And Along Came Annie

In the early days of Lakemont Georgia the general store known as ‘Alley’s Grocery’ was the hub of activity for the little community which had grown up around Lake Rabun and the Tallulah Railroad.  Located just across the road from the railroad depot it was the place where people congregated while waiting for the train.  It served as the post office, as well as the message and communications center for the area and supplied the locals and summer visitors with groceries, hardware, ice and bait.
It continued to do so even after the demise of the railroad and long after the depot became a thing of the past.  Continuously owned and operated by the Alley family until the winter of 2008 the store has remained a landmark in Rabun county and many local residents and visitors alike have stories to share about their visits there.

In 2008 the store had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being closed due to the declining health of the 2nd generation owner, Lamar Alley.  Enter Annie Westermann.  Annie had already restored 3 other historical structures in the small town and surrounding area so Alley’s Grocery was the 4th project for the historical preservationist/landscape designer.  In this writer’s opinion it may have been her most important project so far because it now continues to be what it has always been…the hub of a small mountain community.  After doing extensive renovations to the building Annie reopened the store in March of 2009. Today, Alley’s Grocery is still in operation, now known as Annie’s At Alley’s Market & Deli it continues to serve the community it has been a part for 87 years, not only as a market and deli, but also as a meeting place for area residents and visitors.  While other mom & pop stores across the country have lost the battle to survive in this modern world, this little piece of American history still thrives here in the NE Georgia Mountains.  As someone who has truly fallen in love with this place and it’s people I hope to play a part in keeping it that way.

If any of you reading this post have stories to tell about the old Alley’s Grocery please contact me (Tanya) at anniesatalleys@gmail.com  I would be interested in hearing your story and possibly telling it here on the blog.  Eventually I hope to collect enough stories to put together a small book about the history of the store and the village of Lakemont.  Or, if you are in the area stop by and share your story personally.  Whether you have a story or not we invite you to stop by whenever you are in the area and sit a spell.

Let Me Introduce Myself

My name is Tanya Smith and I will be managing Annie’s at Alley’s Market and Deli throughout the year ahead.  I took on the responsibility of manager in November to give Annie the opportunity to pursue other projects and still keep the store open.  Having only worked at the market/deli part-time for a little over a year I realize that many of you have never met me and know nothing about me or my background.  I thought this would be a good place to introduce myself and tell you a little about me.  I hope to meet all of you in the near future and look forward to us getting to know one another in the months ahead…for now here is my story…

Born and raised in the small high desert town of Palmdale California many of my best childhood memories revolve around a small grocery/deli Lori’s Store, owned by the grandparents of one of my childhood friends.  I remember what a special treat it was to dip into the icy cooler and pull out a bottle of soda or an ice cream bar, or choose a candy bar from the shelf.  My friend and I would often sit out on the porch of the store and enjoy our goodies while my parents shopped or discussed the latest news with the grandfather…thus my love affair with country stores began.  Throughout my lifetime I came across many other small country or community stores and they always exuded such charm…from the Mediterranean Market in Carmel California we frequented on visits to my oldest brothers home in nearby Monterey, to the small mom & pop market, Hill Street Grocery down the street from our home in La Grange Georgia, I always loved these small family owned stores…there is a very special sense of community about them.  My husband of 35 years, Tim, shares my love of small stores and has his own childhood memories of growing up around one such market, TP Market, owned by his uncle and where his dad worked.  We have often talked about perhaps one day owning our own little country store and/or small restaurant, so for us Annie’s is the perfect opportunity to test the waters.  I first discovered Annie’s while a friend and I were out photographing in the area.  A few weeks later my job with the census bureau afforded me the pleasure of getting to know the area and its local citizens and Annie’s became my favorite stop for lunch.  On my last day with the census bureau I stopped in for a sort of farewell lunch and mentioned to Annie that if she ever needed some extra help I would love to work at the store…the rest is history.

In addition to my love for country stores, I have worked in the food service industry for over 25 years as everything from bus-girl to food prep/cook to manager.  I also have extensive retail experience in sales, management and marketing and have owned my own small business…AND I love people.  I truly believe that everything happens for a reason…nothing happens by chance…so here we are.

