Not so long ago, a trip from Charlotte to Waxhaw yielded bucolic vistas. Farms along Providence Road produced a continual green ribbon of pasture. But since the turn of the century, Waxhaw has experienced burgeoning growth; in fact, from 2000 to 2010, the population grew 275 percent. Neighboring communities experienced similar growth patterns. Marvin, for example, has grown a staggering 437 percent during that same time period.
So almost as quickly, farmland is disappearing. Some of the farms and ranches have given way to housing communities. Yet downtown Waxhaw maintains that small-town charm, and just outside the city limits, ranches (or cattle farms), feed and tack shops, and equestrian estates flourish. Along one section of the Lancaster Highway, a half-dozen Black Angus seem to take notice of cars coursing by their pasture.
Nearby is the Wysacky Trading Post in a small building set back from the road and framed by a red front porch. Entrepreneurs Wayne and Cynthia Daniel opened their "We don't serve fast food, we serve fresh food" shop six years ago. Cynthia, a Waxhaw native, had always planned to move home to establish a business.
The Daniels chose to honor the Native Americans who used to live on this land. Wysacky is the name the Waxhaw people gave to their hunting ground, which was in use until the mid-1700s. The Waxhaw people no longer exist. Some speculate that they either succumbed to colonial illnesses such as small pox, against which they had no defense, or relocated to Florida after the end of the Yamasee War, a war they lost against an alliance of British colonists and the Cherokee nation. Or as Cynthia Daniel tells the story: "Andrew Jackson may have had something to do with it (their demise)."
But here on the former hunting grounds is the Wysacky Trading Post, whose intimate interior gives evidence of its former purpose as a home. Above the unused fireplace and throughout the small 20-seat dining room are portraits of Native Americans — not necessarily Waxhaw.
Wysacky is a counter service place and the menu is a roundup of familiar foods: burgers, barbecue, chicken sandwiches, pizza, and fried fish platters. The kitchen, manned by Cynthia Daniel and Glendora Kilgo, yields many delights: Chopped barbecue arrives with notable house-made "Cynful" barbecue sauce. The daily offering of freshly baked cakes often includes the retro-flavored cherry cloud cake. After one bite, my dining companion murmured, "Tastes like childhood."
Sure, there are the questionable coronary–inducing cheese and bacon fries, but fried bologna is constructed in a familiar Southern style on white bread.
But the 10 renditions of a burger make a trip from the city worthwhile. The roster includes the "old fashion" with chili and Carolina slaw, and a jazzy Tex-Mex number with jalapeños. Cynthia Daniel reports she gets her beef from her neighbor's farm on a daily basis. In this day of pricey farm-to-fork cuisine, the burgers at Wysacky are about as local and fresh as can be. The beef is freshly ground, never frozen, and burgers cost $3.19 to $4.59 depending on toppings. And they're good.
If you're weary of trendy, overpriced comfort foods and long for a freshly ground local (like, next door) burger, the Wysacky Trading Post offers all sorts of vanishing pleasures.