If you've been to any of Snellville's events on the town green lately, you've probably met Amy Roper. As a local store marketer for , she's seen almost everywhere.
“Texas Roadhouse only builds in small towns,” she said. “They go for smaller towns because they know the towns will embrace our culture and what we're able to do as a community. If the town's too big, we can't help everybody.”
Her willingness to help the community helps keep the restaurant going strong. Even when things started to slump in 2008, the business didn't feel the pinch as badly as everyone else because of their “relevance to the community,” according to Roper.
Since her husband, , became manager of the same restaurant, she has become a part of the local community and has poured herself into the lives of its residents.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Roper grew up up north and gradually made her way south. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington with a degree in education.
It was while she was teaching in North Carolina that she met her husband. They moved back and forth between Georgia and North Carolina as job opportunities arose, but when her husband's father's health began to fail, they decided to permanently settle in Gwinnett County.
The chance to manage was a huge opportunity for both the Ropers.
“Texas Roadhouse is a huge proponent of education,” said Roper. “[Sam] asked if I could do Partners in Education as a marketer. They loved the idea and welcomed me with open arms. Here we are eight years later.”
Roper's background in education gave her the credentials to thrive as a marketer and community liaison in the school system. All of the marketing tactics Roper uses are grassroots.
“You won't ever see a Texas Roadhouse commercial,” she said. “We don't do a lot of mass media print. Everything I do is out in the community, my niche being in the schools.”
She has taken it on herself to provide events that honors the successes of students.
“Because of my experience with schools,” she said, “I know what they are in need of. The wheels are always turning of how I can let Texas Roadhouse be of assistance to the schools, PTAs, volunteers and teachers.”
Roper has become a staple in the community by making sure to involve herself and the restaurant she represents with local charities. The first charity she aligned herself with was the . She also linked up with , and, most recently, the , organized by the .
She has twice been nominated, in 2005 and 2011 respectively, as the "Local Store Marketer of the Year."
Roper's brand of marketing “builds a lot of loyalty,” she said. For example, the business has certain guests who eat with them two, three, and even seven days a week at times.
“They know our story, and we know theirs,” Roper said.
The Ropers story is one that is known throughout much of the community. Sam Roper's family has been affected by multiple sclerosis, something that they have been able to do charity work for through Texas Roadhouse. His father and sister both suffer from the disease.
And, last year, the business raised nearly $20,000 for research.
If Amy Roper sees a need in the community, she pursues it and finds a way to help. If her market can't pay, she arranges a trade.
“There is so little money at the schools,” she said, “they can't afford to feed the kids out of pocket.”
Last Christmas, she made sure they were involved with the .
“The outpouring at the restaurant was unbelievable,” Roper said. “The community all came out and dropped off their canned goods and bought gift cards.”
A percentage of the gift card proceeds was given back to the Southeast Co-op in the form of $1,700 worth of food. Roper would like to see more of those types of programs, and not just during the holiday season.
Roper and her family moved two months ago in order to live closer to the restaurant. They bought a house in Grayson, near Snellville. The couple has two young children. The oldest, Samantha, was born a couple of weeks before they began working at Texas Roadhouse.
"This is where people know us," she said. "We've kind of come home, and it's been a neat feeling."