Good cooking runs in the Ivery Family. And McDuffie County is glad of that.
"My father always wanted to have a restaurant, and he did a lot of cooking for a lot of people," said Nether Ivery, Jr., owner of Ivery's Restaurant. "My mom, she was a cook at Ft. Gordon for about 25 years."
Nether Ivery can fill in at any spot from the kitchen to the cash register at his restaurant.
But even when Mr. Ivery returned to Thomson after 15 years of military service, little did he know that he would be feeding the people of McDuffie County for years to come.
"When I was back in the military...someone just mentioned 'Go for your goals,'" Mr. Ivery said of his inspiration to start the restaurant. "I just made the move, stepped out on faith."
Mr. Ivery was named the Small Businessman of the Year by the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce at its 32nd Annual Banquet on Feb. 3. He thinks the recognition from the Chamber of Commerce couldn't have come at a better time.
"It's a good award for that month," he said.
February is Black History Month, which is something Mr. Ivery takes an active role in promoting and celebrating. One thing his restaurant does that he is proud of is bringg people of all races together to eat under one roof.
"I try to offer the best product at a reasonable price, and you can't segregate that," he said. "It's just something that everyone sees as a good value, and that's what I strive for. I'm not here to serve one specific group, black or white...I've got all walks of life come in here from judges to street sweepers."
The restaurant is not the only way Mr. Ivery serves the community. He and his wife, Stephanie also own Stephanie's Stylon and Felicity, all of which are located on Railroad Street in Thomson. He is glad that people have noticed the work that goes into running these businesses.
"In the restaurant business, you have to be up before the crack of dawn every day," Mr. Ivery said. "It just makes everything worthwhile to see that someone recognized that."
With all the time that it takes to run three businesses, Mr. Ivery still finds a way to give back to the community that gave so much to him. He is currently on the McDuffie County Board of Education.
He is also a member of both the tourism board and the downtown development authority. The latter of which is something he specifically knows a great deal about.
"When I first came down here, Railroad Street was a ghost town," Mr. Ivery said. "When I started this business, it picked up downtown. You can see a difference from over the years. You could ride down through here and you probably wouldn't see a car parked on Railroad Street for hours."
Mr. Ivery is quick to point out that Mrs. Ivery has aided him greatly in the work that has been done to revitalize downtown Thomson.
Mr. Ivery's chamber award
Jason B. Smith
"She does a great job. Without her, I tell you. She makes the days go by," he said.
The importance of his family is eclipsed only by the place that God holds in his life. Mr. Ivery is an active member of Springfield Baptist Church.
Despite the community and church involvement of the Iverys, Thomson wasn't always his place of residence and business.
Mr. Ivery took medical retirement from the military after serving in the first Persian Gulf War. Once that phase of his life was over, there was little question where he would settle, though.
"(Thomson) is a place where you can raise a family, leave out of the door without locking it sometimes," he said. "And you don't have to worry about all the hustle and bustle of the city life."