Interview by Abernathy Cochran Real Estate Group intern Grace Slayton
Meet Karen Ching! Karen is the owner of Lakeside Market and Liberty Candy Company in Flowery Branch.
“There was something missing in the area as far as whole foods, an European market, and fresh breads. We have baked goods, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies…homemade bread, Italian olives, charcuterie, and artisan cheeses. We have also added wine in the past year,” Karen said.
Karen is a grandmother to five and has lived in the area for 17 years.
We want to thank Karen for recently spending time with us and telling us more about her life and love of Hall County.
Question: What led you to open Lakeside Market?
Answer: “Well, first and foremost, Lakeside Market is owned by the same corporation that owns Liberty Candy. We opened Lakeside Market in the old, little building about two years ago. Then me and my husband built the new building, and moved into it. My son also moved into it…his business partner owns Beer Me. Valerie, at Homecare Matters, is in between.
“There was something missing in the area as far as whole foods, an European market, and fresh breads. We have baked goods, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies…homemade bread, Italian olives, charcuterie, and artisan cheeses. We have also added wine in the past year. There was just a need for it, I think. I was thinking about what I would want, that I can’t get and would have to go to a fresh market or Whole Foods or Sprouts to get. It had to be small, though, because it’s such a small community.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County, and what do you love there?
A: “Antebellum, hands down. I love anything that Chef Nick makes, but my favorite is the duck.”
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Hall County?
A: “Seventeen years.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Hall County?
A: “That would be either Tracy McDaniel, Allison St. Clair, or Valerie Darling. They have a joy for life, and they attain their joy three different ways, for their three different lives. But every time we come together there’s laughter, there’s camaraderie, there’s raising each other up. It’s a core group that I just love being apart of. They make everything brighter.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: “Paris, France. The bread, the wine, the cheese. I love Europe. I’ve been around because of my past wine importing experience. Paris, just like everyone know, is mesmerizing. It’s call the City of Lights for a reason.”
Q: What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
A: “That would have been the ‘Sound of Music,’ when it first came out in the 60s.”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “Absolutely follow your passion, but don’t ever forget your marketing or business strategy.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “The only thing I have on my bucket list is to help the City of Flowery Branch, and any other private individual or company, fulfill their dream of redeveloping Main Street, and the old city of Flowery Branch. I know we’re headed in the right direction. The city is working hard, but it takes time to do this. It can’t be an instant success. It’s taken 125 years for this town to grow. We have the foundation of some of these old, charming buildings, but we have some new buildings that I’m really excited about, with the redevelopment of the city. I think putting all my efforts into this street and this town, as far as real estate and opening two businesses, I’m really cemented in. So, I want to see in happen. I want to see it grow. And again, I know it takes time, but the city is working towards that goal now, and we finally got approvals. Finally, got the right people at the table. I’m excited about what happens in the next year or so, with the redevelopment of Old Town.”
Q: What are three bands you would like to see?
A: “The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Johann Sebastian Bach.”
Q: What current/former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Hall County?
A: “The Flowery Branch Antique Auction House. Tom passed away last year, and he was the rock behind it, so it just went away. On Monday nights, it was fun, even if you didn’t need anything, to go and people watch. You saw people you wouldn’t normally see, or you would see people that have come into your shop, or people you go to church with. It was a real community event, to go to the antique auction. I’m going to miss that.”
Q: Choosing someone alive and non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch with?
Why? Where in Hall County would you take them?
A: “Ina Garten, she’s a chef, and her nickname is ‘The Barefoot Contessa.’ Some of the foods she makes are just incredible. I would let her pick, I wouldn’t pick the place.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Hall County?
A: “I adore the people, of course. The people keep us going. The regular customers are fun, and some are past being aquaintances and I consider them friends. But I love that the mountains are 40 minutes away, and we have the lake as a our playground. My family spends a lot of time on the lake. I think it’s unique, because what other community has what we have? With the mountains so close, and a lake with over 40,000 acres…right in our backyard! There is no other place like it.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
A: “I’ll have these shops. Hopefully, I’ll be romping around with my five grandsons. I still think I’ll be here on Main Street.”
Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “I’ve been a writer for years, and you might actually see a book in the next few years. I also play the piano, but I’m petrified to play in front of people. I took lessons for seven years, at two different parts of my life, as a child and as an adult.”
Q: What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: “Love, comfort, and food.”
Q: If you had a full time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, housekeeper, driver, coach, physical fitness trainer, or nanny?
A: “Well, I’m too old for a nanny, and I don’t even like to hear chef’s opinions on my baking, so I’ll go with housekeeper.”
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email firstname.lastname@example.org.