Kroger & Southern Heritage Classic Customer Appreciation Day attracted helping hands and the expertise of Chef Chris Beavers (right). (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

by Latrivia Welch —

Southern Heritage Classic Founder Fred Jones Jr. (right) and SHC Ambassadors. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

On any given day, you go to the grocery store to shop for food, not necessarily to be served free picnic nosh specially prepared by a celebrity chef.

However, that is exactly what happened this past Saturday at Kroger’s Frayser Boulevard location during the Kroger & Southern Heritage Classic Customer Appreciation Day.

“I didn’t even know about this before I got here, but I’m glad I decided to come when I did,” laughed frequent Kroger shopper, Mae Johnson. “The food was really delicious. I thank them for doing this. It was nice.”

The same sentiment was shared by most who attended the event. Over 300 patrons, ranging in all ages and ethnicities, were served fresh ears of grilled corn prepared in a special sauce, juicy beef franks on warm buns, chips, fruit and an array of beverages prepared by Chef Chris Beavers as a part of the customer appreciation day that lasted from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During the Kroger & Southern Heritage Classic Customer Appreciation Day, helping hands were busy. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

According to representatives from both Kroger and Southern Heritage Classic, this annual customer appreciation day has taken place for the last three years.

“This has been our most successful customer appreciation day event with Kroger yet,” said Fred Jones, creator of the Southern Heritage Classic. “It’s a kickoff to all we have in store for this year’s Classic, and we hope to see everyone come out and enjoy the festivities.”

A processional of Southern Heritage Classic Ambassadors stood in their souvenir shirts passing out pamphlets that highlighted the 30th Southern Heritage Classic schedule of events and greeting Kroger customers. Other volunteers helped with the music and gifts.

“I’ve been an ambassador for the Southern Heritage Classic for a little over 18 years,” said Mel Walthall. “I love the organization and what it brings to Memphis. So I was happy to come out to represent today along with my friends.”

Fred Jones Jr. and Teresa Dickerson had plenty to smile about during Appreciation Day. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Along the walkway, families lined up eating, laughing and dancing while a team from local radio station V101.1 entertained the masses as a part of the remote show led by host Stormy Bailey. Teresa Dickerson, Kroger corporate affairs manager for the Delta Division, Beavers and other Kroger employees stood at the helm of the three-table buffet line waving over patrons and passing out plates. And Jones took selfies with participants and greeted folks who wanted to know more about the Classic’s events this year.

“Any time that we have an opportunity to show the customers how much we do appreciate their business and support, we try to do so,” said Dickerson. “And nothing brings people together like food, music and giveaways.”