A True People-Person

Smithfield Inn Sign

Meet Nicki Johnson, Manager of the Smithfield Inn

   When Nicki Johnsonbegan her job bussing tables at the Smithfield Inn in November of 2000, she had no idea that she would still be there 16 years later, having worked her way up to Manager in 2012. But there was something that really spoke to her about the place from day one.

   “A friend of mine from school bussed tables there and they needed help. I walked in, fell in love and the manager, Janice Scott hired me. I’ve been here ever since.”

Today of course, Nicki knows exactly what makes this historic inn, built in 1752, so special. There’s Mozell Brown. who has been making and serving her famous Smithfield ham rolls here for over 50 years. There’s the fact that the Inn can boast that George Washington really did sleep here. There are even some outrageous ghost stories that add some extra folklore to the Inn’s reputation. But what really makes the place so special to Nicki that she’s spent the past 16 years here, are the customers.

   “It’s like Cheers. We know everyone and if we don’t, we get to know them. You don’t come across a place like this very often. Throw its history into the mix and it’s a very special place.”

In fact, when asked, Nicki can’t name just one or two favorite customers. She simply can’t!

Well, of course there’s Lewis and Sandra Little, and Jean and John Moody…”

Born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, Nicki arrived in Virginia at the age of two when her father took a job as an electrician at the packing plant. But she’s planted deep roots in her adopted home, marrying Donald (a native of North Carolina), and raising three children with him, 8-year-old Taylor, 7-year-old Jordan, and baby Gracie Lyn, just four months old.

   “…and then there’s Kenny Brown, Linda Austin, Tom and Debbie Hearn…”

The Smithfield Inn is a “second home” to Nicki. Though her plate is full raising three young children and working full-time, Nicki explains, “Some days are stressful but I would not have it any other way. Life is busy and I am very thankful to be where I am and with the people I have by my side – both at work and home.”

   “…Oh! Mandy! And Gene! And Cheryl and Kevin…”

   “My A-Team are all amazing and do a great job” says Nicki, naturally crediting her employees with the Smithfield Inn’s success. She knows it takes a team to run such a unique property.

   “…and there’s Bill and Kathy Rittenhouse, Eddie and Darlene Brock…”

The Smithfield Inn’s dining options include the elegant and newly remodeled restaurant, the comfortable William Rand Tavern with its full bar (where “Wednesday Wing Nights” are especially popular with the younger crowd), and the gorgeous garden gazebo for al fresco dining. The cuisine is proudly Southern, featuring Smithfield® pork products – naturally, since the Inn is owned by the Fortune 500 company. In fact, the Inn is a favorite for Foods’ executives who work just down the street at the company’s corporate headquarters.

   “…Rudi, Lee and Pam…” 

Other customer favorites include shrimp nights, tapas items and of course, Mozell’s ham rolls, once named one of America’s “50 Great Plates” by USA Today. Nicki says their specials are always popular (watch for them on the Inn’s Facebook page!) and boasts that “Our signature is our crab cake entrée, and our ‘Pork and Apples’ dish has been featured on the Travel Channel’s ‘Pork Paradise’ program several times now.”

Lodging options at the Smithfield Inn include the beautifully appointed historic suites and the more casual Garden House rooms located just off the gazebo. The Inn is also a favorite gathering place for special events such as concerts in the garden, their popular Sunday Brunch and more.

   “…Alan and Deb, the Trexlers…”

While the Smithfield Inn continues its tradition of exceptional cuisine and elegant, unique lodging, this historic icon, located in the very heart of Smithfield’s Main Street is really much more. It’s a symbol of Southern Hospitality – a “people place.” Which is why the town is so very fortunate that this treasure is in the hands of such a “people person” – Nicki Austin.

   “…the Holt’s, Woody, Becky, oh! I know I’m forgetting someone!”

The Smithfield Inn
112 Main Street

Website: SmithfieldInn.com
Facebook page: Smithfield Inn

Travel Channel Pork Paradise featuring the Smithfield Inn:

William Rand at the Inn