By Meredith Alling
Photography by John Michael Simpson
Maria Parker-Lewis takes a moment to enjoy the interior design of her latest business venture – The Sycamore at Chatham Mills. She and her husband, Greg Lewis, also own Forest Hall at Chatham Mills and 39 West Catering. Maria is board president of Main Street Pittsboro and vice president and events committee chair of the Pittsboro Business Association.
Maria Parker-Lewis and her husband, Greg Lewis, opened the Pittsboro Roadhouse in 2012. The restaurant and music venue closed in 2020, but the pair remain active in their other ventures: The Sycamore at Chatham Mills, Forest Hall at Chatham Mills and 39 West Catering. She is originally from Pineville, Pennsylvania, and moved to Silk Hope in 2007, drawn to its rural charm. She and Greg have three daughters: Angelina, 17, who attends Chatham School of Science and Engineering; Adelena, 22, who recently graduated from Temple University; and Arianna, 25, who attends Wake Technical Community College.
A global pandemic couldn’t stop Maria’s drive to share. In fact, it kicked her tenacity for community involvement into high gear.
In March 2020, the first month of the statewide shutdown, Maria reached out to Panda Packs, a volunteer effort ensuring Pittsboro Elementary School students have enough to eat when they aren’t in school. Maria and her husband, Greg, suggested Panda Packs use the Pittsboro Roadhouse as a resource to prep and store meals. The couple eventually expanded their personal efforts to support other Chatham schools, Chatham Outreach Alliance (CORA) and Communities in Schools of Chatham County. A year later, the couple still donates up to 40 meals every week.
Maria and Greg catered numerous fundraisers for community organizations including Main Street Pittsboro, Abundance NC and Chatham Literacy during the eight years the Roadhouse was open. They also worked with volunteers to deliver meals to seniors on Sundays, a day Chatham County Council on Aging doesn’t make its rounds. “Everyone has their thing that they can bring to the table,” Maria says. “Food is the thing we can bring to the literal table.”
Providing meals isn’t the only way Maria gives back; she’s also heavily involved in supporting her community through her roles with Main Street Pittsboro and the Pittsboro Business Association. Some of her happiest memories are of Summerfest and Holly Days, two of the Pittsboro Business Association’s annual events. “You can see everybody truly being in the moment and enjoying themselves,” Maria says.
Maria first got involved with the Pittsboro Business Association when she and Greg moved to Chatham. Both grew up in rural Pennsylvania and wanted to raise their daughters someplace similar. The county’s bucolic character drew them in, but the community they found in downtown Pittsboro was the finishing touch. “The center of town feels like home because we all know one another,” Maria says. Those relationships that Maria cultivates are what make her work so meaningful, she says.
She is collaborating with Ashlie Campbell and Shana O’Leary of An Acquired Style to design the interior of the new gourmet steakhouse, The Sycamore at Chatham Mills. “We work with so many people who bring their gifts, their advice and their vision to [our projects],” Maria says. “There’s just an energy that comes about when you can all see the same thing … it just becomes fuller than if one person was seeing it and directing it themselves.”
Whether she’s sharing her creativity or a meal, Maria is an enthusiastic, dedicated giver. “I don’t have to go through a thought process,” she says. “… There’s more than enough to go around.”