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In the more than 105 years that Floyd Country Store has operated, it has never been known for its food—unless you count the feed farmers purchased for their livestock. However, since husband-and-wife team Dylan Locke and Heather Krantz took over the store less than two years ago, food is quickly earning its place next to its famous sister: the Friday Nite Jamboree.
Floyd Country Store began its existence as a local mercantile/farm supply store back in June 1910. It was named Farmer’s Supply and continued in that vein through the Floyd generations.
In November of 2014, Locke and Krantz became Floyd Country Store’s newest owners. The store had, by this time, gone through an extensive renovation and become known nationally as a beloved Appalachian music venue. Krantz says she and Locke consider themselves incredibly fortunate to be trustees of a place central to Floyd’s culture.
Because Floyd’s generational pulse runs so strong through Floyd Country Store, Locke and Krantz spent their first six months of ownership observing.
“We were just in shock,” laughs Krantz, her easy admission revealing her self-effacing personality. “We didn’t feel like it was our role as owners to make a lot of changes.”
However, as a passionate cook and self-proclaimed “picky” person, Krantz knew early on she would make the food side of Floyd Country Store her own.
“The store was never really designed to make the kinds of foods we are doing now,” she says. “It was supposed to be a quick hot dog and pimento cheese sandwich place.”
Using her food passion, “pickiness” and years of past experience in food service, Krantz began systematically making small adjustments. She swapped out the old two-foot sandwich making station for a new one three times longer. She started buying all her ingredients fresh and local when in season and making everything from scratch. She—with the help of her team—expanded the menu until it felt comfortably varied. She tapped into her two primary cooks—Ann Christensen and Stephanie Blankenship—and their natural affinities for food preparation. One, Christensen, loves experimentation and cooking with fresh ingredients in season. She is Floyd Country Store’s nighttime “food fairy,” in charge of preparing quiches, soups and cheesecakes. Krantz’s other cook, Blankenship loves to follow a recipe and reproduce old-time southern favorites. She cooks during daytime hours and is responsible for keeping Floyd Country Store’s classics—like macaroni salad and homestyle mac-n-cheese—classic.
Krantz says she has the best of both worlds in her chefs. But she says it’s her entire team that has made the dining traffic at Floyd Country Store quadruple since she and Locke took ownership. “The team I have back there is incredible. They take their job seriously; they care about this place. They care about this community and it shows in their faces.”
This passion was obvious the day I interviewed Krantz. Before leaving, she insisted I take with me a few samples—just their staples, she said. She came back with two large bags filled to the brim with food. She handed me the bags grinning sheepishly but proud. “My team kept adding things they wanted you to try.”
Though considered a simple soup, sandwich and dessert shop, the food at Floyd Country Store conveys a culinary expertise and care that is neither pretentious nor stuffy. Rather it is—in the best of ways—just plain good. The tuna salad, served atop a bed of fresh greens, with bacon, feta and beet eggs (hard-boiled eggs soaked in beet juice) is a song to summertime: a saturation of colors, textures and flavors. The curry chicken salad’s strength is its balanced nature—no ingredient (aka: curry) overpowers the others. Their BLT and turkey Reuben—like all their sandwiches—are classics with a backbone; each one stands solidly in its own unique goodness. Their hummus, pimento and pickled chow chow are all fun side feasts. And their cheese biscuits and mac-n-cheese will transport you back to the church potlucks of your youth.
So will their desserts, an aspect of Floyd Country Store’s food Krantz hopes to expand in the future. I’ve enjoyed both peanut butter pie and hazelnut cheesecake, taking several sittings to eat each so as to extend the indulgence. They also serve Hershey’s ice cream and make yummy shakes my kids never turn down when given the opportunity.
And don’t be surprised to find some not-so-traditional offerings at Floyd Country Store, too. I ordered the lemon-asparagus soup (one of Christensen’s experiments) off the Specials menu, more out of curiosity than expectation. My curiosity was rewarded. Even better, as I sat there enjoying this simple springtime soup, I found myself remembering my mother’s asparagus patch that grew in a messy thick row behind my childhood farm home.
For Krantz this is the way food should be—fresh, simple, wholesome and infused with love. “It might only be a tuna salad sandwich,” she says, “but when it’s made with love, it’s gonna be really good.”
Floyd Country Store, 206 South Locust Street, Floyd
Monday-Thursday: 10-5; Friday: 10-10:30;
Saturday: 10 -6; Sunday: 11-6