BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With the purchase of the Hesse building on the books, Jimmy and Hitomi Wendorf are now unveiling plans for the first floor retail sections and those plans include some very unique ideas that should help to pump even more life into the Main Street district.
As just part of what the Wendorfs are calling the Hesse Marketplace, the couple is planning on opening a six-day-a-week seasonal taco patio on the screened-in porch of the building called Tacos, Tacos, Tacos.
Jimmy Wendorf said hours for the concept aren’t finalized but he and Hitomi are looking at something like 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday they would serve 11 to 7 p.m. He said the hours of operation are still fluid and so are the offerings.
“It’ll be a Caribbean theme taco concept with different kinds of tacos, from barbecue to fish and that will change. You might even come in and find a crawfish taco,” he said. “We’ll have some Mexican beers on hand too.”
The Wendorfs closed on the Hesse building in March and went to work on how to bring a market feel to the building while keeping the historical charm. Jimmy said he will hang a sign that has the word Hesse on it to bring that history back to the northeast corner of Seventh and G.
Holly Frary, owner and operator of “sip. (n.) a coffee and wine bistro” on the east side of the square in Mt. Pleasant next to the Chamber announced Saturday that she will be a part of the new marketplace venture.
Frary’s sip. has been open for almost two years in Mt. Pleasant and she is hoping for a June 1 opening to coordinate with her second anniversary on the square.
“We are a full service coffee and espresso bar,” Frary said. “We have all sorts of coffee drinks and non-caffeine offerings, as well.”
She said the bistro will offer breakfast and lunch bistro type food items made with fresh and “semi-healthy” ingredients and then will switch to small plate foods to go along with wine and craft beer offerings in the later afternoons.
“We want people to come in and take a load off,” Frary said. “They should just feel good about coming in and relaxing. I want to be able to offer the folks a nice place to just come and relax by themselves or with friends. In Mt. Pleasant you come and stay as long as you like. It’s a gathering spot.”
The wine will be sold by the glass, not the bottle, and the craft beers will be sold by the bottles and a lot will be from crafters and wineries not so familiar to the area.
“These come from small family-owned vineyards in the pacific northwest and France.”
She said her hours of operation in Fort Madison are also still up in the air, but people who want to get an early impression of what’s going on can visit the Mt. Pleasant facility from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7 a.m to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. She is closed on Sunday.
Frary said she has been approached about coming to Fort Madison for some time, but nothing ever felt right.
“When Jimmy came to me with this whole concept of a Hesse Marketplace, he had me,” Frary said. “Nothing ever felt right and then he calls me out of the blue and proposes this concept to me and I got excited instantly. It’s an amazing concept and hopefully it can help re-energize the downtown area with all the businesses going in there.”
The concept comes on the heels of the Eisentrauts reopening the Fox Theater just two blocks down the street and traffic seeing significant growth during the later evening hours in the Main Street area.
“Our store in Fort Madison will consist of a combination of Home Décor, a selection of fresh veggies and in-season fruits, our popular jams, jellies, pickles, relishes and salsas, local honey and maple syrup, along with some fresh baked goods,” said Julie Hohl of Harvestville Farm, another local iconic favorite.
“We are also excited to be possibly adding Iowa Wine and Iowa Beers, as well. We are currently still working through the logistics. We are very excited to be providing these options to the citizens of Fort Madison. We realize that our farm is a bit of a jaunt for customers to travel to during the week, especially for a customer just wanting some fresh produce or a quick gift item. By coming to Downtown Fort Madison, we will be able to serve those customers in a much easier fashion. We are currently finalizing our exact hours but plan to be open Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays,” Hohl said.
Hohl said as much as it was a good business opportunity, her family and staff is also excited to be a part of helping add to the downtown Fort Madison offerings.
“We are excited to be opening a location in downtown Fort Madison. Fort Madison has been very supportive to us over the past twelve years and this unique opportunity provided us with the chance to give back to the community and be part of the revitalization of downtown Fort Madison,” she said. “Fort Madison’s Main Street District and downtown area has a great deal of history and potential. We want to be a part of that growth. We want customers to come and stay for an afternoon in Fort Madison and enjoy all that it has to offer.”
The Wendorfs and Harvestville Farm are familiar business partners.
“We have been very fortunate in knowing Hitomi and Jimmy over the past few years and have enjoyed partnering with them for our popular Mother’s Day Brunch the past two years,” Hohl said. “We share a lot of the same values and passion when it comes to providing a service and experience to our customers. We have both started our businesses from the ground up and are familiar to growing our business based on customers’ wants and needs.”
Lara Haas, a local holistic healing expert, has also agreed to be a part of the new marketplace.
Haas will go in where the Artisan shop was on the north side of the building on Seventh Street. She said she wants to create some space where people can be inspired and provide some natural products to help them get in sync with their souls.
“I have a little work to do in my mind,” Haas said. “I’ve been on a journey myself for the past few years and as I did that I realized that I wanted to help people with their journey, too. I want to provide a space where I can teach some classes and help people feel better.”
Hours haven’t been defined as Haas said there is still a lot that will come together as the next couple of months pass, but she said it wouldn’t necessarily be by appointment as she wants people to feel they can stop in anytime she’s there. She did say she would have daytime hours for probably four days a week.
“Knowing that I can feel better in my own life and that I could get better, this is my journey and I want to do some sessions there and help be their guide,” she said.
When she was approached about being a part of the marketplace she reacted like others in the group have.
“You know, I said, ‘This is it. I gotta do this and get more out in the community,” Haas said. “It just feels right.”
The front part of the space will eventually be used for retail space with books, skin products, and other items of inspiration, but Haas said classes can be held for people who want to start improving the journeys in life, but also she would open the space for others to teach their own lessons.
“I want it to be a place of inspiration…meditation. I would even make the offer for other people to come in and let them teach about their lessons and journeys.”
Wendorf said Sugar Lumps, a bakery currently located on the west of end of Fort Madison, will also be joining the Marketplace with baked goods.