Where we live

Ron Cockerille/Staff
Hattie Williams, owner and chief cook at Rudy's Hill Top near Salley, prepares lunch for a customer at the restaurant.

Black-eyed peas, collard greens, fried chicken and meatloaf, homemade corn bread, apple cobbler and, of course, sweet tea is what one can expect at Rudy's Hill Top near Salley.


The little white restaurant located near some of Aiken County's prime polo fields on S.C. Highway 394 isn't what one might expect for great food, but don't let the one-room eatery with no menu fool you.

Owner Hattie Williams got started in the business while working for her sister Betty Brown and Betty's husband, Eugene, who ran a store and little restaurant together in the same building. When Mr. Brown died and Mrs. Brown got too sick to work, Ms. Williams took over.

One of the first things she did was to get rid of the store and devote her time to the restaurant.

Now 12 years later, the little restaurant is one of the favorite places for locals to eat.

"I feed my customers real good," Ms. Williams says with a smile. "When someone comes in here to eat they can always expect to get fresh vegetables and sweet tea."

Don't expect to find a menu. Within minutes of sitting down, a full plate of food is placed on the table. A full stomach is guaranteed. And word gets around fast about the place.

"I've been coming here for 12 years now," says Dwayne Jeffcoat, of Wagener. "She makes the best sweet tea around here and some of the best home cooking. If you don't get full here it is your own fault," he says as he pushes away from the table, rubbing his stomach.

Ms. Williams never knows the day before what the course for the next day will be, but she's never had a problem deciding. She just comes in and begins cooking. She got one new customer who was driving by and smelled the cooking. That customer came in way before lunchtime and sat and waited until the food was ready.

The locals love her.

"I came here one time when I was hungry," says Ronnie Bush, of Salley, "Ms. Hattie gave me lunch. I'll always come back here. She treats her customers real good."

And when customers ask for a menu, Ms. Williams just tells them, "Come on in like you are at your mama's house and let mama feed you."

She is in the kitchen cooking before 10 a.m., opens the door for customers at 11:30 a.m. and then stays open until 4 p.m. seven days a week. Her place is at Wagener Salley Crossing. The only sign that might be seen is Hill Top, and all the cars there at lunch time.