Every college student will tell you that their campus has perks like no other. Some may have a club that tries to double as a library. Some may have a reptile on display at their natural history museum. But no other college gives students a second set of parents like Mom and Pop’s does at Florida State.
Mom and Pop’s Hotdog Stand. You’ve all passed one of their three locations at one point or another. And I’d be willing to bet that most of you have stopped for a sausage dog, a cold snickers, or an addictively delicious lemonade on a hot and sticky Tallahassee afternoon.
So where did these magical white stands appear from? Who is that adorable man selling you a sweet tea and a slaw-dog on your way to Strozier?
Ronnie and Ruby Woodson, originally of Quincy, FL, started Mom and Pop’s 19 years ago this January. Mrs. Ruby had always been known for her cooking and opening a restaurant had been a dream of her and Mr. Ronnie’s for quite some time. Mom and Pop’s became the perfect way to get their feet wet. Although the Mom and Pop’s we know now is nothing short of perfection, things weren’t always so peachy keen for the Woodson’s.
In the beginning, Mrs. Ruby was turned away by the school numerous times. Other vendors were already situated on campus, firmly clutching their prime locations. Nineteen years ago, she approached those in charge at exactly the right time. The owner of a small stand on campus had decided to retire. This gave Ronnie and Ruby the chance at a life-changing opportunity.
In 2003, Ronnie and Ruby were on the brink of losing their contract with FSU. The food and beverage department had changed companies, and those now in charge hadn’t realized how crucial Mom and Pop’s had become to the students of Florida State.
Students of all years and all majors sent email after email, demanding that Mom and Pop’s stay a part of their campus. The Student Government Association also became involved and spoke out to those with authority on behalf of the entire Nole nation.
Finally, a decision was made. The students of Florida State had been unconquered once again; Mr. Ronnie and Mrs. Ruby were allowed to stay.
The original stand opened next to Strozier Library, where it still stands today with Mr. Ronnie working as diligently as ever. It has become a family affair with his son, Joe Woodson, working at the location next to Mendenhall and Joe’s wife, Carrie Woodson, working at the stand between Williams and Diffenbaugh.
Personally, my favorite part of their entire business is the ridiculously refreshing fresh-squeezed lemonade. This stuff is serious and will cause you to habitually return to Mom and Pop’s, even after you’ve graduated. My brother, at 31, will still tell you there’s no lemonade recipe in the world like Mrs. Ruby’s.
Mom and Pop have fulfilled their dream by opening Ruby’s Diner, here in Tallahassee. Mrs. Ruby is there full-time now, while Mr. Ronnie keeps an eye out on all his Seminole children.
So many times, the little things in life are taken for granted. As I reflect on my time here at Florida State, I find myself reminiscing on all the insane memories and places I’ve been to while a student here. Nonetheless, Mom and Pop’s and the people behind those stands will always be one of my favorites.