Hiawatha Chef Supply established itself in Grand Chute several years ago, but most people don’t know much about it. Even though it welcomes the general public, it looks industrial and is a bit off the beaten path, on Greenville Drive next to the former Dixie’s Clubhouse.
That will change in June when Hiawatha moves to a more visible building at 2604 W. Wisconsin Ave., broadly between Howie Voigt’s Appliance and Suess Electronics.
Hiawatha owner Tracy Thompson sells commercial-grade kitchen supplies for homes, restaurants and bars. With the amount of business he’s doing, he said it made sense to buy the building where he could triple his space and exposure.
“Business has been good and growing. I see the potential. With this new location, it will be easier to find us, especially if you’re not from the area,” he said.
Thompson’s mother founded the business in Escanaba in 1955. He and a brother bought it in 1996, then Thompson bought out his brother in 2003. He opened the Grand Chute branch in 2010.
The Appleton area has been a hotbed of restaurant growth, he said. “In the Upper Peninsula, we have more closing down than building. The population has declined. In Appleton, there are more cars going by here in one day than the U.P. has people.”
The sign on the building will say Hiawatha Chef, Bar & Janitorial Supply, but it will be open to consumers.
So far, Thompson has gutted the building and added a loading dock. The store will be set up in showrooms that look like bar and supper club settings.
The company’s website is Hiawathachef.com. Thompson said his chief competition is online, but opening a store is still essential. “Most people want to come in and touch and feel before they buy.”
—Maureen Wallenfang: 920-993-1000, ext. 287, or email@example.com; on Twitter @wallenfang