Granddaughter of food icon Mama Dip opens a new restaurant in NC Museum of History

Sweet Tea & Cornbread

The North Carolina Museum of History’s newest restaurant has a pedigree directly to Southern food royalty.

Tonya Council, granddaughter of the late Mildred “Mama Dip” Council, has opened Sweet Tea and Cornbread Grill & Eatery in the NC Museum of History. The new restaurant offers museum visitors a weekly lunch option steeped in North Carolina’s food history, plus crowd-pleasing cafe options like chicken salad and french fries.

“I’m thrilled to open the Sweet Tea & Cornbread Grill and Eatery at the N.C. Museum of History,” Council said in a press release. “I grew up surrounded by classic Southern food, so the museum is the perfect venue to both continue that legacy while exploring more modern iterations of my family’s signature dishes.”

The new restaurant replaces longtime museum cafe Pharaoh’s, which closed last year. Diners will find similar menu items, such as hot dogs and sandwiches, but there’s a distinctly Southern theme. Look for a country fried steak sandwich, fried green tomatoes, fresh salads and burgers. Daily specials will showcase Council’s versions of Southern classics and, given the name, bet on sweet tea and cornbread as daily standbys.

Like others in her family, Tonya Council has followed in the steps of her grandmother Mama Dip, waiting tables as a teenager at the family restaurant, then starting Tonya’s Cookies in Chapel Hill and recently opening the first Sweet Tea & Cornbread location in Crabtree Valley Mall, selling packaged gourmet foods.

Mama Dip died in 2018, but her legacy lives on in her namesake restaurant Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill, which is now operated by her daughters.

The new Sweet Tea & Cornbread is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit ncmuseumofhistory.org/sweet-tea-and-cornbread

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