AULANDER, N.C. (WNCT) – When you get to your late 60’s, most people are thinking about retirement. That’s not the case for one Bertie County woman who became a first-time restaurant owner last September at the age of 68.

“I’ve always cooked. I’ve always loved to cook,” said Betty Drake, owner of Betty’s Catering and Southern Diner on Main St. in Aulander.

And now her restaurant is a source of pride for the small Bertie County town with a population around 800. “We think things are really on the upswing for a little town like Aulander is,” said Larry Drew, Aulander’s mayor.

After decades cooking for her family and in restaurants across Bertie County, she decided to take a huge step; open her own restaurant. “I’ve never had a restaurant before. But I have been raised how to treat people,” Drake said. “If the food is good and you know how to treat people and are friendly, I’ll believe they’ll come back. I do believe they will. And they have been.”

Betty’s has earned a loyal following since opening in September of 2018. And not just folks from Bertie County. “Rich Square, we get them from Weldon, Roanoke Rapids,” Betty added.

And what they’re getting is old fashioned southern comfort food. “Her chicken salad has got to be the best,” says Mayor Drew. “I assured her, with good food and good service and good people you’re going to have a good crowd. She’s a special lady and we’re glad to have her in town.”

And when you visit you won’t just see Betty, you’ll also see much of her family helping out. “We work so hard and we try to do what everybody likes, treat people nice. Because we’re family we know how to treat people right, that’s the way we were raised. And we get that compliment, too,” said Drake.

And there’s plenty of compliments to go around, especially from Mayor Drew when it comes to Betty’s chicken salad. “It tastes like mama’s and that’s what makes it so good,” said Drew.

And for Betty, that’s the best compliment of all. “And I tell them you couldn’t give me a better compliment, oh this tastes like my grandma’s used to taste. I love that compliment. Because I know when I say it when my grandma used to cook, then hey, you’re up there then,” added Drake.

Betty’s also offers a Sunday buffet. It became so popular patrons were waiting in line inside and outside the restaurant. So the mayor and the Town of Aulander got involved to help. They made it possible to tear down a wall of a building next door to give Betty extra dining room space. “And he opened up another side for me and that’s packed, too,” Betty said with a smile.