Puffy Muffin founder Lynda Stone embraces family-focused culture.
“It’s very important that my employees have a good quality of life,” says Puffy Muffin owner and founder Lynda Stone.
That quote speaks volumes for the respect and loyalty Stone has for her 150 employees. But first, some insight into how she came to embrace this family-centered culture.
A Washington, D.C. native, Stone was born into a musically-focused family. That influence inspired her to move to Nashville where she majored in voice at Lipscomb University, and met her husband, Jack. “I came here for family and never left,” she says.
For Lynda, Jack and their two daughters, Ali and Kristi, preparing meals together was an integral part of their family life. Stone “learned how to cook from her mother, grandmother and aunts,” who instilled in her the importance of food, and food preparation, when it comes to caring for and nurturing families.
“I can remember when our daughters were little and they would stand on their stools by the stove, helping me fix our family meals,” says Stone. “Family is so important and food plays such a great part in that family dynamic. Food signifies hospitality and provides comfort. The sights and taste that are familiar to us bring comfort and establish memories that we so cherish.” Stone’s advice is to continue with the familiar, and “whether you are a mother, aunt or grandmother, listen to your family as to what they like and prepare that.”
Taking this to heart, Stone decided to begin her career in the food business in 1986, baking sourdough rolls for area bakeries out of her kitchen in Franklin. She did this for several years then decided to expand, renting the bakery space at Huffs Food Town on Wilson Pike Circle. In 1990 she moved into the Hills Shopping Center on Franklin Road, eventually expanding to its current location that afforded almost triple the display, seating and operational space.
And the rest is history. Now in its 30th year, Puffy Muffin continues to be a favorite dining experience. A second location opened three years ago in Cool Springs. And it’s no wonder Stone’s two restaurants have been so successful. “We invite guests in to the Puffy Muffin and then we connect with them,” she says. “Our distinction is we have captured three generations of people. You cannot imagine how rewarding it is to see the parents, their children and then their grandchildren come back.”
She credits “a very unique culture” for making these connections possible. The restaurants’ hours are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The restaurants are closed on Sunday and all holidays. The family-friendly culture extends to her employees as well. Over the years, Stone has taken employees on retreats to the Caribbean, Alaska, Blackberry Farms and Tennessee points of interest. “I have been delighted at how supportive our guests are when we’re going to be gone for a few days or a week,” says Stone. “Guests care for the Puffy Muffin and the people who work there,” she says. The restaurant’s longest tenured employee recently retired after 25 years of service, and several others have worked there 20 years or longer.
Stone works every day, dividing her time between the two “stores,” as she refers to them. “There are things about every job that can be difficult, but work is good for us.
“Jack and I are eight years into our 10-year exit strategy. Within the next year or two, we plan to retire and our daughters will take over the Puffy Muffin. They are both are very intelligent, talented women – so the Puffy Muffin has a bright future.”
As do the guests and the people who work there.