Hometown Eats: Moore’s Country Store

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 3:25 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Even though it opened during the depression, there’s an old country store in Lynchburg that is sure to turn any bad day into a great one! Whether it’s your first time or thousandth, Moore’s Country Store has its world-famous chili and a joke waiting for you in this week’s Hometown Eats!

“I would say we are a unique combination of flavor and heat,” explained Moore’s Country Store owner David Moore.

Unique is a great way to describe Moore’s County Store on 460 between Lynchburg and Concord, and it starts with curb appeal. Yes, there is a tree growing through the roof.

“I’m guessing it is 125 to 130 years old,” guessed Moore.

David’s father, Bill, built around the old Sycamore tree in the 1970s, but the Moore’s story begins with Herman Moore on Independence Day nearly 100 years ago.

“My grandfather’s grand opening was July 4th, 1926. The original store sold everything from chicken feed, to nails, to sandwiches, and sliced deli meats. Basically, the philosophy has always been whatever the customer needs we’ll get it in,” said Moore.

Officially called H.C. Moore’s General Merchandise, renamed Moore’s Country store by the locals, in this picture is that same tree that grows through the roof today, but that building burned down in 1978. There was never a question of whether to rebuild because the tree isn’t the only thing with deep roots.

“My mother used to live in Appomattox and this is between here and Lynchburg, so I’ve been coming here since I was a tike,” said regular customer Michael Matthews.

“It’s just always been a landmark for this side of town. I’ve been traveling all around the country and met people who were familiar with Moore’s as far away as California and Utah,” said Moore.

That’s thanks in large part to the homemade chili, which back in the day, you never knew what you were going to get.

“There was all kinds of experimentation going on and some weeks the joke was don’t make the cook mad because she’ll burn you up with the next batch of chili,” joked Moore.

So, when David came back in 1988 after college and the military, he saw an opportunity to expand the business with a consistent chili recipe and it worked. Then in 1999, he and his wife Jennifer became the third-generation owners and today you can buy the mixture to make Moore’s chili at home.

“Let’s get it out to the public because a lot of people can use it for different things,” said Jennifer.

And naturally, it’s a hit with the military.

“Their wives shipped it over to them and they sent us a sign that says we love Moore’s chili,” Jennifer added.

While it may be convenient to cook up a pot at home, you can’t replicate the taste and experience you get in person.

“People take time to chat. They’ve stopped to have lunch or to pick up food and there’s a little more socialization going on. I like that unique combination of flavor and heat because it describes the whole thing,” said Moore.

“You have to come and get the hot dogs and if you like something spicy then get extra chili,” said Matthews.

“Get a hamburger and a hot dog because they’re both good,” said Jennifer.

That’s exactly what I got, assembled by Carolyn Franklin, who has been working here for 30 years. Starting with fresh ground beef, scooped and pattied daily.

You’ll notice the hot dogs are red dogs, so I assumed they were Jesse Jones dogs but no, no, no. They are made at Moore’s. And you know it’s good when the owners are eating their product.

“To this day one of my favorite things is a hot dog with chili,” said Jennifer.

“You sit on the side of a busy road for 100 almost and become a landmark like we have, there’s no telling what’s going to walk through the door in the next five minutes,” said Moore.

Moore’s County Store, a hometown eat where, like me, you’ll probably bump into family.

The original Moore’s Country Store is open Monday through Saturday 7am-9pm and 8am-9pm on Sundays. They’re located at 6963 Richmond Hwy, Lynchburg, VA 24504.