Darlene Merckle To Retire After Fifty Year Banking Career

When Darlene Merckle came to work for the Bremen Bank, she was a student at Fairfield Union High School who landed a part time job at the bank. On June 15, she will celebrate her well-earned retirement after a fifty year career with the bank.

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The kindness and professionalism of Darlene Merckle will be missed after her retirement from the bank this week.

Darlene’s name isn’t one that most customers know. However, scores of loan customers over the years have benefited from her expertise, hard work and dedicated approach to her job. That’s because she is an Indirect Loan Processor. That means she’s part of a select team of employees who are responsible for processing the loans that customers receive after applying at the dealership where they buy their automobile, RV, boat, motorcycle or other type of vehicle. While the loan documents can be signed at the dealership, there remains much work on the back end to insure that the loan is processed properly and the dealership paid.

But Darlene hasn’t always worked behind the scenes making dreams come true for customers.

She actually started at the bank at a time when employees had to be trained to do a lot of different jobs. “Back then, you did everything. Teller work, bookkeeping, you name it. We had to be able to do it all,” she said.

In those days, bookkeeping was a manual affair where posted checks were checked against hand written ledgers. She recalls the bank using lots of large machines such as a proof machine which was used to process checks at banks prior to the advent of computers.

Since then, she has moved around some within the bank and has seen more changes in the banking industry than she can count.

At the Bremen Bank on Main Street in Bremen, she recalls several remodeling projects, town floods, the addition of new branches and the many shifting responsibilities of staff. She even recalls a time when a stray cat had a litter of kittens in the crawl space underneath the bank. “Lots of good memories,” she said with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye.

While Darlene started as a teller, she also worked in new accounts for a period before finding her niche in loan processing. At that time, a customer’s loan documents were kept all together in large paper files. As the bank grew, it became necessary to begin breaking out files by loan type and to change the filing system. Later, computers made it easy to scan and file documents, altogether eliminating the need for paper records.

She also recalls the many regulation changes that impact how a customer applies for a loan and the kind of information needed from the customer. “There was a time when there were no disclosures given, no application. There was just a note you signed promising to pay it back,” she said. “And I remember when we first started having customers fill out an application. It was a hard thing for some of our customers because they had never had to apply.”

Today, buyers can apply for a VCNB loan from the dealership. It’s a quick process that provides the customer with a convenient way to borrow money from VCNB when and where they need it and without making a trip to the bank.

Once the borrower is approved and they sign the documents at the dealership, Indirect Loan Processors like Darlene take over. They build the loan into the bank’s system and pay the dealership from their office in Lancaster.  “I like doing the behind the scenes work and I’ve always been fascinated by numbers,” she said. “It’s been a good fit.”

With just a few days left on the job, Darlene says she is looking forward to retirement. “It’s time to retire. Sometimes you just know. There’s not a reason I want to go now but I don’t want to wait too long either. I don’t want to wait until it isn’t fun anymore,” she explained. “Fifty years is enough time.”

The Fairfield County native looks forward to spending time with family including her two grown children and her five grandchildren as well as Mark, her husband of 45 years. “I’ll miss the people. Yes, I will miss my coworkers. A lot of them are like family,” she said wistfully.

And Darlene’s coworkers will miss her too.

Vice President of Indirect Lending Trisha Kyer is visibly saddened when speaking of Darlene’s upcoming retirement. The two have worked together for 25 years, forming a bond that extends beyond work. “She’s a good person and once you’re friends with her, she’s there for you for life,” Trisha said. “I think she knows everyone in the bank and they all lover her. I know this is best for Darlene but we’ll miss her.”

The bank will celebrate Darlene’s fifty year career with a reception at our West Fair branch in Lancaster on Friday, June 15 from noon to 3 p.m. The public is invited to stop by for cake and to wish Darlene well as she starts a new chapter in her life’s book.

“Who would’ve thought that little seventeen year old girl would still be here all these years later?” Darlene asked. “It’s hard to believe!”

Debbie Harmon To Retire Friday

Debbie HarmonDebbie Harmon’s career has been a long and winding road since she started out as a Performance Dance major in college. Debbie will soon retire from the VCNB Family after a successful banking career and, while it isn’t the line of work she studied for, Debbie says her career working with customers has been rewarding.

She appreciates the community aspect of working for a community bank. “I like that the community is important to us and that people matter,” she said, pointing out that the branches are encouraged to support their communities and individuals are rewarded for their volunteerism.

