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The Chaffee’s Got Heart Committee is highlighting local businesses and individuals that have gone above and beyond by doing extraordinary things during the uncertain times of COVID-19. The Committee asked community members to submit the names of local businesses and individuals who encompassed the Chaffee’s Got Heart ideals. The first business highlighted by the community was Little Red Hen Bakery in Salida.

Image courtesy of Chaffee’s Got Heart Committee.

Owner Emily Walker sat down with the committee to discuss how COVID-19 changed things just a year after she and her husband Andrew took over.

When asked how COVID-19 caused them to innovate, Walker explained “The biggest change we made was putting our line outside. We never would have considered this if not for COVID-19, but we tried to pick something early on that would go above and beyond no matter what rules came into effect so we could get back into a rhythm that would allow us to focus on outstanding customer service and creating a delicious product. Plus, we gave people a place they could socialize safely from a distance.

Walker explained why they made the decision to go above and beyond in order to keep the community safe “I take my commitment to employing members of our community very seriously. Our employees and customers depend on us to be here for them so I wanted to make sure we could stay open.”

Know of an outstanding business or individual working to keep the community safe? Make your nomination by Jan. 15.

She continued, “to do that, we needed to design a system that would provide peace of mind – for the 20 people on my team and for the customers – no matter what might happen. And it paid off. When we had an employee COVID-19 scare back in October, it was really comforting to know that our customers had nothing to worry about because of the distance we placed between us and them.”

“Out of an abundance of caution we closed for a few days until we all were tested. As a small business, it was terrifying, but we knew it was the right thing to do and the feedback we got from the community was a hundred percent positive. It made people trust us even more and they came back in full force when we reopened.”

Walker explained where they had seen examples of the idea that “Chaffee’s Got Heart”.

She said, “From the very beginning of the pandemic, what blew us away was that our customers weren’t just coming to us for food, they were coming to us for comfort and that was super powerful. They sent such a strong message: you need to stay open because we need you, we rely on you and at the same time, they made it clear that they were going to be here for us, a definite sign of our community’s heart.”

She continued “We used to be so much friendlier and welcoming than we are now [during COVID-19], giving samples, having kids play inside, chatting with customers – and it’s been scary to let go of that to be safe. We weren’t sure how people would react, but they’ve been amazing. We can’t wait until we can welcome people back into the store, but we know that the Little Red Hen will be OK until it’s safe.

Little Red Hen Bakery has taken precautions to ensure safety for customers and employees during these times of OCVID-19. Photo by Brooke Gilmore.

Walker explained her biggest takeaway from 2020 is “I learned what we mean to this community. This was a scary year for a new business owner like me but feeling this support made me realize I want to do this for the rest of my life – run this bakery, here in Salida. We matter here, which is a lot of responsibility, but it’s also gotten me through the tough bits of 2020 and it made our team so much stronger.”

Little Red Hen Bakery (LRH) offers free delivery after 4:00 p.m. in Salida. To schedule it, call 719-539-2401.

If you have taken the Chaffee’s Got Heart Pledge and received a free Discovery Pass, LRH offers unlimited coffee.

It accepts donations for the Salida Grainery through their community account. Stop by to donate. Click here for the latest menu and hours.