BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With less than two days before its grand opening, the occupants of the Hesse Seventh Street Marketplace are fully engaged in a transition to provide fresh offerings for shoppers in Fort Madison’s Main Street district.
Jimmy and Hitomi Wendorf closed on the building in March and have since assembled three other business owners to fill the building with fresh produce, coffee, and a multitude of spirits, the drinkable kind and others.
Julie Hohl, who owns Harvestville Farms with her husband Adam, has taken part of the building. They are currently painting and renovating what was once the north seating area of the Ivy. Offerings there will include fresh produce, jams, pickles, jellies, and some Iowa gift items.
“In regards to the beer and wine, it probably won’t be here June 1. But that’s still in our plans. We will be selling fresh produce, more of the things people crave – sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, peaches that kind of thing,” Hohl said.
“Everything else will be gift items such as Iowa t-shirts and that type of that thing. More dishes..some of the same stuff we have on the farm, but some stuff that doesn’t bode well in the outdoor element – lotions and soaps, too.
Hohl said she wanted to be able to provide a downtown produce option for people, but will also sell some of the more popular farm items and some additional items outside the farm venue including some beers and wines at some point. The outlet will also offer local Iowa syrup, local honey, and a small amount of baked goods.
She said the hours are still not 100% but she’s looking at Monday-Friday 10 to 5:30 or 6 to help the after-work crowd. Saturdays she said possibly 10 to 3 p.m. and they will be closed on Sunday.
The Wendorfs will be offering a patio-style taco counter called Tacos Tacos Takos, with the last spelling indicative of the Japanese word for octupus, giving customers a sense of the wild flavors of tacos that could be part of the venue.
Hitomi Wendorf said the June 1 grand opening will include music on the porch that makes up the Tacos, Tacos Takos outlet. A new coat of paint and signage separates the porch area from where Holly Frary will house her new “sip. (n.) a coffee and wine bistro”. Frary is renovating what used to be the main Ivy Bake Shoppe seating area.
Frary has pulled a blue and chocolate brown paint scheme and has brought some of her ambiance from her Mt. Pleasant location where she’s been running a successful bistro for close to two years. She has a full service coffee and espresso bar with all sorts of caffeinated and non-caffeinated choices.
She said the bistro will offer breakfast and lunch 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 earlier. “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.
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.
The connecting doors of each store front will be open so customers can move back and forth through the stores.
Lara Haas, owner of Sun Meets Moon Healing, a boutique of spiritual healing and soul discovery, 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. She’s also looking at providing some craft classes, possibly some kids classes, and maybe even incorporate some music.
“I’ve got lots of different ideas,” Haas said. “I think it’s a great group of people and I’m thankful Jimmy and Hitomi invited me to be a part of it and hopefully I can get out there and touch some people’s hearts. I know my space is a bit different, but I still think it will be a good flow here.”
Haas said she’s looking at hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 4 days a week and she’ll build on that.
Sugar Lumps, a well known cake and cupcake vendor in Fort Madison, will also be taking a portion of the marketplace to bring some of their sweet treats to the Main Street district.
Anastasia Garcia, the owner of Sugar Lumps, said her hours are still a bit fluid as well, but plans to be open at 9 a.m., Wednesday through Friday, but that is subject to change.
“We’re gonna have product to sell and that will vary depending on what’s in season, but we’re gonna use seasonal fresh ingredients,” Garcia said. “We’ll do wedding cakes and will probably be picking up a few birthday cakes along the way.”
She said the business will operate out of the kitchen that is located between Sun Meets Moon and Harvestville Farms, but Garcia said they will have their own access door but will also be interconnected with the other ventures as well.
“We’ll be open for the June grand opening. But overall it’s just gonna be me and I’m working out the menu kinks right now for what we’ll have for the week.”