Life in our Foothills March 2022 – Living up to its name
Published 11:27 am Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Delightful Dishes in Inman has been serving the community since 1990
On any given day, if you ask someone in Inman where they’re getting lunch, it will be at Delightful Dishes. Testament to that fact is that they were named first place winner in the Best of The Best Community Choice Awards in 2019.
Conveniently located right on Highway 176, Delightful Dishes customers can order any of the menu items in person or online on the restaurant’s website.
Owner Ginger McGuire graduated from Chapman High School and went on to USC Spartanburg, where she earned a degree in psychology. During her years in school, she worked at Delightful Dishes and over time, discovered that she wanted to take this very different career track. The timing was serendipitous because the original owners Nancy Edwards and Norma Gaines wanted to sell the business and asked Ginger to take over in 1997. In 2003, Betsy Pearson and her mom became Ginger’s new business partners after her first business partner Jane Harmon decided to sell her half.
They have recently hired a full-time employee dedicated to making and baking casseroles. Casseroles are an integral part of their business. In fact, it’s how it all started over thirty years ago when Nancy and Norma sold their casseroles out of a shack on New Cut Road in Inman.
When the original owners moved from the New Cut Road location into the current space, they provided pre-made plates for customers to come by and grab for a quick meal. The menu has been widely expanded and today, customers have daily specials to choose from as well as the regular menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, casseroles, beverages and baked goods. Customer favorites include: The Henny Penny sandwich, Chicken Stew, Chicken & Rice Casseroles and Pot Pies, Baked Spaghetti, and their famous chicken salads, including the original and the seasonal variations. From the baked goods, Chocolate Oatmeal cookies are their number one seller.
When Ginger started in the late 90’s, many of the salads were firmly established and in demand, but she and Betsy developed all the sandwich recipes. They worked intensively on the chicken salad recipe which has become known as the best chicken salad around. Ginger says they get a lot of inspiration from watching cooking shows on TV and online, dining out, local church cookbooks, as well as family recipes. And, when new restaurants open up, they will order lunch for everyone on the staff and get feedback from everyone for inspiration.
Betsy is a baker at heart. “I have always loved baking,” she says. “When I was little, I helped my mom bake a lot. If there was something sweet baking, I’d be there in the kitchen. I always wanted to open a bakery. When my mom retired from teaching, we bought in to Delightful Dishes. My mom has since retired and I took over for her. I do most of the baking here at Delightful Dishes, and Ginger and I always share recipes back and forth of new things we want to try,” she says.
Ginger and her sister Lauren also loved to get in the kitchen with their mom and grandmother, both excellent cooks from whom they learned techniques and recipes. Just like Betsy, Ginger’s first foray into food was also through baking, and while in school she took a baking course. “Baking was the gateway to my cooking,” she says. Today, Ginger’s mom Hilda helps by sharing the restaurant’s social media posts and promoting the business online, and even though she’s “retired”, Betsy’s mom still helps out at the restaurant. Betsy and Ginger have an intensely loyal following – many customers come in weekly or even daily, from all over the upstate and foothills area.
When Betsy first started, they only had one register and one tray up front, with just one cake and a pie of the day. Now they have expanded that bakery offering to include many items, and today there are two bake cases and three registers up front. As the Inman area continues to grow, as it has especially during the last two years, the business will continue to evolve and respond to changes. “We get questions and calls about shipping casseroles and cakes regionally,” which according to Ginger is something they may consider for the future.
To maintain agility and responsiveness to their business and technology needs, Ginger and Betsy partner with local marketing and business consulting firm Loss Risk Marketing Agency. Loss Risk was instrumental in helping them navigate the business challenges of the last two years.
In late 2019, along with launching the newly redesigned and upgraded website that same year, they decided to try home delivery. That decision ended up saving them during the difficult last two years, because they had already established that sustainable business model. Delightful Dishes has been a godsend for the customers during this time, providing primarily casseroles but also other menu items hand-delivered to people’s homes within a limited delivery area. It has been a wonderful service for those who have not been able to get out, or for those who are simply cooking-weary. The zip codes of where they can deliver are available to view on their website. Ginger and Betsy were able to quickly adapt their business to focus on this need, and they say it will continue to be very much in demand. They have adapted what was the dining room to daily casserole set-up stations, which prevents them from being pulled in too many directions and allows them to maximize their staff resources and provide the best quality of food and service to the customers. At this time, they are not planning to re-open the dining room, and instead are focusing on take-out, casseroles, prepared salads and desserts. “We are following the business, and going where the business is dictating,” Ginger says.
As dedicated as they are to Delightful Dishes, they are still able to strike a work-life balance. Betsy, a single mom of three, and Ginger who is a new mother of two, both work many hours to make the business thrive but also enjoy having the time and energy to devote to their families. They have put a lot of effort into doing more business within their posted hours, as opposed to ordering and catering outside of that time frame. “We’re family people so we wanted to focus on doing as much business as we could within that amount of time. We’ve added second shift casserole makers and a baker,” Ginger says. During the pandemic, they were able to employ people from the community who were out of work or unable to work at their normal jobs.
“We have so many great, loyal customers. We pretty much know what every one of them will order,” Ginger says. “During the last two years, people in the community have been so intentional about buying from us and supporting local business.” They are truly grateful for all the community support.
If you live anywhere in the area, it’s certainly worth the short drive to Inman to experience the delicious food at Delightful Dishes.
Photos by John Gallant, Delightful Dishes and Erin Boggs.
You can check out all the menu items, store hours, check delivery areas and order online at https://www.delightfuldishes.com
Delightful Dishes is located at 13144 Asheville Hwy
Inman, South Carolina, 29349
Phone number 1-864-472-6305