Skip to content

You are using an outdated browser

Internet Explorer is not supported by this site and Microsfot has stopped releasing updates, therefore you may encounter issues whilst visiting this site and we strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser for modern web functionality, a better user experience and improved security.

Upgrade my browser

This Donations-Only Restaurant Where All Are Welcome Say “We Feed the Need” in Alabama

Source: drexellandhoneybees.com

Drexell & Honeybees family-style restaurant gives food and dignity to people who need it most and has inspired the surrounding community to do the same.

Feeding hungry people who may otherwise go without is the mission behind Drexell and Honeybee’s

There is an usual restaurant in downtown Brewton, Alabama. There are no menus at Drexell and Honeybee’s, no suggested prices, and not even a cash register. Everyone who walks in the door goes through the line and selects an entrée – depending on the day, it might be barbecued ribs, chicken pot pie, beef stew or any number of other Southern specialties – plus side dishes, bread, tea and dessert. And when they leave, if they feel so inclined, they can pay whatever they wish in a donation box. Or not. Sometimes, patrons just leave a note of thanks. What, you may be asking yourself, is that all about? 

“Our mission statement is we feed the need,” says Lisa McMillan, co-owner of Drexell and Honeybees. “When we first set the restaurant up, we said there will never be a cash register here and never a price on the food,” says Freddie McMillan, co-owner of Drexell and Honeybees. Source: drexellandhoneybees.com

At Drexell & Honeybee’s ‘Everybody eats.’

When you enter Drexell & Honeybee’s in downtown Brewton, Alabama, you’ll walk past booths and four-tops full of cornbread, fried chicken, and collard greens. The one thing you won’t find is a checkout register. To owners Lisa and Freddie Thomas-McMillan, food is about the joy of serving others. And that doesn’t come with a price tag.

In fact, there’s only one rule: ‘Everybody eats.’ From Tuesday through Thursday, 11 A.M. – 1 P.M., Drexell & Honeybee’s serves up hot plates to hungry on-comers from all walks of life, whether you can pay for it or not. There are no suggested prices, in fact, no prices of any kind. 

When you are done with your meal, you simply leave whatever you can – a handful of coins, a generous donation, a hand-written note, or a heartfelt ‘Thank You’. But when you leave, you do so with a full stomach, a full heart, and the understanding that you are loved and worthy of love. You can find soul food all over Alabama, but you won’t find a meal that fills you up quite like this one.

So what does Freddie and Lisa “get” out of all this? Joy!

The following are Lisa’s words – taken from an article published by The Bitter Southerner by Jennifer Kornegay: “Make no mistake, joy is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is fleeting; joy is something down in your soul. The more you do, the more you’re able to do, and the richer you become.”

Source: DrexelandHoneybee.com

“I want these different folks in this space together,” she says. “I want them interacting. Doing it over food makes the fellowship more natural.” The fellowship is so important to Lisa that she stopped offering to-go orders. And this communion is opening eyes, showing those in Brewton who have how many there are who have not.
The connections formed at the restaurant are equally crucial. “I want these different folks in this space together,” she says. “I want them interacting. Doing it over food makes the fellowship more natural.” The fellowship is so important to Lisa that she stopped offering to-go orders. And this communion is opening eyes, showing those in Brewton who have how many there are who have not. Source: bittersoutherner.com
In this way it meets people’s innate desire for dignity. “Everyone wants respect; everyone wants to be acknowledged and valued; we owe others at least that,” Lisa says.
Drexell & Honeybee’s feels and basically operates like any other restaurant, emphasising quality and presentation in an inviting atmosphere. In this way it meets people’s innate desire for dignity. “Everyone wants respect; everyone wants to be acknowledged and valued; we owe others at least that,” Lisa says. Source: bittersoutherner.com

“The best thing you can do in the world is make a difference,”

Two years ago, Lisa Thomas-McMillan took a chance on opening a donations-only restaurant in downtown Brewton, in a building she and her husband, Freddie, had bought and renovated. Drexell and Honeybee’s is the eatery with the funny name – it’s something Lisa made up years ago that stuck with her – and a serious mission: to feed the hungry. 

A Brewton native, Lisa moved away to Los Angeles for 20 years, returning home after living through a terrifying earthquake. Since 1994, she has been feeding people in one way or another, from college students to the elderly.

Lisa does much more for the city than put food on the table at Drexell and Honeybee’s. 

"When Lisa and Freddie first approached the city with the plan to open a ‘pay-what-you-can’ restaurant, I didn’t really understand how that could possibly work,” says Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace. 

“But the city rallied behind the project, and we gave her a grant to help get the store opened. It was probably one of the best investments we have made into our city’s people and into business here too. She is a miracle worker, and her love of people feeds the need for food but also the need every person has to belong to a caring community."

“The best thing you can do in the world is make a difference,” Lisa told AL.com in November of 2018. With a kind heart, a generous spirit and infectious joy, she continues to make a difference in her hometown.

Learn more about Lisa’s life – and Drexel and Honeybee’s – in the video below.

Source: AL.com

Drexell & Honeybee’s is taking at least a small bite out of the area’s poverty problems.
100% of donations go to the operational cost of feeding the hungry. Drexell & Honeybee’s is taking at least a small bite out of the area’s poverty problems. Source: bittersoutherner.com
“The Lord put this place on my heart,” she says.
Cindy Grissett says divine inspiration and her love of cooking motivated her to join the staff at Drexell & Honeybee’s. “The Lord put this place on my heart,” she says. Source: bittersoutherner.com
A Donations-Only Restaurant Changed This Small TownSource: Facebook/ItsaSouthernThing
Make an Impact

DONATE TO THE DONATIONS-ONLY RESTAURANT

Click this link to find out more about the wonderful work at Drexell & Honeybee’s on their website, and if you would like to make a secure donation via PayPal, you will see a “DONATE” icon clearly visible, bottom right of screen.