I have been holding down the fort during the winter months, and my husband Tim has been helping some on weekends which he will continue to do as we move into the busier season. Also, for any of you wondering, Stacye will be back in the spring along with all of her delicious salads.   We all look forward to seeing you whenever you are in the area.  And I look forward to meeting and getting to know every one of you in the coming months.  We all promise to do our best to continue to serve the community of Lakemont and surrounding area, all of our friends and guests here at Annie’s At Alley’s Market & Deli.

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear…

HOLIDAY HOURS AND SPECIALS

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our friends and customers from the crew at Annie’s At Alley’s…we wish you a blessed and beautiful time with family and friends.

We also want to remind you (or make you aware) of some things we can do to help you with your entertainment plans.  We are now offering ‘Pot’o’Soup-to-Go’, Breakfast Casserole, Party Platters and Black-eyed Pea Salsa along with our ever popular ‘Pimento Cheese Spread’.  We would also be happy to cook you a big pot of Black-eyed Peas and/or Collards for your New Year’s Day dinner.  Let us help you with your holiday party or get-together. We require at least 2 days notice for all of the listed items so please call 706-212-0207, or stop by Annie’s, for further information or to place an order.
Also, just in time for holiday entertaining all of our beers and some wines are now on sale at 25% to 50% off.  And don’t forget our Bloody Mary and Margarita Mixes, and variety of delicious nuts from Blue Bay.

Following is our schedule at Annie’s At Alley’s for the next 2 weeks…
Monday Dec. 19 – 10am to 4pm
Tuesday – CLOSED
Wednesday/Thursday/Friday Dec. 21-23 – 10am to 4pm
CLOSED Dec. 24 – 27
Wednesday/Thursday/Friday Dec. 28-30 – 10am to 4pm
CLOSED Saturday Dec. 31 and Sunday Jan. 1, 2012

We will RE-OPEN Monday Jan. 2 with the following schedule for the remainder of the winter unless otherwise dictated by weather conditions or possibly a vacation the end of January.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 11am to 2pm
Friday & Saturday 10am to 5pm
CLOSED Tuesday and Sunday.

SOUP’S ON ~ DAY 2

Umm umm good!!!  This hearty, rustic Brunswick Stew was a staple at a small cafe (The Baron York) where I worked for over 6 years.  Named ‘Millers Stew’ in honor of one of our regular customers, Dr. Miller, who ate a bowl of it every time he came to lunch…and often took a bowl or 2 home with him for dinner!

I am pleased to have the recipe and permission to use it now so I can share it with my new friends at Annie’s.  Made with beef, pork and chicken, slow cooked with a special mesquite seasoning and BBQ sauce, then combined with corn and tomatoes, this is a stew packed with flavor…perfect for a cold winter day.  Or order a ‘Soup-to-Go’ pot for a great evening meal on a cold winter night.
Come check out this delicous Stew during our ‘Soup Tasting’ Saturday Dec. 10 from 11am – 7pm as part of our ‘Christmas In Lakemont’ event!

SOUP’S ON

As the winter season sets in here in the mountains of northeastern Georgia we begin the season of hibernation…a time of slowing down the pace, resting, conserving energy and building our strength for the coming spring.  For me a staple of winter has always been soup ~ be it Chili, Chowder, Stew or good Old Fashion Chicken Soup ~ these hearty and healthful bowls of goodness bring comfort and nourishment to me and my family on cold winter days and evenings.  And so, throughout the winter months here at Annie’s At Alley’s Deli we will be offering up a variety of soups to help our customers take the chill off.  Whether you just need a bowl for lunch or a pot for your family dinner you can count on us.  This coming Saturday, Dec.10, we will be offering ‘Soup Tasting’.  Then beginning next week and continuing throughout the remainder of the month and in January and February we will be offering ‘Soup To Go’…just call at least 2 days ahead and we will have a ‘pot’ of your choice of soup ready for you to pick up and take home.

Today I am introducing the first of our new soups…Hearty Lentil & Vegetable. 

This soup is full of nutrition and goodness…from the protein rich lentils to the antioxidant packed chard I believe you will find it to be both tasty and satisfying.  This is a purely vegetarian soup for our customers who refrain from eating meat and also great if you are ‘gluten intolerant’.

