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that you have a DIETITIAN on call? A fresh roast in the foreground, customers load their plates with meatloaf, rolls, mashed potatoes and green beans. Holly Kays photo his goes, his is all about the work and the food. And he’s real laid-back. I’m not so laid-back.” Teresa describes her husband as “the hardest-working person I know,” a “people pleaser” who knows the food business inside and out. Teresa is a hard worker herself but concentrates more on the bookkeeping and paperwork, making sure that the scene is set to support the hard work of all those involved in Granny’s Kitchen’s success.

DELICIOUS FAMILIARITY If Granny’s Kitchen were a movie, then the credits would feature an endless reel of supporting roles played by the countless people who have patronized the business over the years. “Our locals have been our advertisers,” Teresa said. “When we got that place we didn’t have anything. We had to borrow money to make the down payment on the lease. We probably had $300 in the bank. But that’s just the thing is we couldn’t afford to advertise. We couldn’t do a whole lot of stuff, so it was just our local people and word of mouth that’s helped us out.” Developing a hallmark of friendly service and appreciation of local patrons has proven a winning business strategy, but it also stems from a belief in the power of a tasty meal or genuine smile to change the trajectory of a person’s day. “You may be the only person that has the opportunity to make them feel better that day,” Teresa said. “So be as nice and kind and friendly as you can. You can’t please everybody, but you can always try to make people feel better.” That concoction of delicious food, homey atmosphere and friendly service has created something that resonates with locals and visitors alike. Granny’s is a

popular lunch spot for people in Cherokee, and Dwight has no problem listing off various customers who routinely drive from much longer distances to get some of his roast turkey and dressing. There’s lady who lived out past Hendersonville and would drive two hours every Wednesday just to have some roast beef, until she got sick last year and could no longer make the trip. And there’s another guy who lives out in Haywood County’s Jonathan Creek area and comes over almost every day for a meal. For many of these folks, familiarity is the draw. Though Granny’s staff has grown from about 15 in the early years to 48 now, many of the same employees have stayed on year after year, and even decade after decade. The menu, too, has seen little change, though not for lack of effort. “We’ve tried to change the menu a couple of times, and it’s almost caused a revolt,” Teresa laughed. So, Granny’s Kitchen has kept to tradition, giving the people what they want — the comfort and stable familiarity that most people expect to find in their grandmother’s kitchen. And Teresa is OK with that. Looking back at it she’s proud of the business that she, Ray and their children have built over the last three decades. “The biggest thing is you’re only as good as the worst employees you’ve got, and we’ve got some pretty daggone good ones,” she said. “We couldn’t do anything if it wasn’t for the people that we have working, and we wouldn’t be able to keep them working if it weren’t for the people coming in the front door. To be able to be born and raised in Cherokee, and to be able to make my living there and give back what I can to the community — that’s about the best you can hope for.”

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN


Did you know... is the Corporate Dietitian for

Ingles Markets. She can answer your questions about food from the farm to the plate, whether you want to know about nutrition, ingredients, preparation or agriculture. Leah is a registered dietitian nutritionist, licensed in the state of North Carolina. She has a B.S. in Human Nutrition from the University of Maryland, completed her dietetic internship with the U.S. Army, served as an officer and dietitian in the U.S. Army and worked in Public Health as a WIC and Nutrition Director in South Carolina. For the past 17 years Leah has been the Corporate Dietitian for Ingles Markets. Her passion to learn more about the food system has led her to visit over 50 farms( of all sizes) and food entrepreneurs in the past 5 years. She is also actively involved with farmers and food businesses in Western NC and works regularly with ASAP ( Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

Stay connected with Leah! Listen to her podcast interviews at Listen to her every Saturday morning on WWNC 570am on iheartradio Read her columns in the Smoky Mountain News and in Smoky Mountain Living If you have questions write to her at: Call her: 800-334-4936


Women in Business 2017  
Women in Business 2017