After Jaska Russell opened her Occasions gift shop in Portland, Tennessee 20 years ago, a funny thing happened. Customers began asking for a little snack while they shopped. So she began serving coffee and cakes that are as beautiful as they are delicious. Then eight years ago, a full-blown restaurant opened out of Jaska’s idea to have friends come in one day a week and help cook – hence the name 5 Chefs.
Portland was known as the “Strawberry Capital of Tennessee” up until the 1960’s when industrial farming took over. However, the city still holds a Strawberry Festival every May. In honor of that heritage, 5 Chefs’ most popular dessert is their Strawberry Cake featuring Portland strawberries (when they are in season). The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, breakfast Saturday, and dinner Friday and Saturday evenings.
Their Southern-Living-style gift shop moved into The Gossett House in 2000, a historical home over 100 years old. “Every floor creak is worth it because you can’t build old character!” Jaska explains. In 2004, a major addition was made to the house for the restaurant, more display rooms, a coffee shop and a large conference room for larger parties like bridal showers and business luncheons.
The first thing you’ll notice when you enter Occasions gift shop is the antique tin ceiling. As you travel from room to room, you’ll be enchanted by the attractively-displayed gifts, jewelry and clothing. These displays are updated seasonally, and the store is currently decked out in Fall colors and pumpkins to greet you, featuring the scent of maple syrup, their best-selling candle. You will also see an original painting of The Gossett House by local celebrity Ronnie McDowell.
Now one of Tennessee’s largest gift shops, “Occasions (gift shop) is my love; it really has a part of me in it,” explains Jaska. “We have also added a florist to make custom arrangements for your home – along with sending to local funeral homes.”
They have been with Nashville Wraps from the very beginning. “Nashville Wraps has always been consistent with their products and customer service, and the delivery is top notch,” adds Jaska. Occasions offers free gift wrapping with a purchase over $10. “Our customers are always pleased with our gift bags from Nashville Wraps and enjoy the colorful tissue paper we use.”
“Occasions – 5 Chefs is such a great place to meet girlfriends or a ladies group for a delicious lunch and some great shopping, all in one place,” says Kathy Green of Nashville Wraps.
Currently they use the newspaper and radio advertising, as well as Facebook, Constant Contact for email marketing, magazines, and a local spot with Fox 17 Tennessee Mornings. Their biggest form of advertising, though, comes from word of mouth from happy customers.
See the charm of Occasions – 5 Chefs for yourself in the following two featured videos including “Tennessee Crossroads”: