RAINBOW CITY / BIRMINGHAM – Jodie Stanfield has been in the restaurant business for 32 years. While he has been associated with TGI Fridays, LongHorn Steakhouse and Applebee’s, mostly in the Birmingham market, he returned to his native Etowah County eight years ago to combine his passion for food with his love for everything local.
He and his wife, Karen, own and operate Local Joe’s, a farm-to-plate and barbecue restaurant, market, bakery and caterer in Rainbow City and Alexandria. There is also a licensed location of Local Joe’s in Cave Spring, Georgia. The meat is local, the produce is local, so are the jams, jellies, candles, baked goods, honey, wine, syrup, cheeses and more. “We sell a lot of items made in this area,” Jodie said during an interview in front of his Rainbow City location. He is one of four chefs for the restaurants, while Karen is behind the counter, in the office or scheduling catering jobs.
Today, the Stanfields and Local Joe’s were named Alabama’s 2017 Gold Retailers of the Year in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million category. The Alabama Retail Association honored the couple at the Alabama Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham, which is held in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business.
“One only needs to taste the signature smoked turkey to understand why, exactly, Local Joe’s deserves to be Retailer of the Year,” said Heather New, president of The Chamber, Gadsden/Etowah County, who nominated the Stanfields for the honor. Besides great food, “they have always supported the community that supported them,” said Leslie Stephens, operations director for The Chamber. Local Joe’s is also a member of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce.
During National Small Business Week earlier this year, the U.S. Small Business Administration named Jodie as the 2017 Alabama Small Business Person of the Year. While the national recognition went to him, Jodie places the success of the business on his staff.
“We invest in people and buy things,” he said of Local Joe’s, heaping praise on his culinary-trained chefs and catering set-up crews.
The Retailer of the Year judges were impressed with how Local Joe’s markets itself. “Their Facebook “check-in” and get a free cookie is a smart way to appeal to the millennials and moms who shop there,” one judge said. The judges also praised Local Joe’s for its delivery program for companies with employees who are not able to leave the job site for meals.
Much of Local Joe’s business is catering, especially weddings. In a letter of recommendation, Jana and Danny McEachern of J&D farms in Southside, one of the top 25 barn venues for weddings in the country, wrote, “There is absolutely no other caterer that has been more highly recommended by our brides than Local Joe’s. They exemplify Southern hospitality, which is what a Southern wedding is all about.”
Local Joe’s, an Alabama Retail Association member since March of this year, was one of 14 retail businesses honored today as Retailers of the Year. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 90 nominees.The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities.
“Jodie and Karen Stanfield are retailers of the year EVERY year to the Local Joe’s customers, their 40 employees and the Rainbow City and Alexandria communities,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,200 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.