Topher Vorhies

Topher Vorhies, store manager/partner, is marking his 20th year with Leon’s, where its 86th store anniversary celebration will be highlighted by Samplefest on Saturday, April 6.

Why shop at Leon’s Gourmet Grocer? Here are three great reasons:

- A great meat counter that’s a cut above the rest;

- Unparalleled customer service; and

- A variety of gourmet foods that’s in a class by itself.

Those are among the many reasons why Leon’s – Lincoln’s oldest and most-established supermarket – has grown and prospered in the highly competitive grocery industry.

Every retail store will probably tell you it provides good customer service, but at Leon’s Gourmet Grocer, customer service is more than just lip service: It’s a way of life.

Case in point: Just before Christmas last year, a Leon’s customer placed a meat order for a family holiday celebration planned in Ogallala, Nebraska. Another family member was asked to pick up the order.

Unaware that the order involved two, separate cuts of meat, the person assigned the pick-up task picked up one meat order, but overlooked the other, and headed to Ogallala, where the oversight was discovered. Knowing that the holiday feast wouldn’t be the same without the complete order from the meat maestros at Leon’s, the party host called the Lincoln store and explained her dilemma.

Roy Toy, a retired store partner now residing in Colorado, just so happened to have come back to Leon’s to help with the Christmas rush. He picked up the overlooked order from the Lincoln locker and, re-routing his trip home, made the delivery in Ogallala en route to his new home in Colorado.

A 270-mile drive to satisfy a customer isn’t an everyday occurrence at Leon’s, but it exemplifies the dedication that the store takes in putting the customer first. It’s been Leon’s way of doing business since store founder Leon Adelson first opened Leon’s Stop and Shop in 1933.

Eighty-six years after Adelson opened what was primarily a butcher shop at 13th and South streets, Leon’s continues to pride itself on a solid foundation anchored by great customer service, high-quality meat and an impressive assortment of gourmet foods.

Putting you first

Doing the little things adds up to a big difference at Leon’s, where carry-out service is still a way of saying thanks. “We’re also the only Lincoln supermarket that takes phone orders (if placed by 11 a.m.) for same-day delivery,” says store partner/manager Topher Vorhies, a 20-year employee who joined the Leon’s team at age 16.

Leon’s business model involves staying abreast with current trends while adhering to customer-service practices. It’s a combination that has allowed it to become Lincoln’s oldest, most-established supermarket. That includes introducing health-conscious items such as natural, all-organic foods and new, healthy twists on time-honored standards.

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Vorhies recently attended the Innovation Showcase in Kansas City, where grocers were introduced to market trends such as high-protein snacks for busy adults on the go.

Samplefest April 6

Some of those healthy alternatives will be displayed Saturday, when Leon’s kicks off its 86th anniversary celebration with Samplefest. The 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. food festival will feature try-‘em-before-you-buy-‘em delicacies like Capo Di Tutto homemade three-cheese or smoked-salmon gnocchi and Gold Dust kettle corn - all made in Lincoln - as well as Jonny Pops and Sticky Finger scones.

The activities April 6 also include a Sizzling Saturday Grill-out from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The anniversary celebration includes (separate) sign-ups to win a year’s supply of Hiland Dairy milk, Blue Bunny ice cream, two-liter Coke and Pepsi products, Frito-Lay potato chips, and Best Choice bread.

Coming next week (April 9-15): register daily to win $86 in groceries, awarded each day.

Since 1952, Leon’s has been located in the heart of Lincoln at 2200 Winthrop Road. More details are at www.leonsgourmetgrocer.com

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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