When Alison Gurley drove past the Glenvilah Shopping Center and saw a ‘for lease’ sign in one of the store windows, she called almost immediately.
A few months later, she and her husband opened Travilah Oak, on June 2. “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” Gurley said.
Operating the store is a family affair for the Gurleys. Alison Gurley prepares the food, drawing upon the food service knowledge she gained while working at Fresh Fields in a supervisory position. “I ran that department as if it was my own,” Gurley said.
While she uses that experience as a basis for operating the store, she adds her personal touch. “I use some old, family recipes, some newer things,” she said.
Currently the store offers lunch specials and dinner entrees in addition to catering.
After having been in the supervisory end of the business for several years, Gurley is happy to return to the more hands-on aspects of the job. “I didn’t realize how much I missed it,” she said.
Her husband, Charles, runs the business end, while her brother does the baking, and her sister and mother pitch in as well.
Gurley anticipates that she’ll need to bring in outside help soon, when the business expands to make breakfast available, something they’re hoping to do by Oct. 1. “We’re definitely going to have to,” Gurley said.
She also plans to offer a delivery service in the future, and starting in September, weekly wine tastings. “These are our stepping stones to get us where we want to be,” Gurley said.
In a shopping center known for its fast turnover, Gurley thinks her store is there to stay. “We are different,” she said. “I’m bringing up the standard, it’s more upscale.”
Toward that end, Gurley is stocking the store with a variety of beers and plans to carry approximately 280 varieties of wine, in addition to its food choices.
“I want people to shop my store,” she said.
She hopes to minimize the amount of display area she will allow her vendors to place. “I’m not letting it get cluttered,” Gurley said.
While still a work in progress, the Gurleys are striving to improve the appearance of the store, as well. They’ve added blonde, hardwood floors and a fresh coat of maroon paint. “We had to do a lot of cleaning,” Gurley said.
So far the clientele seem to like the direction the store is taking. “It’s really what it should have been all along,” said Guy Semmes, who has been visiting the new store. “You can go in there and get some really first class stuff.” Semmes is an owner of Hopkins and Porter Construction.
Carmen Wade, who has also visits the store for lunch, has made use of their catering service. “My guests ranted and raved about how good their wraps were,” Wade said.
Wade also finds the proprietors friendly and skilled at customer service.
“I think they’ve got a hit on their hands,” Wade said.