By all accounts, Shirley’s Soul Food shouldn’t work.
No customers showed up to the grand opening. The restaurant is run by Shirley Combs, whose main career is driving a Stephens County school bus every day. It’s all she can do after her morning shift to come in and cook everything in time to open by 11:30, only to be back on the bus at 2.
The 66-year-old Toccoa native says she hasn’t been anywhere — save for regular trips to the Chick-Fil-A down the road in Lavonia to get ice cream.
But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and Combs’ story has reached across the country. After an opening in 2000 where her only customers were homeless, Shirley’s Soul Food has become a Northeast Georgia institution over the last two decades.