White widow Bea Pullman and her daughter Jessie take in black housekeeper Delilah Johnson and her daughter, light-complexioned Peola, exchanging room and board for work. They quickly become like family. They particularly enjoy Delilah's pancakes, made from a special family recipe. When Bea is unable to make a living selling pancake syrup (as her husband had done), she comes up with the idea to open a pancake restaurant (using Delilah's recipe and labor) on the boardwalk, which is very profitable. Later, at the suggestion of Elmer Smith, she sets up an even more successful pancake flour corporation, marketing Delilah as an Aunt Jemima-like figure. As a result, Bea becomes a wealthy business woman, but all is not found to be well as the story advances fifteen years. Eighteen-year-old Jessie falls in love with her mother's boyfriend, Steven Archer, who is unaware at first of her affections. Meanwhile, Peola, ashamed of her African-American heritage, attempts to pass as white, breaking Delilah's heart. Peola eventually runs away from home. While she is away, Delilah falls ill and dies. Delilah wished for a large, grand funeral, which Bea provides for her, complete with a marching band and a horse-drawn hearse. Just before the processional begins, a remorseful, crying Peola appears, begging her mother to forgive her. The film ends with Bea breaking her engagement with Steven because of the situation with Jessie.