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Female employees enjoy a Valentines Day celebration treat at work
Kay Blackstock listens Friday as the Sweet Tea Quartet sings traditional barbershop quartet songs during Performance Foodservice Milton’s annual Valentine’s Day lunch. The special lunch service is provided solely for the company’s female employees with service provided by the male employees. Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, was an invited guest.

Valentine’s Day was a special occasion for the ladies at Performance Foodservice Milton’s in Oakwood. While some companies may have treated the holiday like any other workday, men at the food distribution company went all out to ensure female employees were treated like queens.

Friday was the annual luncheon to celebrate the festive day, complete with fine cuisine and musical entertainment by a local barbershop group, The Sweet Tea Quartet of North Georgia Barbershop Singers, based in Cumming. They performed classics like “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

The cherry on top? A group of male employees acting as servers, refilling drinks and bringing out courses for the group of about 100 women.

“Everybody shows up because it’s probably one of the best events — the ladies think, anyway,” laughed Janean DeYoung, vice president of human resources.

“We have a master chef that’s on our staff, Chef Derin Moore, and he prepares a beautiful lunch for us. One of the reasons why it’s so special is because the men serve, so the president, the vice president of sales, the vice president of procurement and operations — we had a probably good 20 men that were filling our glasses and taking our plates,” DeYoung said.

On the menu was a salad of harvest lettuce, sandied pecans, raspberry crumbled blue cheese and red wine vinaigrette, followed by filet mignon with crab-stuffed flounder, a twice-baked potato and asparagus. Last, but not least, was dessert: a vanilla and clover honey-roasted pineapple with fig Bavarian white chocolate and almonds with cinnamon.

“It was awesome,” said Deona Wyman, an inside sales employee of the company for almost 13 years.

“I’ve been here a long time and it was one of the best. The executive chef is just amazing,” she said, adding that several male employees not serving at the luncheon stepped in to help perform the ladies’ jobs so they could enjoy the celebration.

Each woman also received a red rose and a box of chocolates.

The organization, which serves restaurants across the Southeast, has been recognizing the women on the holiday for more than a decade.

“It’s a special day,” DeYoung said. “Back when I started, around 13 years ago, Valentine’s Day was coming up and our president, Danny Berry, thought it would really be nice if we had a luncheon for the ladies ... the men help plan. And Tim Woods, our director of marketing, he really helped to put this one together.

“Every year, we’ve added to it. Ten years from now, I have no idea what it’ll look like,” she added, laughing.

Also in attendance were some invited guests from the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, with whom the company has a “tight partnership,” DeYoung said.

Though the recent winter weather posed a risk to event, the luncheon was able to carry on as planned, to the delight of the employees.

“We were able to take this time and have fun,” DeYoung said. “We decorated and we had a beautiful quartet (for) entertainment and a beautiful meal and the gentlemen serve us. What else could we ask for? Everybody works really hard, there’s not one position that doesn’t work hard, so to give back is really important to us.”

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