Kimberly Thompson, Owner
Kimberly Thompson, the owner of The Grateful Gourmet Co., surprised even herself years ago when she discovered, after taking a job with a catering company, how much she loves to cook. Originally from Davenport, Iowa, and a graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in English, cooking wasn’t always what Thompson had in mind. It was while working for a catering company in Iowa City, though, that Thompson found her niche. She worked her way up the ladder to a supervisory position, and after moving to Galena worked for a time at Galena River Wine & Cheese. Seventeen years ago, Thompson was ready to branch off on her own.
The Grateful Gourmet Co. opened its doors for business. “It slowly built itself,” she noted, adding how scary it was at first to venture into unfamiliar territory and grow a business from the ground up. “I’m so glad I did it.” Quickly filling only 1,200 square feet of retail space was an easy task. Thompson witnessed the cooking and kitchenware market take off. In no time the store was filled with not only functional kitchenware items but also delicious foods and unique gadgets and gifts. In a short time the space started to outgrow itself, and in 2004 the upstairs was opened for retail as well. Thanks to cable channels such as the Food Network, and the public’s increasing interest in cooking, the demand was there. Customers started asking for items that they’d read about or saw on television. Their interests were spreading beyond just basic cooking. Curiosity in ethnic cooking, grilling, baking, and cooking techniques was increasing. The demand was there.
In 2008 Thompson also noticed an increase in her coffee and tea category, so much so, that she decided to take a chance and open a small separate store, GGII, down the street. The store carried locally roasted coffee beans, a variety of specialty teas and an array of the accessories that go with them. Fast forward to 2014. Thompson purchased the building next door to the original shop. Walls were knocked down as the space underwent extensive remodeling. Now, between the two floors, there are over 4,000 square feet of retail space. The businesses were combined, and now the store carries over 40 categories ranging from cookware and bakeware to bar equipment, cutlery, and specialty foods. There’s a section in the shop devoted entirely to coffee that is locally roasted and delivered daily. Customer favorites are the Perry Street Blend and Sumatra.
The tea section has grown through the customer’s input and requests. You will find a variety including not only typical black tea but also more exotic teas such as Golden Monkey, Oolong, and Rooibos. The Grateful Gourmet prides itself on keeping up with the latest cooking trends, carrying quality products, and providing excellent customer service. Prices are reasonable and often lower than box chain stores. Folks who come in are often surprised at not only the assortment but also how competitive the prices are. When customers go upstairs, they’ll find an assortment of products completely different from what is carried on the first floor. There are different sections for grillware, bakeware, canning and pizza making. Doors are often opened late to accommodate customers coming in after work, or tourists taking a stroll through town. When Thompson moved into the building years ago to set up shop, she ran across a quote that she holds close still today. She now has it written on cards to inspire her when she needs it. “Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, hard work and dedication.” Thompson is honored to live that quote every day, doing the work she loves.
Susan is not only Kimberly’s mother but has also been her right-hand woman from day one. An expert on tea, customer service, and being a mother hen to the staff, she is the glue of the business
Working with all of the younger women keeps her busy and constantly on her toes. She enjoys welcoming out of town visitor to the store, always remembering that they are on “vacation time.” Customers continually make a point to ask if Susan is working, or stop in to have a chat with her.
Along with customer service, Susan is an expert on tea, always educating staff and customers, testing and ordering teas, and keeping abreast of the latest tea gadgets.
Although Susan is Kimberly’s right-hand woman and mother, she always reminds everyone that Kimberly is her boss. Karma!
Ashley has been with The Grateful Gourmet since 2012. She is in charge of maintaining our website, ordering inventory, social media advertising, accounting, and a million other tasks that are thrown at her daily.
Originally from the area, she moved around to Colorado and Missouri, then returned to settle here permanently. She lives with her fiancé Aaron, sons Seth and Oakley, and rescue dog, Sam. This November Ashley and Aaron plan on getting married in beautiful Jamaica!
In her free time, Ashley loves to cook, read, and spend as much time as possible with her boys. She is a real foodie and loves experimenting with dishes. Her favorite food is pizza and anything to do with pizza. Did we mention that she LOVES pizza?
Becky has been with The Grateful Gourmet since 2009. She is our super busy worker, always able to find a task to keep her moving. You can count on her to keep items on the shelf lined up perfectly and everything spic and span! She is great with customers and often has locals come in to shop and visit with her.
A native “Galenian”, this is where Becky grew up and raised her family. Her passions are her three children, seven grandchildren, and many rescue animals, who somehow always manage to find her. Becky loves riding Harleys, getting tattoos, and cheering for the Chicago Bears. She also loves the outdoors, gardening, and canning the produce that she grows. Hot peppers are her specialty! She loves trying foods of all ethnicities, but her favorite is anything spicy! Yep, she likes it hot!
Jennifer (Jen) is a Galena native who has worked for The Grateful Gourmet since 2014. She has fantastic customer service skills and is warm to everyone that stops in the shop. She is also the artist of the group, continually surprising us with her artistic skills and creativity. Many of our beautiful signs are courtesy of Jen’s amazing skills.
Jen loves to learn about how and where good food comes from. A devout butter worshipper, she loves to cook and experiment with different herbs and spices in her effort to eat healthier!
Jen would love to have someday a hobby farm where critters and bountiful gardens grace her front yard. She is an avid outdoors woman and in her spare time can be found frolicking in the woods or by the river with her four-legged crew.
Josie is the creative genius at The Grateful Gourmet. She can transform the shop, windows, or displays, into works of art. She is also our “graphic artist,” making clever and funky signs, or beautiful newsletters.
Josie, her husband, and her perfect kitty moved to Galena in 2002 from the Chicago area. Between then and now, she had a baby, played some scrabble & messed with Photoshop. Her Sicilian background has led her to visit her extended family in Palermo throughout her childhood into adulthood, happily eating gelato and prosciutto along the way. For this, she loves to cook Sicilian inspired food. Her favorite is making and eating arancini (a yummy fried ball of savory goodness), pasta, pizza, and her husband’s freshly baked bread.
When Josie isn’t working or cooking, she enjoys watching her husband bake bread, listening to podcasts, drawing, perfecting her arancini recipe (approved by dad!), visiting family, taking care of her Airbnb, dreaming about a trip to Iceland, and most importantly, cuddling with her human and feline daughters.
Jessica is the baby of the bunch, being a junior in high school. She is also the weekend “runner,” making dips and drinks, restocking, cleaning, and keeping our sample area orderly.
She spends her free time reading, being involved in plays and musicals, and hanging out with friends.