Let Granny do the cookin’ in Burlington, Kentucky
“Come see your Granny.”
Followers of Granny’s Garden’s Facebook page know the familiar sign-off. The mother-daughter duo of Belinda Sipple and Jena Piper are the owners and country cooks behind the “Granny” persona and operate this one-stop farmers market/restaurant/retail shop that has been in business for 15 years.
“Granny’s got a stocked fridge y’all!,” reads one post. “Come grab ya some casseroles and soups so you don’t have to cook tonight.”
The business is named after Viola Maye Horton Clore, the matriarch of the family, aka Granny.
“Granny absolutely loved to garden and did it for decades to feed her family,” says Piper. “It was hard work but that’s just what you did back then. She and my Papaw raised cattle, hogs, dairy cows and, of course, a big vegetable garden.
“Granny used to sell her extra produce to neighbors who would stop by and visit. We like to think she is looking down on us from heaven, happy that we are continuing on in her memory.”
Garden goodies and more
The Burlington business, which is open March through November and served by Owen Electric, features goodies from the garden, including produce, tomato and pepper plants, pumpkins, mums and more; a daily lunch special served in the Garden Cafe; freshly prepared, made-from-scratch carryout meals; homemade jellies and jams, including Granny’s signature bumbleberry jam, a blend of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries; and barbecue sauces and preserves in a cozy come-on-in setting.
“We are not fancy by any stretch and we only serve one lunch a day—just like Granny did,” says Piper. “But we’d like to think that it’s the stick-to-your-ribs-food and desserts and the down-home hospitality that keep people coming back.”
Granny’s feeds the lunch crowd seasonal dishes six days a week, updating the menu three times a year. Mondays in the spring might be country ham sliders, slaw and chips. That day may transition to serving a fried bologna sandwich, mac and cheese and fresh fruit in the summer, with chili and grilled cheese offered for fall. Hungry diners can eat in or carry out box lunches—and no matter what’s on the menu, it includes a beverage and is always under $10.
Also available is a long list of heat-and-eat carryout casseroles for families wanting a homecooked meal in a flash: chicken ’n’ dumplings, macaroni and cheese, sweet and savory mini meatloaves, homestyle green beans with ham and potatoes, chicken pot pie and cowboy casserole—all among customer favorites—as well as Salisbury steak and noodles, summer squash casserole, baked spaghetti, twice-baked mashed taters and chicken broccoli Alfredo.
Then there is the lineup of Granny’s desserts: specialty pies like peanut butter, pumpkin, frozen lemonade and butterscotch; cheesecakes including turtle and lemon; and meringue pies in chocolate, coconut and lemon flavors. Rounding out the options are selections of cakes, cobblers, fudge and breads.
“Folks tell us they like the home-like atmosphere and friendly people that surround them at Granny’s,” says Piper. “Even our customers are friendly to each other!”
While Granny’s is a hometown business, it draws customers from all over the country due to its proximity to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport next door in Hebron. Folks from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina—even New York and California and beyond—have dropped in for lunch and to pick up a souvenir: a scented candle or jar of jam or apple butter.
“We try to give each customer the personalized attention they deserve,” says Piper.
Photo: Jena Piper
The myth of the fudge plants
Newbies to Granny’s Garden may do a double take when pulling into the parking lot and spotting a sign advertising Fudge Plants.
You can poke around the piles of produce, jars of jams and jellies and scattering of signs inside, but you won’t find this culinary conundrum anywhere.
“We were advertising ‘Fudge’ and ‘Plants,’ but couldn’t fit the word, ‘and,’ on the sign, so it just had ‘Fudge’ on one line and ‘Plants’ on the next line,” says co-owner and cook Jena Piper, explaining the story behind Granny’s Garden’s now-famous nonexistent fudge plants. “People started to put the words together and—voila!—the myth of the Fudge Plant started.”
While it remains a running joke with customers, the sign has become something of a harbinger of spring. When the Fudge Plants sign goes out, people know it’s time for Granny’s Garden to open for season.
7010 Camp Ernst Road
Facebook: Granny’s Garden
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday
Lunch is served 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday–Saturday.
Reservations not taken. Closed December through February.