“Community banking was a good move for me,” she said of her decision to take a position at VCNB about nine years ago. Prior to working for VCNB, Debbie was employed by a big bank and before that by Ohio State University as Coordinator of Student Loan Services.

Many of Debbie’s customers will remember her as Head Teller and later Branch Service Manager at Canal Banking Center. She moved to the Pataskala branch about a year and a half ago to help out as Branch Service Manager during an interim period.  “I liked my job before but had the opportunity to do more, to make the last year more interesting and to do more than I’ve always known,” she explained.

Helping people is a passion that has made Debbie a good community banker. “I like helping people, especially when I can take a customer’s problem or question and guide them to a solution from beginning to end. I don’t like to pass a customer off to another department or another person but enjoy working through the issue for them,” she explained.

Her eyes light up when she talks about the free time she will soon have. “I’m looking forward to having more time to take care of myself better. It may sound fuddy-duddy but I’m looking forward to being at home too. I love going and doing things, especially visiting places I’ve never been. It’s a big world and there are a lot of things to see and do but I like home too,” she said with laugh. “I’m not at all worried about how I’ll fill my time.”

Debbie reads a lot and enjoys writing as well. She and husband Guy have been married for 40 years and they have two children. She looks forward to having more free time with her family as well as time to work in her flower garden.

“It’s been easy coming to work here. Good friendships, good relationships, good customers – that’s truly been a blessing. But it’s time. It’s time to retire. Nothing has changed. I still like my job and still want to do a good job. You don’t always know why but you know it’s time to start a new chapter and now is the time for me,” she said.

Debbie will officially retire on May 31. A reception will be held on May 31 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pataskala branch of the Friendly Bremen Banking Center to honor both Debbie and Crystal Gregor who will retire the same day.

Crystal Gregor To Retire Friday

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When VCNB opened its Pataskala branch in 2006, Crystal Gregor was there to help move into the office and to greet new customers. She had just made the move from a big bank to VCNB, training at our Lancaster West Fair branch before helping open the newly constructed office in Pataskala. That means May 31 will mark the end of an era for our Pataskala customers and for Crystal as she will retire after a 32 year career in central Ohio banking.

While she is excited to retire, the longtime Head Teller at the Friendly Bremen Bank of Pataskala still gets a little teary eyed when she speaks of leaving her customers and coworkers.   “I am looking forward to retirement but will miss the people so much. My coworkers are a little like family and I just love everyone I work with,” she said. “

She also feels a fond attachment to many of her regular customers, smiling as she mentioned a few who she will particularly miss. “I’m here for the customers. It’s my job to take care of the customer but it’s not just a job for me. I love taking care of people and I’m really going to miss this part of my life.”

While Crystal will miss her customers and work family, she looks forward to spending more time with the people in her personal life, especially her husband Glen who she calls “the best” and her 86 year old father who she calls “the most gentle, kind man.”

Crystal has three sons in Pickerington, Worthington and Texas. She intends to visit her Texas son later this year. She also has four grandkids who she is already making arrangements to have quality time with. And then there are her three best girlfriends with whom she’s making plans for some fun adventures this year.

“It’s been such a journey and I’m lucky to have learned so much along the way,” she said. One of those lessons, she said, is to not let others make you feel bad. “Never let anyone get you down when you know you’re a good person and doing the right thing,” she said. “You have to be true to yourself.”

Another important lesson relates to money and kindness. “Money only means so much. If you’re not doing a service of kindness for another human being, what are you doing? Why are you here?” she asked.

Her last piece of advice?

Enjoy every day. “You get one life. Enjoy every day,” she said. “Coming to work here was truly a blessing. I feel like I’m where God wants me to be. But I also feel like it’s time to do something different and I look forward to what that might be.”

If you’re in the area, help Crystal celebrate her happy day with a reception at the Pataskala branch of the Friendly Bremen Banking Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on May 31. The reception will also celebrate the career of Debbie Harmon who will retire on the same day.

Small Business Spotlight: Jack Pine Studio

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

multi color pumpkin group

Jack Pine’s signature piece is the pumpkin which he, and artists he trains, create in all shapes, colors and sizes.

When Jack Pine was a young man, he set out on a cross country road trip in search of adventure.  He landed in Seattle with $200 in his pocket and a pet ferret at his side – only to find that the real adventure had just begun.  Today, the renowned glass blower is honing his artistry in the Hocking Hills, bringing his life story full circle just a few miles from where it began.

