”
“We want customers to be satisfied when they leave here. We care about what we serve to people,” added Dawn. “We like to see the quality of the meat and produce for ourselves, not just get it off a truck. It’s also important whether the staff looks neat and uniform.”
To that end, the wait staff wear bright toned shirts with a clear message, “Food cooked from heart and soul.”
Lillie/Ann Home Cooking is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. It offers dine-in, carry-out and drive-up service, and will take reservations. It can seat groups of up to 18 with advance notice.