Photo: Pictured above, Tewana and David Croye (center, black t-shirts) celebrate Tewana’s Cafe’s beautification award at 100 East Main Street in Glencoe. Glencoe Mayor Charles Gilchrist, members of Glencoe City Council and Beautification Board join the Croye’s friends and family for the celebration on July 16. (Katie Bohannon/Messenger)
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Inspired to enliven her hometown, Tewana’s Café owner Tewana Croye approached Glencoe Mayor Charles Gilchrist about developing an incentive to reward individuals for their efforts to improve the delightful little city.
On July 16, The Glencoe Beautification Board gifted Tewana’s Café with the 2020-2021 Beautification Award, repaying the encouragement Croye initiated years ago.
Born and raised in Glencoe, Croye began Tewana’s at 100 East Main Street, where it sits today nearly 30 years later.
At one time, Tewana’s catered to locals in downtown Gadsden in the iconic Gadsden Variety & Deli. After trying her hand successfully for years at a dine-in restaurant, chocolate shop and production plant, Croye came home to Glencoe.
While Tewana’s used to offer tables for dining-in services, the café in Glencoe transitioned to a one-stop-shop for all visitors’ to-go needs. From biscuits to salads to casseroles, Tewana’s offers a variety of delicious dishes that put cravings at ease.
Tewana’s also features fresh daily lunch specials that await pickup at 11 a.m. and, according to Croye, sell out by close. A natural entertainer and chef, Croye’s jovial and welcoming persona invites guests to appreciate the warm atmosphere she creates just as much as the food.
“I just kind of fell in love with it,” said Croye. “When I was five years old, I would just stand beside my Maw Maw and cook with her. When I was 15, I started working at the Big Chief and I worked there for like three years. I loved being creative and coming up with [new ideas]. [Cooking and entertaining] were always my outlet…I just gravitated towards it. It’s just so comforting. I can be down and stressed, and it makes me so happy. I guess I’m pretty good at it!”
Croye believes the possibilities for Glencoe are endless. She noted that people will travel off the beating path just to visit her café, commenting how they admire Glencoe’s community atmosphere and quaint charm.
“Glencoe is my hometown,” said Croye. “It’s where I was raised. I see so much potential. I feel like if everybody jumps on board, Glencoe could grow and become something. It’s just a hometown feeling.
“[Glencoe] is small enough where everybody knows each other, and if you need anything you can call on everybody [for help].”
Croye takes Glencoe’s neighborly code to heart, answering any call for help she can. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Croye has altered her business to soothe the worries and concerns of her community during such a stressful time. Instead of driving far distances to pick up meals in a safe environment, Glencoe residents only need to look around the corner.
“Especially since COVID, we’ve had so many people who have said ‘you helped so much,’” said Croye. “That’s the biggest thing…we’re so close, they don’t have to go far. They can stay within Glencoe. People are nervous. They’re scared, so we try to accommodate them. Whether it’s [wearing] masks or bringing [meals] out to their car, they feel that comfort. You don’t have that everywhere.”
Croye emphasized that since the pandemic, her customers’ biggest request is if they can shop by themselves in her café. Allowing individuals to browse and purchase meals without worrying about risking their health is one aspect of Tewana’s that will never change.
Croye’s café remains a safe haven for her elderly customers and regulars with health conditions, who she implements precautionary measures to protect. Regardless of the hour, if passersby notice her car parked outside, they are welcome to stop.
“I hope somebody would do that for me,” said Croye.
Tewana’s Café merges the comforts of home-cooked meals with the consolation of family, providing customers with a welcoming environment they enjoy visiting time and time again. Though the restaurant evolved throughout the years and continues to adapt to current outside circumstances, within the walls of Tewana’s, the warmth and support that first sparked Croye to develop the Glencoe Beautification Award remain an unkindled flame – a quintessential representation of its community.
“Everybody is always talking about how Glencoe is a great little city,” said Croye. “[When I began the beautification award] we wanted to encourage everybody. It’s so important for not just the city, but for our kids and everybody to know that it matters, to do the best you can. That’s the biggest thing. I’m just tickled that it’s kept going.”
Tewana’s Café is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The restaurant offers pickups on Saturdays for preordered meals and extends its hours during the holidays. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Tewanas/.