Today, Jack Pine is known for his blown glass pumpkins and other delectable pieces of finely crafted art but his roots are quite humble. His studio sits off the St. Rt. 180, on a wooded lot close to Rock House, one of the Hocking Hills State Park’s most popular destinations. Here Jack and artists he trains create glass art that is sold and shipped nationwide. Visitors are welcome to stop by for a glass blowing demonstration or to shop in the retail store.

The artist is a self-described country boy whose roots run deep in Hocking County. He described growing up in Tarlton as one of the best things that could happen to him. “I wouldn’t trade my childhood in Tarlton for anything,” he said while describing small town life with his two pet ducks, a town full of people he knew and parents who brought art into his life.

Both parents were artists in their own right – his dad was a DuPont factory worker who engaged in artistic pursuits including inventing while his mother was a talented painter and sculptor.

The 1983 Logan Elm High School graduate describes himself as a quiet, creative kid who was sometimes a target for bullies. A scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design offered opportunity to follow his lifelong passion for art but he still lacked funds to pay for his full education. So he did a stint in the Army which he calls “life changing.”

“The Army equalizes everyone. It strips away your previous identify and makes you all the same. For me, that pulled me up,” he said. “I had always been quiet and reserved so it brought me out of my shell.”

He came home to college after being stationed in Germany for a couple of years. “I didn’t actually graduate. I ran out of money for school and I wanted an adventure.”

His destination was Seattle where the art scene was like mecca for glass thanks to artists like Dale Chihuly who co-founded the nearby Pilchuck Glass School.  So he pointed his Ford Escort west, car camping and visiting an aunt in Colorado along the way. The stories of this meandering journey past the Grand Canyon and up the west coast are captivating as are his stories of breaking into the glass scene.

He was actually homeless for a short time before taking a job in a grungy store that “sold gas, sandwiches and not much else.”  Here Jack became friendly with a customer who took an interest in the young and connected him with a glass blower who needed help. Jack fudged his way through an interview to become an apprentice at Mt. St. Helens Glassworks which used ash from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens to create hand blown pieces like kerosene lamps. “They quickly figured out that I had no idea what I was doing,” he laughed. “But they could see I was hungry to learn and agreed to teach me. I was super enthusiastic to learn.”

While he had no trained experience in glass blowing, he has long been fascinated with fire. In fact, he recalls childhood campfires where he enjoyed watching glass bottles thrown in the fire transform in the heat. “I’m a bit of a pyro,” he exclaimed.

Jack’s career has taken many twists and turns since those early days at Mt. St. Helens. Most notably, he landed at a studio in Boulder, Colorado where he began to fine tune and experiment with his craft. “I don’t mind making the same piece all day every day. That’s how you learn to finesse the materials and I love that. I love the constant state of learning,” he said.

It was here that a friend asked him to create a glass pumpkin, an innocent request turned life changing opportunity. “I made a pumpkin with a glass stem and realized I could sell them at the Pumpkin Show.”

pumpkin collectinHe arranged with his employer to use their workspace in his down time to create a trailer full of pumpkins he could haul home to the Pumpkin Show. “It was a gamble but I sold every last piece and knew I had something,” he said. He returned home to Colorado and began preparing for next year’s festival, beginning a tradition that has continued ever since.

For a period in the nineties, Jack took on a couple of different business partners, learning more about the business side of the art world. “I really don’t like that side of what I do,” he frowned while discussing problems he encountered as an artist partnering with investors.

He eventually came home to Ohio, setting up shop in a warehouse in the Short North Arts District of Columbus. He also began traveling the country, doing shows and developing a wholesale business that allows art lovers to find his work in stores like museum gift shops across the country.

While he was happy to be back in Ohio, Jack still longed to come home to the country. “I’m a country boy at heart,” he said. “I spent most of my childhood outdoors so I really don’t belong in the city.” When he located the property that is now his studio, he could see potential to do great things. “I’ve spent my life telling people about the beauty of the Hocking Hills. To be able to come home and create an attraction in an area that I love is a dream come true,” he said.

The studio, opened in December 2017, is about a mile and a half from Rock House and six miles from Laurelville. Most of their visitors seem to be tourists seeking adventure or maybe just some R&R while in the Hocking Hills. However, he invites locals to stop by as well. They do daily demonstrations for guests and a retail shop is available to purchase pieces as well.

