Mildred Council, the octogenarian owner of Mama Dip's restaurant, has passed her cooking and entrepreneurial skills on to the next generations.
Her daughter, Annette Council, 55, and her granddaughter, Tonya Council, 37, have started their own food businesses.
Both still work at the landmark Chapel Hill restaurant that Mildred Council started 34 years ago with a mere $64.
Tonya Council is a dining room manager and can often be seen serving customers, while Annette Council keeps the books and can occasionally be found at the cash register.
Five years ago, Tonya Council started experimenting with the cookies sold at the restaurant and came up with a recipe for pecan crisps, which are reminiscent of Mama Dip's famous pecan pies. Three years ago, she started selling the pecan crisps and chocolate pecan crisps as Tonya's Cookies.
Annette Council started her cake mix company called Sweet Neecy a little more than a year ago. "Neecy" is her nickname, and she jokes: "I couldn't get my family to stop calling me that, so I might as well make some money off of it." She hopes it makes people think of sweet and easy.
For years, Annette Council worked at the restaurant but also baked cakes on the side. Often, her customers would tell her that they could never make a cake. That prompted Council to think about a mix.
So she took $20, bought flour, sugar and other ingredients and luckily hit upon a good formula on her first try. She sells an original pound cake recipe, as well as chocolate and spice flavors. All three can be used to make a layer cake, pound cake, sheet cake or cupcakes.
With Mildred Council as the matriarch and so much of their family's lives focused on food, the women say they were bound to come up with their own food business. "I'm trying to find my own little path but still be on the branch," Tonya Council says.
Annette Council adds: "My place is to continue this wonderful legacy that my mom has going."
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