If you're hankering for some delicious country smoked sausage and country milled grits, take a leisurely drive up Centerville Road towards Bradley's Country Store. I would suggest putting on some Creedence Clearwater Revival during the ride to put you in the right mood. As you approach Bradley's, you'll surely come to realize how fitting the name is. This quaint little establishment sits under the cool shade of some giant oaks, protected from the pull of time.
Bradley's has been around since 1927 and during its life it hasn't troubled itself to keep up with the aesthetics of modern mega marts. Stepping into the store, it becomes obvious why. There is no real reason to. The mood of Bradley's Country Store has been cultivated through four generations of the Bradley family. The place definitely has character. The aisles lack flashy signs and gaudy product displays so it's clear that Bradley's values function more so than form.
On the way towards the back you can see pieces of Tallahassee history on the walls. Trinkets from those simpler times hang from the walls displaying tools of old. During my first visit I found myself a little unsure about the year I was in. The wooden shelves and sepia photographs on the wall took me back to what my young mind considered the early 1940's or 1950's. You'd be hard pressed to find the same down home country feel in your neighborhood Publix or Wal-Mart.
Bradley's Country Store isn't a big deal because it's old, even though historical significance isn't something to overlook. It's a big deal due to its flagship products: Bradley's Country Smoked Sausage and their Country Milled Grits. Now you see, this sausage draws people in from all over northern Florida and other surrounding areas due to its delicious nature. Biting into this sausage is like tasting a bit of history. It's been seasoned and smoked according to a century old recipe created by Grandma Mary Bradley, the very same recipe that she used to make the sausages in her own kitchen in 1910.
This style of sausage was different than the chorizo that I was used to. This country sausage had a smoky flavor and had some kick to it. I took a few pounds home and had it with some home fries, biscuits and gravy. A nice hearty breakfast.
If you take a step out back behind the store you can see the small barn that houses grits mill. Mr. L. E. Bradley purchased the machine in the 1920's to mill his own corn into fine cornmeal or coarse grits. Pretty soon he began to mill corn for local farmers and sharecroppers every weekend. The business went so well that he started stocking it on the shelves for anybody to purchase. To this day the machine sees a lot of action since the client base has grown thanks to online orders and fervent word of mouth.
A visit to Bradley's Country Store makes for a great trip to see a side of Florida that's preserved in time. Pick up some tasty sausages and grits while you're at it to taste some of Florida's history.