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They also offer introductory workshops where students can learn the basics of glass blowing and make a piece with the aid of a master craftsman.  Plans are underway to make improvements to the property and for the creation of a school where budding artists can learn or improve their glass blowing skills.

Jack likes giving back to the community too. Last year they hosted a Summer Solstice Festival where proceeds benefits Sparrow House in South Perry. They plan to host the event again this year and to gift the proceeds to the Laurelville Fire Department. It will feature live music, food, kids’ activities and artists selling their work.

Visit Jack Pine Studio at 21397 Ohio 180, Laurelville or call 740.332.2223. Click here to visit them online  or on Facebook. Want to know more about the Summer Solstice Festival? They will post information on their Facebook page closer to event time!

Bank Where You See Our Logo

Do you know how to spot a VCNB branch?

We have seventeen locations in eight Ohio counties and they operate under a few different names – Friendly Bremen Banking Center, Canal Banking Center, Hocking Hills Banking Center,  Jackson County Banking Center, Pickaway County Banking Center, Ross County Banking Center and, of course – Vinton County National Bank.

Embracing a community name is our way of embracing our communities!  While they may operate with different names, all of these bank branches are a part of the VCNB Financial Family and all embrace the same values and priorities that have been developed since our first bank opened in McArthur in 1867.

But how do you recognize a VCNB branch? That’s easy. Just look for our logo!

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Regardless of which VCNB branch you went to when opening an account, you can bank anywhere you see our logo. Need help finding a VCNB office? Click here!

 

What We Mean When We Say Relationship Banking

VCNB Billboard - Relationships Across Generations - (Rt. 50 Kenjoh Outdoor)

If you’ve seen our advertising and billboards this spring, you know that we’ve been talking about “Relationship Banking.” You might be wondering what that actually means.

To us, relationship banking is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about building relationships with our customers, bonds that last through a lifetime and often through multiple generations.

Whenever someone retires from our bank, we inevitably have customers who mourn the loss of their banker. For so many of our customers, their VCNB banker isn’t just someone who opens their account or loans them money. That person has helped them through many stages of life. From their first checking account to saving for a car or getting a first mortgage – their VCNB banker has offered sound advice over the years and has been with them through many stages of life.

This is how we’ve been successful for 152 years. We love helping you and hope to have the opportunity to help your kids and your parents and your friends as well. We want you to trust us so much that you open your child’s first passbook savings with us and that you don’t hesitate to recommend us to a friend searching for a new bank.

Our customer list is filled with countless examples of families who have been with us for generations. Don’t you want a banker you can trust? VCNB is here for you and for your lifetime of needs.

 

VCNB Team To Compete In The Buck Fifty

When the Buck Fifty kicks off in Chillicothe Friday afternoon, a team from VCNB will be among a field of nearly a hundred teams hoping to conquer the challenging overnight relay race through Ross County. The course winds through several communities, along back roads and through the area’s state and national parks. While the region’s rolling hills and winding roads make a scenic backdrop for a run, the course is a grueling 150 miles of physical and mental challenges.

But this relay race isn’t just about winners and losers. It’s also about raising money for an important cause in Ross County. Buck Fifty proceeds benefit the Drug Free Clubs of America Program in Ross County.

VCNB Head of Consumer Lending and VCNB Team Captain Tom Oyer said that helping raise money for this important cause was part of the reason the bank wanted to participate. “It’s an important cause here in Ross County. All the money raised is used to combat the drug problems in the community, specifically young people in schools,” he said.

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Look for the VCNB team jerseys during the Buck Fifty Friday and Saturday!

The bank’s participation in this third annual event was actually the brainchild of VCNB President Mark Erslan and Personal Banker Dustin Nusbaum. An avid runner, Nusbaum logs ten to twenty miles every week and has supported the Buck Fifty since its inception three years ago.

The Buck Fifty funds this program which has attracted 65 percent of all Ross County high school students, using a drug free pledge, education and incentives to keep kids clean.

The race begins on Friday and ends Saturday, mainly with ten person teams and just a handful of elite five person teams. The bank’s team consists of ten people from Chillicothe and other areas where the bank has branches.

Each ten person team is divided into two vans, with one van on the road at all times while one person is running. While the terrain is challenging, the schedule is grueling. It calls for participants to run several miles at a time, at three different times during a 24 hour span.

