New Recipe: Nancy Jo’s Homemade opens in Carolina Beach

A fixture at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh for the past 25 years, Nancy Jo’s Homemade has opened its fourth location, in Carolina Beach next to Michelangelo’s Pizza at 9 S. Lake Park Blvd. 

Owner David Townsend said that while he’s been interested in opening a Carolina Beach location for the past 10 years, the company’s fourth location came about very quickly following the closure of the Carolina Beach location of the previous tenant, The Mermaid Castle.

The company was founded in the summer of 1995 by David’s mother, Nancy Jo, who ran a small deli in Warsaw, North Carolina, at the time.

“She started with a 6-foot table and a folding chair at the Raleigh Farmers Market, just trying to pay the bills,” Townsend said.

Townsend said his mother is a master at taking two or three versions of a recipe and perfecting her own version through trial and error. One of the company’s signature cakes, the 12-layer cake with cooked fudge icing, is based off a recipe from her home economics teacher. 

“It’s just like Grandma used to make,” Townsend said. 

Nancy Jo’s has remained at the State Farmers Market ever since its debut, growing from the simple table and chair to a permanent installation in the market’s main building.

In addition to the flagship store, David Townsend opened a Clayton location in 2011, followed by an Oak Island location in 2013, run by his brother Chris Townsend. Now their father, William, will manage the Carolina Beach store. Nancy Jo retired from the operation two years ago. 

Nancy Jo’s Homemade specializes in a wide variety of homemade baked goods, from cakes and pies to brownies and cookies, as well as confections such as fudge, toffee and hand-dipped chocolates.

Customers will find whole and half cakes in flavors such as lemon supreme, coconut, red velvet, carrot and of course the signature 12-layer yellow cake. Chess pies, sold whole and by the slice, come in lemon, coconut, pecan and chocolate, all made with real cream and butter. 

Nancy Jo’s also serves boiled peanuts and will soon begin roasting cinnamon glazed almonds, pecans and cashews. Customers will also find 20 flavors of Hershey’s ice cream, Mini-Melts (similar to Dippin’ Dots), nostalgia candies, jams, jellies, honey and other North Carolina-made products. 

The Townsend family plans to be open year-round, and custom orders can be made for any of their offerings by calling the store. While they do have a website, it is currently being reconfigured to add the Carolina Beach location. 

“Our No. 1 goal is customer service, and to go the extra mile for our customers.” Townsend said.  

Nancy Jo’s Homemade is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. 

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