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A chat with Anna Catt at Tinker Coffee

There’s six in my family. And that’s small—most of my relatives have eight to twelve kids. But yes, so I always loved being in the kitchen, and really, hospitality stemmed from food for me. It’s just something that was natural for my family. I loved to be in the kitchen with my mother, and my dad is actually one of seventeen kids. Seventeen kids. Yeah. Seventeen. Since we have such a huge family, entertaining was just part of growing up.

I like to host—I always have. It’s just kind of in my nature. I don’t think every part of the hospitality industry is the right fit for me, but I really like what OFS is doing. You know, it’s connection on a personal level, and that’s always been the draw for me.

Huntingburg is a small town, and my family knew the owner of a coffee shop in town for years. I knew she needed help, and she offered me a job for when I was back from college. Eventually, I became the manager of the café. I never finished my degree because she decided to sell the café—she said, “It’s going to happen now, or it’s not going to happen.” So, at 22, I went for it and bought the shop.

When we redid the coffee shop as Milk Parlor, the whole idea was to make it ours. We wanted somewhere peaceful that people could come and somewhere everyone would feel welcome. We changed the look, got different equipment, and sourced more locally. As a result, we had students in there, we had kids, we had the Red Hat Society ladies coming in once a month for lunches. It was one of the only places like that in town.

I’m currently working on a social hub for the corporate campus called Roots Café. That’s why we’re here at Tinker, for coffee training. The café is really going to be a gathering place for employees first and foremost, but it’s also going to be an important place to host guests that come through and will be a really key part of that whole experience. We’ll offer food and drinks but also just a comfortable place to relax for a little bit—it’s really a hub for anybody.

We want people to feel as comfortable there as they would when they walk in their front door. We’re really excited to make it a personal experience for anyone who comes through, and this is a good opportunity to do that.
- Anna Catt, Hospitality Manager at OFS

It’s very deli-like—soup, salads, sandwiches, wraps—but we’re also going to have breakfast items, which I’m really excited about. I want to do a seasonal quiche or frittata every morning. We’ll have some pastries, too—we’ve been experimenting with traditional recipes. I think it’s important to keep our menu evolving because we want people to be attracted to it week after week. Roots Café is going to be WELL certified, which is pretty comprehensive: lighting, air quality, food, and beverage. We’re going to try for a lot of local suppliers; we may even be using some of the cheese from my uncle’s farm. I’m really only involved with the food and beverage end of it, which has a lot to do with eating whole, real foods, staying away from sugar, processed foods, and so on. It’s pretty stringent, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be a problem for us. We have a lot of really good food planned. Everything’s going to be delicious.

For me, the idea of hospitality is to make people feel comfortable and at ease with where they are.
- Anna Catt, Hospitality Manager at OFS

I feel kind of like a mom right now—they have even called me the “Blue House Mom.” [laughs]. Having grown up here, I know a lot of faces at OFS, and it’s cool to be able to take care of people, to share in this community in new ways.