Hale County woman bakes her way into Southern Living magazine

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Even Lou Hambright calls Lou’s Bakery&Deli, her little shop at 1227 Main Street in Greensboro, a “hole-in-the-wall.” But, as she says with a laugh, “It’s MY hole-in-the-wall.” That’s saying something, something since the goodies she cooks there have landed her a feature article in one of the largest publications in the South.

Open up the February issue of Southern Living magazine, and you’ll find a profile of Ms. Hambright-“Call me Lou,” she says-and of her many confections of perfection.

Lou is, as any shopkeeper would be, grateful for the attention. “It’s already been good for business,” she says. “I’ve already had people from as far away as Pinson and Oneonta in here to buy cakes…one lady called from Marion to say she didn’t even realize there was a bakery in Greensboro!”

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Even if Lou’s work hasn’t yet been recognized in all corners of the Black Belt, it has drawn notice from bakers in Birmingham. “That’s how the article got started,” she says. Lou supplements her income from the shop in Greensboro by selling “all kinds of pie and cake” tin the Pepper Place Farmer’s Market on Birmingham’s South Side. “Rum cake’s popular up there…I sell yeast rolls, pecan pie, and a lot of golden pound cake.” Even in the crowded market of Pepper Place, Lou’s creations stood out, which led to a photo and a write-up in Birmingham Home Design magazine. Not long afterwards, Southern Living came calling.

“They wanted to do a story,” she said. “They interviewed me here, wanted to know where I lived, how I lived…they wanted to connect the story with the Black Belt.”

In a bit of irony, Lou doesn’t subscribe to Southern Living and hasn’t even been able to read her own article yet. “They didn’t tell me when it would be published, they just said they’d send me some copies,” she said. “Those haven’t come in yet. I’ve had people call me and tell me they’ve seen it, but since it’s not out in stores yet, I haven’t been able to get a copy.”

Even if she hasn’t seen it, the article remains a highlight of Lou’s eight-year career in the baking and cooking business. “I worked in home health care,” she said, “and after a while, I just decided I was tired of having a job that made me sad. I wanted a happy job. And I said, well, I know I can bake some.”

That confidence led to Lou’s Bakery and Deli, currently staffed by just Lou and her hardworking son Robin Hambright. Popular items include soup served with Lou’s homemade chicken salad, which she makes using her own original recipe. “People kept saying to me, ‘I can’t eat that in there’ or ‘I can’t eat this in there,'” she says. “So I thought, we’ll just make it simple.” From the bakery, caramel cake is a favorite with the Greensboro locals. “A lot of people around here like it,” she says.

Given that the bakers at Southern Living can agree, that’s hardly surprising.