SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's not just the coffee at the Gilded Pear Brew House that keeps Bobbie Smale coming back. On any given day, you can find her there eating local or hosting an event.
"You get an experience that's a little different from anywhere else local," said Smale. "I know the owners are pouring their hearts and soul in this business and I'm supporting local businesses."
For three years the coffee shop has been a big draw along Market Street in downtown Smithfield. Inside you'll find the owner, Gloria Brindle, a teacher turned entrepreneur who is a strong believer in what it means to be Smithfield strong.
She opened her doors during the pandemic. Many days she is still in awe at how this community showed up to keep her doors open.
"Everyone rallied and said what can we do to help," questioned Brindle. "That's why I think Smithfield is growing. People want to be part of a community where people look out for each other."
According to Census data, there were 10,966 people living in Smithfield. Ten years later the population has reached 11, 292.
"It's gradual, which is what I want it to be. I don't want Smithfield to just explode overnight. We want a planned and organized growth," Mayor Andy Moore.
Moore is homegrown. He is a proud graduate of Smithfield-Selma High School who made history as the youngest person ever elected to the town council. He told ABC11, that over the years he's made it his business to plan for the expected growth. He believes the big draw is the sense of community that's still prevalent here.
"You see the houses being built. We just finished the brand new amphitheater down by the Neuse River," said Moore. "Neighbors still bring people pies when they move into the neighborhood. They still check on their neighbors."
It's something Jason and Anne Evans love most about living there.
"We went on vacation and left the house for about a week. We've got neighbors who are collecting our mail and checking on the place for us," said Jason Evans.
It's been a little over a year since they built their home. Anne Evans said she can't imagine raising their son anywhere else.
"Our neighbors next door have adopted us. They are like extended family and are in their 80's. They come over on Christmas and bring our son Christmas and birthday presents," she said.
The Evans run a family-owned jewelry store downtown. They look forward to more foot traffic as the town grows.
They believe when new businesses move in it helps bring money to those that are already there like the Gilded Pear.
"It's just a wonderful place to be. You park and you're within walking distance of anywhere you'd want to go," said Smale.