The staff at Evins Mill is a diverse lot. Some are quite young, while others are reaching that Medicare age. Some were born right here in good ol’ Dekalb County, while others hail from as far away as Virginia. Some can prepare a most delicious meal, while others can build a deck or fix a dryer. We may be an eclectic set of folks, but we’re united by a shared affection for Evins Mill and by a shared mission that is embodied in our service ethic: “invisible service anticipating every need.” All of us hope you experience that ethic during your stay.
Jason Evans, Executive Chef
Born and raised in Smithville, Jason graduated from the National Center for Hospitality Studies at Sullivan College in Louisville, KY and spent the following six years as Executive Chef for Clipper Cruise Line. In 2002, Jason joined Evins Mill, transforming its cuisine from side show to center stage. Jason draws culinary inspiration from his world travels, rural southern roots & an excitement for finding the best local & fresh ingredients available.
Jason & his wife Sharon live on their family farm, where they’re raising their two children. Jason is active in the local community, serving on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, fundraising for Habitat for Humanity, teaching culinary classes, and coaching a local youth soccer team.
Tina grew up in Overton County, Tennessee. Before coming to Evins Mill in 2000, she worked at her family’s business. As Innkeeper & Assistant Chef, Tina wears a lot of hats, preparing meals, welcoming guests, addressing special requests and overseeing housekeeping – just to name a few. Guests will notice in Tina that rare combination of professionalism and sweetness. She enjoys “being able to meet and take care of all the new and returning guests.”
Chris Dotson, Assistant Innkeeper, Bar Manager & Guest Attendant
Chris was born and raised in Tennessee and has lived in Smithville since he was a child. He has worked in hospitality for many years, taking his first job at Evins Mill in 1996. After leaving the Inn for a spell, Chris returned in 2007 in the capacity of Guest Attendant and Assistant Innkeeper, backing up Tina when she needs a break. He enjoys working with guests to make their stay an enjoyable experience.
Alison Harris, Assistant Chef
Alison took her first cooking job in 1984 and soon thereafter moved into fine dining. Having moved to Tennessee in 1994, she eventually found herself helping out the Evins Mill staff with large events and more recently joined the Evins Mill team in a more permanet fashion as Assistant Chef. Alison enjoys the room for personal creativity in the kitchen as well as the "staff's ability to mesh in a graceful way, enabling us to provide seamless service to our guests." Alison is an outdoor enthusiast, enjoying horses and caving in the natural beauty of DeKalb County.
Dorothy Knipfer, Event Planner & Guest Attendant
Dorothy was born and raised in Smithville, Tennessee. After working at Evins Mill in the late ‘90s, she later graduated from Sullivan University with a degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management and worked as Food & Beverage Director at the Whitestone Inn. Returning to Evins Mill in 2006, Dorothy loves the peaceful surroundings of the Innand its “sweet and spirited” staff. She’s blessed with three wonderful sons and works with one of them here at Evins Mill – Executive Chef Jason Evans. Her husband Steve is also a chef.
Diane Shifrin, Bartender & Guest Attendant
Diane is from Kansas City, Missouri and has traveled most of the continental United States. After a short hiatus, Diane returned to Evins Mill in June 2002. Guests will observe that Diane is the consummate professional when it comes to anticipating guest needs. She "loves the atmosphere of the Main Lodge with its old logs and stone fireplaces," noting that "it lends itself to both romance and camaraderie." Diane enjoys working with her fellow staff members – "everyone pitches in to get the job done, and we do it right!"
Darla Guess, Guest Attendant
Darla grew up in Old Zion, just east of Smithville. She joined Evins Mill in July 2002 as a Guest Attendant. Guests will note her kind and down home disposition as she serves them breakfast, lunch and dinner. She comments that staff members at Evins Mill are "more like family than co-workers." She enjoys “meeting guests, who seem to come from all walks of life,” and "helping them with their needs and requests."
Janet Ashford, Housekeeper
Janet was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee but now lives in Smithville. She joined the staff in 2006. Keeping with an Evins Mill tradition, Janet's daughter, Melissa, works beside her as a housekeeper (see below). Janet loves the beautiful work environment and the peaceful and quiet setting. In her words, "it's a place I would love to go to get away from the busy life of home and city."
Gary "git 'er done" Wince, Plant Manager
Gary, our furry-faced plant manager, has been with Evins Mill since 1995. In this capacity, Gary is responsible for improvement projects at the Inn. As Plant Manager, he also ensures the repair and maintenance of our equipment and fixtures. In his words, “this means having to unstop commodes when needed, etc., etc. Please take this into consideration on your next visit.” Even so, Gary contends “I love my job!” He should. Gary met his wife Kim, a co-worker at Evins Mill, whom he married at the Inn a few years later.
Todd Guess, Groundskeeper
Todd grew up in Virginia but found his way to Smithville. He later found his way to Evins Mill in 2010 by way of his wife, Darla Guess, a Guest Attendant at the Inn since 2002. In addition to maintaining the grounds - a daunting job for one man - Todd is responsible for all set-ups and break-downs for the many special events the Inn hosts throughout the year, whether it be a meeting room or a wedding ceremony. Todd loves the outdoors, and as such his job, which keeps him there most of the time.
Laurie Cooper, Office Manager & Den Mother
Laurie joined Evins Mill in 2004 to process reservations but soon started managing the whole office. From Birmingham, she graduated from the University of Alabama. Moving to Nashville in 1977, she worked as Administrator for the Visual Arts Alliance. Her husband Jim teaches History at The Harpeth Hall School. Before learning of this position, Laurie & Jim celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary at Evins Mill. Her son got married at the Inn a few years later.
William Cochran, Jr., Ringleader
With no business training and less business sense, William opened Evins Mill in 1994 with his father Bill. Save for the two years he spent at Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Business, he has remained actively involved in the Inn’s day-to-day operations. Today, he oversees the accounting, reservations & sales office, working alongside Laurie. Though responsible for operations at the Inn as well, he is in practice the staff’s head cheerleader. William is a native of Nashville, where he lives with his wife Eden, whom he met at Evins Mill, and their daughter Ivy.