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Justin Jones: The Taste of Sweet Potato Pies Along With Sweet Success

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Justin Jones, co-owner of Sweet Daddy’s Sweet Potato Pies in Birmingham. (Barnett Wright, The Birmingham Times)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | For The Birmingham Times

He started off as a kitchen helper for his mother and grandmother while they baked sweet potato pies in Birmingham’s Central Park community.

Justin Jones, co-owner of Sweet Daddy’s Sweet Potato Pies in Birmingham, would taste the desserts and would ask his mother, Rena Jones, and grandmother, Johnnie Mae Lewis, to tweak them based on his palate.

“If I felt like it needed a little bit more of something …  more sugar …  more vanilla …  they would make their pies according to my taste,” said Jones.

And when his mother became tapped out making sweet potato pies (she’d made so many and was tired of making them for the holidays), her son stepped up.

“Somewhere around 2020 … I would make them for her. Then my wife’s family got a taste of the pies too, and so many people wanted me to make sweet potato pies in the family, so I just said, “You know, I’m going to start charging people for these,” said Jones.

And Sweet Daddy’s Sweet Potato Pies were born. Justin started making pies in his own kitchen in Center Point for the holidays and delivering them to family members.

Not only does Jones make sweet potato pies, which is “my mom’s recipe and I just tweaked it to my taste buds,” but his homemade dessert lineup also includes pecan and apple pies, as well as peach cobbler.

And each dessert has a gluten-free option.

Birmingham’s Best

The 38-year-old Jones is Birmingham born and bred. “I grew up on the West side of Birmingham, in the Central Park and Green Acres areas.”

He’s a 2004 graduate of Midfield High School and although he knew he wanted to be a businessman, his life didn’t take the path he expected.

He and wife Charity, who’s also co-owner of Sweet Daddy’s Sweet Potato Pies, have six children between them both and a one-year-old granddaughter.

“Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” said Jones. “But I thought I was going to play football all my life (he was a running back and strong safety at Midfield High) and (I thought) that was going to support my dream.”

Jones graduated high school in 2004 and then played football for the now-closed Concordia College in Selma.

“All in one year, I transferred from Concordia College in 2005, then finished the school year at Miles College, and then went to the Army stationed at Vilseck, Germany where I stayed two years and worked as a generator mechanic,” said Jones.

After the military, Jones went to Norfolk Southern in Irondale in 2018 and in 2021, he was hired at Nucor Steel in Birmingham, which was his last job before launching his business in September 2023.

It’s Moving Fast

Jones recently celebrated his 38th birthday in February and celebrated four years of marriage to Charity on March 9.

He sets up at various markets with a tent (with the Sweet Daddy Pies logo) and a table to sell his desserts.

Most weeks, his schedule is pretty set with fresh pies ready by the weekend.

He works from a community kitchen in Hoover, where several small businesses rent kitchen space that comes with appliances and tools.

“Normally, I start cooking on Wednesday and have it (pies) packed up by Thursday and Friday and have them fresh and ready to go on Saturday morning for market.”

Jones delivers to various customers, including businesses, throughout the week.

When at his markets, Jones said he loves to do more than just sell. “I like talking to my customers while they eat my pies,” he said. “That’s one of the things I enjoy the most about setting up at our markets – meeting and talking to our customers face-to-face.”

Markets included in Sweet Daddy’s rotation include locations from Pepper Place in Birmingham to Ross Bridge in Hoover.

For those who want to get into business, Jones offers this advice. “Don’t be intimidated and don’t be scared, just trust the process,” he said. “Always be confident and make connections. Network, network, network – it’s a big part of what I do. I like to talk to people and get to know them and you never know who you come across that can help you and help your business grow.”

He adds, “at first when you start, it might be kind of slow. Keep networking so you can get to bigger markets, and you’ll find your way and that builds confidence.

To place an order call Jones at 205-801-6219, he said, or Instagram @SweetDaddyPies, where Jones and his team post their market schedule.