Next week will mark the end of a Piedmont era: Frank Dufay, Mulberry’s longtime manager, cheesemonger, charcuterie wizard, and gourmet grocery aficionado will mark his last day as the ultimate Hometown Hero on July 22. A key member of the Mulberry’s team since January 2008, Frank has made enough sandwiches to feed everyone in Piedmont 10 times over and has lovingly crafted cheese and charcuterie platters for key events in the town for the past 15 years.
The Exedra caught up with Mulberry’s owners Chad Olcott and Laura Pochop to learn about Frank’s contributions to Mulberry’s.
Exedra: What was Frank’s role when he first came to Mulberry’s?
Chad: We had just opened the store in December and honestly it still felt like we were throwing a wedding every single day. We were exhausted. One of the trickiest challenges early on was produce. It’s complicated to order, the prices change daily, it takes up a ton of space in the walk-in, we couldn’t get order quantities right — it was a big mess. We were having to compost tons of food but at the same time we were often out of key items. Frank came in and took a really methodical approach and tamed the beast.
Exedra: Is Frank the longest-tenured employee at Mulberry’s?
Laura: Pretty close. Only one person — Antonio Cisneros — has been with us since opening day, which was December 8, 2007. Frank started in January of 2008. He’s the second-longest tenured member of our team by a long shot.
Exedra: How has Mulberry’s changed since Frank came on board in 2008?
Chad: It has changed so much, and Frank was a huge part of that evolution. We tried a bunch of things that didn’t work out. For example, we really wanted to have a bbq program for the evenings, so people could come in and pick up freshly grilled meats and fish. We’ve never been able to make that work, though. On the other hand, Frank has really expanded our catering business. He trained himself to make the most gorgeous cheese, vegetable and charcuterie platters. They’re really works of art. And that wasn’t really a part of our business plan initially. There’s so much more that has changed, and Frank has been at the center of every single innovation.
Exedra: What do you admire most about Frank?
Laura: He has always had a laser-like focus on the customer, on making sure we listened to people and responded to requests even if it’s just one or two people asking for something. He doesn’t live in Piedmont, but so many Piedmonters really know and rely on him. He sings with the Piedmont Community Church and I’ve run into him at parties at customers’ houses. He’s never been just punching a clock. He really cares about the store and our customers and feels a responsibility to come through for them.
Chad: He’s such a wonderful human being, with such heart for everyone he meets. He really took care of us like family. That’s how he’s wired.
Exedra: What’s next for Frank? Where is he going?
Chad: I’m a little jealous — he’s really setting off on an adventure. He’s headed to Vancouver, Washington and he’s keeping his options open in terms of work up there. He knows where he’ll be living and has family nearby, but plans to take some time off and really think about his next move professionally. Wherever he ends up working has an amazing surprise in store. They have no idea that they’re about to welcome a super star onto their team!