In a little white building in the tiny town of Monroe, Virginia, 103-year old Mary Fannie Woodruff has been whipping up some of the region's best pies for nearly 70 years.
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Mary Fannie Woodruf
Credit: Angie Scott/ Woodruff’s Café & Pie Shop

Woodruff's Café & Pie Shop first opened in 1952 in a two-story cinderblock building that was built by hand by Woodruff's husband. It sits on a corner named for his father, Wyatt Woodruff, who was a freed slave who became the first black man to open his own business in Amherst County. The couple, along with their one-year old twins, moved upstairs, opening a grocery store on the ground floor. The store, one of the few black-owned businesses in the state at the time, ran on the quiet corner of Virginia 130 in Amherst County for 30 years until 1982. They provided important comestibles to the community, pumped gas to travelers moving between Roanoke and Lynchburg, and raised a family, including five biological children as well as several foster children.

After 30 years in business, the shop briefly closed in 1982, but then Woodruff's youngest daughter, Angela Scott, came home with an idea. Scott had spent years working in other people's restaurants and she wanted to do something on her own, something that built on her family's legacy. She reopened the eatery with her husband in 1998. "I just really do think it was a God thing," Scott told Today reporter Al Roker for a story. "It was the legacy that I wanted to carry on. This is what I'm supposed to do."

Scott started filling the shop with sandwiches and desserts, but the real stars were her homemade pies. She originally made pies based on family recipes including sweet potato and apple, but soon realized she needed more varieties to lure in customers. According to Roanoke.com, when she needed new recipes, "she turned to a Southern Living cookbook she had received as a gift from her mother-in-law for her 29th birthday in 1988." She found inspiration in those pages and now turns out blackberry, pecan, lemon icebox, chocolate chess, coconut meringue, and chocolate peanut butter pies, buttermilk or whatever else strikes her fancy or is in season. While all the pies are delicious (it's pie, of course it is delicious), Southern Living declared that Scott's apple pie was the "best apple pie ever"—and we're not about to argue with ourselves.

WATCH: Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

The Woodruff Café & Pie Shop is a family affair. Scott runs the shop alongside her twin sisters, Darnelle Winston and Darnette Hill. Her now 103-year old mother is still involved: she folds pie boxes, each one hand-stamped with Psalm 34:8, peels apples, or just greets the customers who have come into the shop in search of a perfect slice of pie.