By day, Bryan Radabaugh works as Vice President of Operations at the bank’s McArthur office. In his free time he’s been training and looking forward to some family time with his two grown children who have also joined the bank’s team. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m in the same van as my kids so we’ll get to have some family time,” he said while describing the competitive spirit of son Bret, age 23, and daughter Hannah, age 20.

While Nusbaum has experience running this course, it will be a first time experience for the rest of the team. “It should be interesting for all of us. It’ll certainly be a challenge. You know, running is physical but it’s a mental thing too. Your body is saying ‘I can’t. I don’t want to do this.’ But you have to stay focused and use your mind to keep going,” Radabaugh said.

The VCNB Buck Fifty team consists of:

Mark Erslan, Chillicothe
Bryan Radabaugh, McArthur
Tom Oyer, Chillicothe
Mike Thurston, Pataskala
Gracie Rarick, Pataskala
Keirstan Mirgon, Lancaster
Josh Palmer, Pataskala
Dustin Nusbaum, Chillicothe
Bret Radabaugh, McArthur
Hannah Radabaugh, McArthur

“We’re all just proud to represent the bank and hope to do a good job,” Oyer said. “More than anything, we’re happy that the money raised at the Buck Fifty will be used for such a good cause.”

Best wishes to all of these volunteers who make up our team. We are proud of the work you do for the bank and look forward to seeing you compete this weekend! Want to learn more about the Bucky Fifty and how the money raised will be used locally? Click here for details.

A Fond Farewell: Earl Later Retires

Talk to Earl Later about how he spends his time outside of work and you have to wonder how he even finds time to work at the Salt Creek Banking Center. That’s actually no longer a problem for the longtime banker since he retired from the bank last week.

Earl has worked at our Laurelville branch since before it was part of the VCNB Financial Family. He started at Salt Creek Bank in 1995, bringing with him years of experience as a lender at other banks in Logan. When he started at Salt Creek, part of his job was to organize loan records and modernize forms to overhaul tracking and record keeping systems. “I spent a lot of time just getting files straightened out and updating forms so that we could have a better system moving forward,” he explained.

Earl Later retires 2He cut back to two days a week fifteen years ago but says he is now ready to retire from the bank and direct his attention elsewhere. And there is no shortage of things to keep him occupied.

Earl’s life with his wife Brenda keeps him active and busy. For the past six years, the two have been rearing two young boys – the children of Brenda’s deceased niece. Now aged 12 and 13, the boys are involved in school activities including soccer and basketball. “That keeps us going, having the boys and all their school work and sports and things they’re involved in,” he said.

Brenda also operates a cottage bakery business out of their home. From wedding cakes to party cupcakes to cheesecakes for a local restaurant, she stays busy with baking and decorating. He helps out as her runner, picking up supplies and assisting with deliveries.

He’s also looking forward to organizing his wood shop so that he can use it for future projects. And that’s without mentioning his ten acre Rockbridge property where he mows about five acres of grass, does snow removal and other maintenance.

Earl also credits a lifetime of hard work as he described growing up on his father’s farm. The Rockbridge property that now is home to a popular antique and craft mall was once his father’s busy farm.  “You name it, we did it. I drove tractor, baled hay in the summer when it’s hot. I learned to work hard.  Now I like to mow because it clears the mind, it’s a different world out here,” he said.

Earl also has a son, Mark, who lives in Logan. The pair have an annual tradition – they attend a NASCAR race together and try to visit a different track each time. “We’ve been to a lot of different tracks and we look forward to it every year.”

“Of course, I’ll miss talking to the customers and I’ll miss my coworkers but it’s a changing world and it’s a good time to retire. Nothing stays the same. That’s the one constant,” he said. “I like to keep the blood flowing. A lot of people, when they retire, they just sit down. The key is to keep active,” he said. “To me, old age is about fifteen years older than I am.”

 

Small Business Spotlight: The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

Ask Tamie Wallake to talk about her business The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria and you might expect her to tell you about the delicious food they make with fresh ingredients. You might expect her to brag about how they’re able to prepare fresh subs, custom pizzas and salads in a matter of minutes. You might expect her to mention the relaxing atmosphere and the coffee shop that invites customers to stay.

If that’s what you expect from a conversation with Tamie, you would be wrong.