Stop by for a bowl or a taste.
Get it while it is hot!

CHRISTMAS IN LAKEMONT

SATURDAY DEC. 10th extended hours at Annie’s At Alley’s and The Lakemont Gallery.
Annie’s will be open from 8:30am to 7:00pm
We will be serving ‘Breakfast Caserole’ and fresh Homemade Blueberry Muffins in the deli from 8:30 to 11:00am…if we have a good response this could become a winter tradition.
FREE coffee or hot tea.
There will be sales and samples of some of our soups and other goodies.
25% OFF 6 packs of beer.
Gift Certificates for Annie’s will be available for purchase.
Don’t forget our 2nd Level Art Gallery and Mountain Moss Gifts…both great places to find unique gifts for the special people on your list.
Come celebrate the season with us…make new friends while keeping the old ones…
We look forward to seeing you and serving your needs throughout the winter months!

December Specials and Events

Just a reminder that Annie’s At Alley’s Market & Deli in Historic Lakemont Village will be OPEN THIS WINTER.  In addition to our deli lunches and groceries we have a unique selection of antiques, garden decor, decorating books and art in our 2nd Level Gallery and Mountain Moss Gifts…come find that special, one-of-a-kind Christmas gift.  And while you’re there grab a bowl of one of our delicious soups or one of our great sandwiches…come in this weekend (Dec. 3-5) and mention that you saw this on the blog to get $1 off any sandwich.  We will be open Saturday Dec. 3
9am – 5pm and Sunday Dec. 4 12pm – 4pm and Monday Dec. 5 10am – 4pm. Hope to see you soon!
REMINDER…SATURDAY DEC. 10th…CHRISTMAS IN LAKEMONT…
extended hours at Annie’s At Alley’s and The Lakemont Gallery…both open until 7pm.  Annie’s will also open one half hour early and be serving ‘Breakfast Caserole’ and FREE coffee or hot tea from 8:30 to 11:00.  There will be sales going on store wide all day and samples of some of our soups and other goodies…come celebrate the season with us!

CHILI COOKOFF WINNERS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

The 3rd Annual Chili Cook-off was SO MUCH FUN!!!  Tim and I had a great time meeting new friends and chatting with some we have known for a while…
Before I announce the winner’s I just wanted to say THANK YOU to Stacye Bramblett for all of her help before, during and after the cook-off – I could not have done it without her!  And THANKS to all who attended…both the contestants and guests……for making the 3rd Annual Chili Cook-off the best!!!
And the winners are (drum roll)….
1st Place with his wonderful ‘Bison Chili’…Dan Morse.  Dan received a $20 gift certificate to Annie’s to use at his discretion.  Congratulations Dan!
2nd Place with her ‘Low-sodium Chili’ was Helen Moore.  Helen received a coupon for a free lunch at Annie’s.  Congratulations Helen!
Thanks to all our contestants…so glad I had help choosing the winners because in my opinion you are all winners.
SAVE THE DATE:  December 10th…CHRISTMAS IN LAKEMONT VILLAGE…extended store hours, refreshments and special sales all day…additional details coming soon.
Also keep checking here for future events as the winter months encroach upon us…we are planning to do a few special events throughout the winter which may include music, games, and most of all FUN for our community!  So stay tuned for updates.

3rd Annual Chili Cook-off

3rd Annual Annie’s At Alley’s Chili Cook-off

WHEN:  Saturday Nov. 26, 2011  6 to 9pm
WHERE: Annie’s At Alley’s Old Hwy 441 in Lakemont, GA
Please bring your Chili creation in a crockpot or slow-cooker to Annie’s
by 6pm to enter it in the contest.
Prizes will be awarded for the top 2 winners!
1st Prize – $20 gift certificate for use at Annie’s;
2nd Prize – Free Lunch for 1 at Annie’s

Judging will be by popular vote so bring enough for everyone to have a taste
and invite your friends and family.  The more the merrier!!

Annie’s will provide toppings, chips, soft-drinks and hot beverages and deserts.

Beer and Wine will be available for purchase.
Please join us as we kick off the first ever winter season for
Annie’s At Alley’s Market and Deli.