Welcome back to the Locke Store blog! Featuring our second employee spotlight: Casey Miller, Front of House (FOH) Manager. She and I took a quick break on the porch, together with some coffee and lemon poppyseed cake, and I found out what makes her tick and all the things she loves about Locke Store.
After only a year, Casey’s role has slowly evolved from that of general FOH employee to both FOH Manager, catering coordinator, “and coffee-drinker extraordinaire!” she reminds me. With her background in sales, marketing, and customer service, the job is a natural fit for her. While living in Chicago, Casey worked her way up the ranks at a large catering company, moving from customer service, to corporate accounts manager, to sales director. But last summer, she and her fiancé made the move back to their roots in Virginia to reconnect with friends and family. With just one week of job searching, Casey found Locke Store and joined the ‘Ladies of Locke’.
Working with such a tight-knit staff in small quarters, certain roles form organically. Casey’s tendency to seek out challenges led her to leap right into the center of things. “I like to keep myself busy,” she says, “I made myself a bit of a pest so I could have more and more to do.” And there is certainly plenty to do at Locke Store every day of the week! With a new catering menu in the works, Casey hopes to streamline our catering model while keeping it aligned with our commitment to local and made-fresh-daily cooking. She has also been hard at work organizing and overseeing our increasingly busy FOH operations, as well as overseeing purchasing of specialty goods, artisanal cheeses, and craft beer.
Casey is all about connecting to the community and creating a feeling of family. Even from her first day at Locke Store, she felt the love first hand: “I see that warm welcome from the FOH team when a customer walks in the door, and it’s special every single time.” She sees that kind of face-to-face customer service as a dying art, something she missed while living in a large city, but can now embrace again. At Locke Store, we get to cultivate relationships with our customers, our distributers, and all our local farmers. We not only learn customers’ favorite foods, we learn about their lives, their joys, and their troubles. People come to our store to meet their friends, to indulge in a quick break from work, and to find comfort in community. As Casey says, “Food is comfort,” and we have plenty of it here!
Our goal is always to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and provide the best possible options from our “Little Kitchen That Could”. “At the heart of it, food should make you happy,” Casey says, and “as the experts of our craft, we have a responsibility to create an easy transition from our kitchen to the customer’s table”. What sets Locke Store apart is that we cherish our customers and thrive on sharing our exceptional food and excellent customer service. Are you planning a family gathering? We have prepared for you some of our famous chicken potpie and one of pastry chef Katie’s beautiful rustic tarts for dessert. Or are you in need of a quantity of bagged lunches full of our fresh salads, sandwiches, and cookies? If you’re looking for suggestions, don’t be surprised if Casey recommends her all-time favorites like macaroni and cheese and all variations of our chicken salad! Casey says enthusiastically, “We all enjoy food!” and it is one of the things that ties us all together.
“The warmest feeling,” she says, “is when people say our food reminds them of a great memory from the past. ‘This mac and cheese tastes like my mom’s’ or ‘Katie’s cookies taste like grandma’s.’ It’s all home-cooked, with love, and it makes a difference.” It’s those little connections, to the past and to other people, that reflect the small world of Locke Store.
Soon after joining our team, Casey had her own uncanny small world experience. We often have people visiting the store as they used to when they were children, or asking about the rich history of the store within the community, or even seeking information about old Millwood residents. One day, though, Casey answered a phone call that went beyond all that. The woman on the phone was searching for information about her great grandfather, whom she had never met. She knew his name, his birthday, and that he frequented Locke Store. But then, she said something that gave Casey goosebumps: she said her great grandfather lived on the same farm where Casey now lives. “It was a serendipity moment.”
We experience a lot of those serendipity moments at Locke Store. Just being able to connect with our customers on a personal level makes it all worth it.
Next time you swing by the store, be sure to listen for Casey’s signature “Hi there!” – she will be ready to greet you!
Until next time….
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