Instead, her eyes sparkle and her demeanor brightens as she discusses how she and her husband Bryan use this business to help people who need a second chance. The Olive Branch helps people who are recovering from tough breaks and poor life choices that may have resulted in addiction, homelessness or crime.

The story of how this business came to be and of its place in Canal Winchester is actually quite complex and one that is rooted in faith and service to community. Bryan is a real estate broker and Tamie is a former realtor. Together, the pair have a history of building and selling businesses that fill a need,  including a golf course, a fitness center, and a construction company. “We have a talent for building businesses but not an eye for growing them. So, after selling the golf course we were looking for a new project.  I felt like God wanted me to do a daycare,” she explained.

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That’s why they opened Heaven Sent Children’s Academy which employs 35 teachers to care for 200 children. Empty acreage next door to the daycare was beckoning to be filled but the pair weren’t certain what business they should pursue next.

When Bryan came home and announced he wanted to open a pizza shop, she said her reaction was not initially supportive. “What do we know about making pizzas? I thought he was crazy,” she laughed. “But then I started thinking about the good we could do and how we could help people who are struggling because they made bad choices at some point in their lives.”

Those people who are struggling often slip through the cracks, becoming a statistic or sometimes a story on the evening news. But through the daycare, through her sister who is a foster parent, and through the couple’s nonprofit organization called Breaking Chains, she saw firsthand the dire need that many members of the community suffered with every day.

She tells some of those stories – not of statistics – but of real people who couldn’t get ahead even when they tried and who needed a second chance to start their lives anew.

She speaks of a young man who was homeless and who had a felony conviction. A hard worker that no one would hire because of the conviction, he had nowhere to live and a newborn baby. So Tamie and Bryan stepped up to help the young family and learned why it is so easy for people like him to be forgotten. “He was really trying but couldn’t get a job, couldn’t get a place to live because of bad choices he made years before. It’s no wonder people struggle when they can’t get a second chance,” she said.

“I realized I could use this business to help people like him. So I agreed to make pizzas if we could use it to help others and to give back,” she said. Consequently, they donate monthly to two charities including Breaking Chains which assists people coming out of homelessness and drug addiction.

But Tamie and Bryan didn’t want to just make pizzas. They wanted to make excellent pizza with fresh ingredients, quick service and the best customer service in town. They first attended pizza school at Good Fellas in Staten Island, New York. Good Fellas is renowned in the pizza industry for making some of the world’s best pizzas. They teach their students to use the best ingredients to make their dough and sauce from scratch.

Customers can watch their dough pressed and the pizza made before their eyes. It’s slid into a brick oven and baked for 2.5 minutes before coming out piping hot and ready to enjoy.

Signature pizzas include a BBQ Chicken Pizza with sweet bbq sauce, mozzarella/ provolone mix and cheddar cheeses plus chicken, bacon and onion. Diners can also choose from a host of meats, vegetables and cheeses as well as eight sauces to make their own custom pizza. Plus they offer signature subs and salads as well. Vegan and gluten free customers will have no trouble finding delicious options on the menu. They even offer a cauliflower crust.

Many of their ingredients come from a community garden behind the restaurant. Daycare children from Heaven Sent help tend the garden, learning about the how food grows and the importance of worms. “These are city kids and they have a chance to learn about growing food. Plus, what we don’t use here is donated to Heaven Sent so nothing is wasted,” she said.

Open the door to the Olive Branch and you are immediately hit with the divine smell of baking pizzas and melted cheese. The next thing you’ll notice is how prompt, courteous and helpful the staff are at all times. “We focus on customer service. We want the customer to be number one and we want the product to be excellent. We’ve worked to give them a sense of ownership and we are always working on customer service skills. Honestly, we have the cream of the crop here, a great group of kids,” she said of their staff of twenty.

“We are careful not to have too many second chancers here at one time,” she said as she explained how the ownership employees feel in their work extends to helping newcomers learn the Olive Branch way.

In addition, the business offers a coffee shop which serves One Line Coffee, a Columbus business that roasts coffee fresh when it is ordered. They actually offer more flavors than national chain coffee shops and have a peaceful atmosphere for conversation, meetings and quiet reflection. Smoothies, hot chocolate, espresso and frapuccino are a few menu items. Plus there are muffins, homemade cinnamon rolls, breakfast pizza and burritos. Homemade donuts are available Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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Comfy chairs welcome customers to the coffee shop.

