Family syrup operation creates shopping and eating destination in Headland



When driving along U.S. 431 in Headland, you can’t miss Todd Farms, just turn in the parking lot when you get to the 38-foot-tall red barn and the World’s Largest Syrup Bottle.

“In one generation, we went from a syrup business operating out of a ‘cigar box’ at the back door to more than $600,000 in sales,” said Dewey and Annette Todd.

Dewey and Annette Todd, owners of and partners in the 5,000-square-foot combo general store/restaurant with a recreational vehicle park out back, want to make sure travelers and hometown folks alike stop to eat, shop or park their RV for a spell.

Todd Farms” in giant letters on the roof of the barn, which houses the restaurant and store, is “the largest billboard in the Wiregrass region” and “very effective,” said Annette. Then, there’s the 22-foot-tall syrup bottle at the edge of the parking lot closest to the highway. It “puts us on the list of the ‘Largest Objects You Must Visit Before You Die!,” Dewey adds. The roadside attraction has become so synonymous with Headland that the seniors at Headland High School even included a replica of the syrup bottle on their 2021 homecoming float. Completing the outdoor advertising is the Rolling Store, a paneled van parked out front, a reminder of a time when the store came to the customers.

Besides the obvious draws, “we rely on word of mouth,” Annette said. “We are pleased at the number of travelers who stop in who say they were told by someone else to come to Todd’s.

What the Todds prize most about their business, which opened in 2015, is “the local acceptance. The citizens and businesses of Headland support each other, and we feel like we are part of a family as much as a community.”

More Reasons to Stop
The development in front of the family’s sugar cane field includes a special events pavilion, which the Todds also own and operate, plus a barber shop, a seed/feed/produce store and an Amazon fulfillment business.

The RV park has 28 sites and includes showers, restrooms and laundry facilities.

The Todd Farms General Store sells syrups, jams, jellies, pickles and relishes made from the sugar cane and other produce grown on the farm as well as candies and Amish products. Some, including Grandpa Isler’s Cane Syrup Coffee and Todd’s Sweet Tea Jelly, are also available for purchase online.

The restaurant specializes in burgers, hot dogs with homemade chili, chicken in various forms, hot and cold sandwiches plus salads and a weekly soup. Homemade cakes and pies and frozen casseroles are available to go. On Wednesdays, there is a hot plate special. “Early on, we studied our sales and customer data, and Wednesdays showed a dip in sales. So, we started offering a hot plate, and now it is probably our second busiest day,” said Dewey, who teaches quantitative methods as an assistant professor at Troy University. He is also the assistant dean of the Sorrell College of Business with responsibilities on the Dothan, Montgomery and Phenix City campuses. His academic specialties are statistics and operations management.

Whenever he is not teaching, about three days a week, he is at the business or farm. He gives the credit for Todd Farms’ success to his wife and their 10-person staff. “They make it happen,” he said.

Nikki Carpenter Lingo, who has worked for the Todds for two years, says Annette is “the backbone to the whole operation. She always lets us know we are appreciated.”

The Todds said they have found that spending more per employee (in wages and paid vacation time) pays dividends in higher job satisfaction and increased revenue.

Dewey and Joe Todd in their cane field.

Family Tradition
Syrup-making is a family tradition for the Todd family, going back to the early 1800s. The family syrup makers have plied their trade in South Carolina, south Georgia and now in south Alabama.

Dewey’s dad, Joe Todd, relocated the family syrup operation to Headland in 2012. In 2021, the Headland Area Chamber of Commerce named Joe its 2021 Man of the Year. Joe, along with his wife, Edria, handled syrup making duties for years, but now are fully retired. They trained the younger generation well though, so the syrup continues to flow from Todd Farms.

The Todd Farms General Store and Café at 19326 U.S. 431 South is open Tuesday through Saturday. Find store and café hours or shop online at

Story by Nancy King Dennis

Find this article on Page 6 & 7 of the July 2022 Alabama Retailer


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