Since August 2015, WILLow LeaVes of Hope has offered area residents an escape from the ordinary dining experience with their dinner theater and stage for community theater. Recently, Vickie Tedder, one of WILLow LeaVes owners, took some time to offer insight about the business and her hopes for it in the future.
For those who have never been to WILLow LeaVes, how would you describe it?
We are an antique store and within it we have a dining room that is open four days each week. And we have a stage where we host events as our little Opry and then the dinner theaters for the Actors Studio of Hope.
How did you decide on the name?
It's a mixture of all my family together. We used the W from our maiden name, which is Wasson, my father's name is Ike, my mother's name is Lavon, and then Lisa, Laura, Vickie.
Why the willow tree?
The meaning of the willow tree is part of why we named it willow leaves. The meaning of the willow tree is fulfilling wishes of the heart, learning from the past and inner visions and dreams.
How did the idea come about to open?
Well, basically we all were born and raised here in Hope. Mom and dad lived in the same home while we were raised. I've owned a business on the east side of the square for 30 years. I watched Strawberry Fields being busy. The thought of this side being scarce and vacated and with the family relationship we have with the landlords -- they've been part of our church family for years while we were growing up -- we knew working with them was something we could make happen. We have passion for antiques as well.
What types of antique items do you normally carry?
A little bit of anything, including vintage antiques to repurposed items. We also have custom made florals -- new and old together.
What kinds of challenges have you run into with the business?
I don't know that we would do anything different. The challenges have been learning the processes of a restaurant. That part has been a big learning experience.
What food items do you sell?
Every day you can count on either grilled sloppy Joe sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, grilled cheese and our smoked pork that we do in-house. And we always have a quiche of the day and soup of the day.
What do you enjoy most about the business?
Making people happy.
How long do shows generally run?
Two weeks in a row.
How can people book an event?
If it is available, whatever day and time -- it is a matter of coordinating schedules. We do lots of church groups, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, etc...
Where do you see it the business growing in the coming years?
Our evening stuff being very busy. When the Opry schedule started we had it scheduled out a year in advance. It is how the building is going to stay alive - the dinner theaters, the Opry and any special event someone wants to hold.