The business has a distinct area for the pizza restaurant, a quiet area complete with a fireplace for the coffee shop as well as party space for bridal showers, Bible studies and birthday parties. “We literally offer the best of both worlds. We have fast, courteous service but we also have good quality ingredients, good food and a pleasant dining experience,” she said.

With the business approaching its two year anniversary, Tamie and Bryan have one eye on semi-retirement. “We understand that we are good at building businesses but we’re not so good at taking them to the next level and growing them,” she admitted.

That’s why they have engaged their grown sons to take over the Olive Branch. Braden will take over the marketing and Jeff will manage the daily operations. “Jeff has the mindset and the ability to take us to the next level and to do things here, to do things with people that I could never do,” she explained. “I’m at peace with stepping away from the daily work and trusting it with him. And I just know it’s going to be a real blessing for him and for others.”

Tamie and Bryan will take a break to rest before deciding their next move. She looks forward to finding greater balance in her life and to enjoying some freedoms that are hard to achieve when running a business every day. But she remains passionate about the message on their shirts – “It’s not just about the dough. Pizza with a purpose.”

She clearly is devoted to helping people by filling needs in the community and through addressing specialized needs that impact individuals and families. “Being able to do this has been a true blessing for us. Being able to take a break and to come back having found some balance, I think we’ll love it more,” she said with a smile.

The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria is located at 5600 Gender Road in Canal Winchester. Dine in, carry out, request delivery or arrange curbside pickup. Order online, follow them on Facebook or call 614.524.6888.

 

 

 

 

Bonnie McDevitt To Retire This Week

Bonnie McDevitt retires 2019

Bonnie McDevitt

Ask Bonnie McDevitt to talk about herself and her upcoming retirement and her initial response is that there’s not really anything to talk about. Her next response is to start talking about the people in her work life and how much she will miss them.

A seasoned banker and customer service professional, Bonnie will retire on March 29 after working as a teller in our Pataskala branch for twelve years.

Before coming to work at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Pataskala, Bonnie worked as a teller for another bank for several years. Before that, she was Head Cashier at the JCPenney Outlet Store, working at the popular store for nearly twenty years.

Bonnie’s customers and coworkers will tell you that customer service is always her focus and priority. It is these people – her regular customers and her longtime coworkers – who Bonnie says she will miss the most. “I’ll miss a lot of customers, people I see regularly. But I’ll really miss my coworkers. Some of them I’ve worked with for a lot of years,” she said.

Retirement is something that has been on the horizon for some time. She cut back to part time hours three years ago, something that she says has helped with the adjustment. “I’ve gotten used to having free time so it’s not like I’ll just wake up someday and have nowhere to be.”

The Scio, Ohio native has been working since she was just sixteen years old. From babysitting to running a cash register to lots of other jobs in between, she says that growing up in the small Harrison County town was beneficial. “Never have I regretted growing up in a small town. It was a good place to grow up and I got a lot of good experience and values from being from a small town,” she recalled. “I’ve had a good life so far!”

While Bonnie looks forward to retiring, she is conscious of the need to stay busy and to have purpose in her life once she is no longer headed to the bank every day. She has two grown children and four grandchildren and her eyes shine with pride as she describes each of them. She particularly enjoys seeing her two youngest grandchildren participate in extracurricular activities including basketball and football.

Bonnie also has a group of girlfriends from her JCPenney days. They gather regularly to socialize and play Euchre. “We’ve been playing cards together for years and years. Some of those girls, I’ve known since they were young. Some of them for 34 years!”

“My daughter wants me to stay busy. She’s all the time on me to stay active and to have things to do so I think she’ll keep me busy” she said. “You have to have the right mindset. You have to have a positive mindset and to find ways to not become bored. It’s too easy for people to become depressed when they’re not active. I don’t want that, I want to stay active,” she said.

Bonnie is thrilled that spring has arrived as she sometimes walks in her Pataskala neighborhood. She also enjoys jigsaw puzzles and isn’t intimidated by the challenging ones. She intends to volunteer some and hopes to soon begin volunteering at Mt. Carmel Hospital. She’s already talking about finding a small part time job once the newness of retirement wears off.

“Life is a journey and I’m ready to enjoy the next chapter,” she exclaimed!

Bonnie’s last day will be Friday, March 29. Customers are invited to stop by that day to celebrate and enjoy cake and punch.