Ham’s shut down its Sanford restaurant before your kindergarteners were born, but that building will finally have a new resident beginning in late February.

The owners of Toot’s describe Sanford’s next restaurant as “Southern cooking with sports bar food,” and it’s the “Southern” part that’s most intriguing. According to Toot’s CEO Howard Williams, the menu will include ribs, fried chicken, fish (fillets and bone-in), chicken gizzards, collard greens, black-eyed peas and more.

“What makes our food stand out is there’s nothing generic about it,” says Williams. “It’ll remind you of the food your grandmother or mom cooked. Everything’s fresh. Nothing’s frozen.”

The name is both a nod to Sanford’s railroad history and the childhood nickname of the restaurant’s owner, Howard’s mother Lisa Williams. The family runs a catering business in Raleigh, Two Fish and Five Loaves of Bread, that does business in both the Triangle region and Fayetteville/Fort Bragg area. They liked the Sanford location because of its visibility on Sanford’s busiest stretch of road and because of Sanford’s proximity to Raleigh and Fayetteville (co-manager Henry Harris, a Sanford native and Howard’s brother-in-law, first pitched the old Ham’s location).

“We loved the building’s layout, and the location was excellent for us,” Howard said. “Sanford has different demographics, and we think the Southern-style food will sit well here. Those we’ve served in our catering events and family reunions have told us they’re excited about the new business.”

There is no set open date, but Howard said he hopes to launch the restaurant by the end of February. He can be reached by email at