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Neighbors Spotlight: Amy Washington feeds the community

LaGRANGE – The Daily News’ weekly Neighbors series features one person from LaGrange and the surrounding area. This week we sought out LaGrange native Amy Washington – who owns One Stop BBQ on Hogansville Road and Smoke Stop Vape Shop on Davis Road – and her daughter Julie Smith, a local emergency medical technician.

LaGrange Daily News: What is your favorite thing about living here in LaGrange?

Washington: This is a dream come true. I waited tables for years, and I got real sick in ’04, and I was out of the public eye for years. Then three and a half years ago I quit smoking using one of these (vape mods), so I opened a vape shop. From there, I had always wanted to open a restaurant. It was a dream of mine and my mother’s, and her health isn’t good enough to work in one now, but she was my mentor as far as cooking. … It was just kind of a family want to. When I saw this building (where the restaurant now is) for rent, I called about it. Got it together, and we opened up. … October 1 was our grand opening. … I wanted to keep it a value for people who eat here, but still be able to – we do all home-cooked food. Nothing comes in processed or pre-made.

LDN: Your businesses are obviously very important to you.

Washington: Other than my family, the vape shop and the restaurant are my life because I get to be with people every day. … I love people. I waitressed for years, and now I have one on one contact with my vape shop customers. They follow me here. We’ve got people here who want to eat good home cooked cooking just like I always did. My kids grew up on home cooking, and it’s just what I do. I was disabled in 2006. I don’t draw a check. I do what I love doing.

Smith: We were told to prepare for her funeral when she was in the hospital. I was 15, and the doctor told me that, “Your mom is going to die.” … They told her she would never survive, and if she did she would be institutionalized. When she did finally come home she had regressed to age 5 maybe. She talked in a childlike voice. … We never thought that she would function again, but slowly – it took a while – but slowly, she was back full function.

Washington: My life is my kids and grandkids.

Smith: She had a second chance is what it was, and she decided she wasn’t going to waste it.

Washington: You got that right. … It was awful, but my babies, my kids, being able to work alongside of them – my middle son works with us both at the vape shop and here (at the restaurant) and he is a carpenter and painter by trade – (is a blessing), and I like food. I like food a lot, but I want home cooking. I don’t want TV dinners.

Smith: It is hard to find real food.

Washington: It is. … I just like people, and they come into my life. I meet them, get to know each other, and just passing and repassing. They come in. I know what they want. I miss my waitressing days, and now getting to do this with (Smith) that is a dream come true. … I love my restaurant. I love the vape shop. We all work as a team, and though we are not blood related, we are all family.

Smith: She is mama for so many people. … She helped raise half of the neighborhood, half of the community. They knew if they wanted something to eat or to drink, or they needed somewhere to throw their birthday party, they could come to her house.

Washington: It was mostly, “Have you got a peanut butter, jelly sandwich? And chicken and dumplings?”

Smith: She would always have neighborhood kids from everywhere come for peanut butter, jelly sandwiches, and they would raid the drink fridge.

Washington: And the chicken and dumplings was never enough.

Smith: She’s helped everyone who ever needed it. We’ll get this phone call, “Hey this family just lost their house to a fire. Do you have anything?” She’s the type to deliver a tractor trailer load of clothes and home stuff and furniture. … And she serves all of our public service people. They come in (to the restaurant), and they get half price.

Washington: They don’t make enough for the jobs they do, and a lot of times if they come in, they may have to jump up half way through, so I tell them, we are on service, on duty or off duty.

LDN: What are your other hobbies besides work and family?

Washington: That is it. That’s enough. I have a very full life.

‘Neighbors’ is a weekly series by the Daily News that highlights community members. To nominate a person to be featured call 706-884-7311.