The Creme is known for its unique spin on coffee, lunch items and desserts, but there’s a person behind the counter who works nonstop to make all that magic happen — and her name is Ashley Vanover.
Vanover serves as the Creme’s general manager and, according to owner Adam Patterson, she runs the place.
“Ashley is like the city’s cool aunt,” Patterson said, bragging on his manager’s hard work ethic, efforts to get to know everyone and superb cooking skills.
“I cook the food I’d like to cook at home,” Vanover said. “Our white chicken chili is my favorite food item we serve here.”
Patterson and Vanover said the Creme’s profits have increased three-fold since Patterson stepped in as owner over a year ago. The key to their success is split between a loyal band of customers and a new direction taken with both food items and the restaurant’s design.
“It’s our customers — they’re the most loyal customers ever,” Vanover said of the Creme’s success. “Our loyalty program says restaurants in bigger cities, like Nashville, don’t match our customers’ loyalty.”
Patterson said the coffee house’s layout and its focus on food quality have a lot to do with what brings customers in and what keeps them coming back.
“Persistency and consistency are two of our focuses,” Patterson said, adding that the establishment is set up to purposefully feel like a lot of mini living rooms, where everyone is forced to face each other and converse at each table — something Patterson thinks people don’t realize they miss until they have the opportunity to do it at the Creme.
It doesn’t hurt that the Creme’s employees love what they do.
“The money stays local. We’ve tripled our sales in a year — everyone’s gotten a raise. Ashley’s had five raises in the last year,” Patterson said. “Our goal is to keep the team happy and that keeps the customers happy.”
Vanover agrees with Patterson that the Creme has been blessed with a great staff, many of whom come back to help with big events.
“People have offered to work for free,” Vanover said, adding that former employees and college students have already offered to add extra hands for this year’s Christmas parade just so they can be a part of the company.
One of Vanover’s newest skills is her implementation of latte art, which is the art of making designs in the steamed milk of a latte.
“I watched a lot of YouTube videos,” Vanover said of her newfound skill. With the help of one of her baristas — Jeremy Schultz, who worked at the Sheraton Grand for three years — Ashley has honed her latte art skills, and the two have turned the Creme into an even more unique spot for grabbing coffee.
Aside from latte art, the Creme takes pride in fresh-made sandwiches, desserts and soups. What used to come in bags, frozen, before Patterson’s takeover, now comes fresh and homemade. The Creme even roasts their own meat, Patterson said.
Vanover said she and two others work diligently to come up with recipes for each season. Pumpkin spice reigns during the fall, of course, but creative treats such as the apple pie cupcakes for Veteran’s Day were served with a meaningful message behind them.
“What’s more American than apple pie?” Vanover asked, adding that the company also serves an apple pie latte during the fall months.
The Creme was voted the number one coffee shop in both Tennessee and Kentucky recently, and that is something Vanover and Patterson are especially proud of.
“My staff here is incredible,” Vanover said.