BUSHEL & PECK’S LOCAL MARKET
Nine years ago, Jackie Gennett and Rich Horbaczewski of Grass is Greener Gardens, an organic farm located in Monroe, started selling eggs, lamb and chicken at the weekly Beloit Farmers’ Market. Little did they know it would open a whole new world for their business right here in downtown Beloit.
The business partners are owners of the popular Bushel & Peck’s Local Market, 328 State St., which opened in 2008. The restaurant and market features local and regionally-produced organic foods and products that have attracted customers looking for healthy options. “Six years ago, organic food wasn’t thought of like it is these days,” says Gennett. “Bushel & Peck’s has brought a healthier fare to the masses.”
When the City of Beloit sent out a request for proposal to develop a full-service specialty grocery with a focus on farmers and producers, Gennett and Horbaczewski stepped up. They spent three months rehabbing the former Woolworth building before opening in July 2008.
“It’s not just about just transforming downtown; it’s about improving the image of the community,” Gennett says. “It’s about taking one step at a time. The City of Beloit was strategic in convincing us to open. Our business has given others the confidence to move in to other downtown locations.”
The Bushel & Peck’s menu is loaded with classic American dishes that have a vegetarian bent, including everything from burgers and fries to hummus to vegetarian chili served with blue corn chips. Bushel & Peck’s also offers takeout and catering for special events, and produces pickles, jam, sauces and relishes that not only supplies its restaurant and market, but is sold at a variety of farmer’s markets throughout the region.
“The most important thing to us is our food,” says Gennett, who previously worked in computer technology before acquiring the farm in 2002. “We source everything that we serve so you know you’re getting sustainable, local or organic ingredients. That’s really unique. We have an amazing breakfast on weekends, using eggs from local farms, including our own. It’s just really good food.”
Bushel & Peck’s is inviting and roomy with seating for 100, decorative artwork and a collection of used books for sale. “The intention of the design was to make it metropolitan and urban as if it’s in Manhattan, because it could be,” Gennett says. “It’s very spirited and lively. There’s a lot going on here, from pickles to books and everything in between. We sell beer and wine. We cater weddings. We have live music from folk to jazz on special occasions. It’s a great place to meet people in the community.”
The restaurant draws crowds from all walks of life, including high school students who come in for Thursday night trivia to senior citizens who stop in for a cup of coffee. “We engage with our customers, and we don’t give them an anonymous experience,” says Gennett. “You can get that anywhere. We look at this as a place for the community. It’s a lot easier to draw customers if you engage them.”
That trend is only going to continue.
“There’s a lot of variety in downtown Beloit, especially in the area of food,” Gennett says. “There are many choices of things to eat and explore; there are great boutiques and shops. Most of the coffee shops and restaurants are very welcoming to newcomers. One of the best ways to get engaged in a community is getting to know the regulars at different places around town. The people in Beloit are always happy to meet new people.”