Family Food Store in Sawyer celebrates fall with special soups, sweet rolls and much more
Nine years ago in October, Greg Wolf and family embarked on an adventure in creating food experiences in southern Pratt County. They never dreamed it would take them into 2021 as a successful rural grocery, food and craft outlet in a town with less than 100 citizens. But the Family Food Store in Sawyer celebrates this season with the usual favorites, plus a few new ones, for loyal and new customers who come from near and far to enjoy food like grandma used to make.
"I would say we never imagined that we would be making and selling the equivalent of 63-dozen sweetdough pans and 18-dozen large individual rolls on a daily basis," Wolf said Saturday. "That's really a standard amount and it will double as we get near the holiday season."
On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (open days at the Family Food Store), large, soft, cinnamon rolls in flavors such as cherry, peach or apple cinnamon are customer favorites. Wolf, his wife Ruby, older children Chloe and Elliott, and several local employees prepare, sell and serve a host of homemade items. Wolf said he has noticed a pick-up in cream pie sales this fall - with more peanut butter, chocolate peanut-butter and coconut cream pies passing the check-out counter.
Homemade breads, traditional pies in flavors like apple, cherry and peach, as well as pizza pies and frozen supper casseroles plus signature sandwiches on homemade hoogies are available year-round, but often see a pick-up in fall.
"From October through March we also serve special soups made from scratch, one flavor a day," Wolf said. "My wife and daughters set the schedule, but it changes from week to week on the flavor of the day. They have come up with soups from family recipes handed down through the generations, and then added their own twist to make them very, very good."
Soups that customers seem to go wild for, buying them by the bowl or in quart jars to take home, include flavors such as chicken-bacon corn chowder, cheeseburger, creamy chicken and noodle, garden cheddar broccoli and creamy chicken and wild rice.
"Out of necessity we had to start making extra and selling it by weight in jars because people would come in and try the flavor of the day and just say, 'Oh I want to take some of that home to my family,'" Wolf said.
Making extra soup is one of the few customer demands that Wolf has been willing to concede through the years, he said. As the chief number cruncher and with a strong background in business, he said keeping their energy focused on what works was a much better strategy for success than trying to guess and meet every customer's whim or worry.
"We have to keep almost a laser focus on what our priorities are to make it all work," he said. "We are about as busy as we can stand right now."
With that in mind, Wolf said the main priority for the Family Food Store has always been to create an experience that leaves customers wanting more.
"For us it has been about doing it right, doing it with wholesome ingredients and serving up food like grandma might have years ago. That's what people come here for and that's what keeps them coming back," he said.
The Family Food Store used to celebrate the beginning of fall and their anniversary month of October with the addition of biscuits and gravy to the menu on days open each week, but that has become a year-round favorite.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic we started selling those on a regular basis year-round and just kept it going," Wolf said. "We have biscuits and gravy every morning open, but you have to come early because we almost always run out."
Gift items related to food and home-style cooking, as well as unique interior and exterior decor items are also available year-round at the store.
A honey stand features local spun honey from Medicine Lodge and organic honey from Cheney, along with honey sticks, honey bears, bee-themed fun items and cookbook. Nearby, a hot cocoa display and specialty coffee choices beckon the eye. Aprons, pillows, old-fashioned clocks and standard cook-ware items are augmented by country art and Christian-themed wall-hangings that help create that comforting experience that Wolf and family love to share.
"I'm the bulk-orderer and early morning dough-mixer, so I really rely a lot on my wife and daughter to create the welcoming displays," he said. "They do a good job, and bring in something fresh each season."
New this fall are fresh-picked flower arrangements, straight from the Wolf family gardens nearby. They add to the eye-full experience of just walking through the unobtrusive front door of Sawyer's Family Food Store.
The Family Food Store is not hard to find as there is only a two-block stretch of Main Street in Sawyer. The store at 201 S. Main Street is right across from the U.S. Post Office and directly under a bright blue water tower, right along U.S. Highway S. 281, which runs directly through town.