GENEVA – Geneva aldermen approved a liquor license June 27 for a new business, Chi-cuterie Boards and More, 321 Franklin St., Geneva.
Speaking for his wife, Michelle, who could not attend the meeting, Robert Parker said she had been a sales director for Oberweis Dairy home delivery, but during the COVID-19 shutdown, she wanted to do something on her own.
“She always had a dream to do it,” Parker said. “She had kind of been involved in charcuterie for a while. It was her opportunity. So she said, ‘What do you think?’ and I supported her wholeheartedly. We took a big step.”
Charcuterie refers to a meat and cheese board that typically includes cured meats, cheeses, crackers, nuts, fruits, vegetables and dipping sauces.
“She started kind of doing it from home as kind of a side business and it grew and we moved into a shared kitchen – a commercial kitchen – up on Stevens Street and kept growing from there,” Parker said.
His wife wanted to add retail and be able to do other things and they started looking for a retail space, Parker said.
“It took quite a while to find the right space. We had some kind of unique requirements as far as kitchen space goes,” Parker said.
By coincidence, Michelle Parker was out walking one day and ran into the owner of 321 Franklin St., who told her it was available and was she interested in renting it.
The couple did work to freshen up the space and opened June 1, Robert Parker said.
“Everything has been great so far,” Parker said. “We’ve had a really great start.”
First Ward Alderman Michael Bruno purchased a charcuterie kit and inquired about when they would get a liquor license.
“And here we are,” Bruno said.
“That’s been on the agenda since day one,” Parker said. “We’re anxious to get things going.”
“I just want to say I love the name,” 3rd Ward Alderwoman Becky Hruby said, referring to the play on words in the business title, Chi-cuterie.
“It pains me, but I have to give credit to my brother-in-law for that,” Parker said. “He’s in marketing in the city and it was kind of his idea.”
The Class C-3 liquor license granted to Chi-cuterie Boards and More allows retail sales for consumption on or off the premises, but in the original sealed bottle or container, according to the city code.
Michelle Parker said later in a telephone interview that she has a passion for entertaining and bringing people together, so this business is a natural fit.
“Hospitality is kind of at my core,” Michelle said. “To me, charcuterie makes it easier for people who don’t like to cook. Anybody can put out some meats and cheeses and gather people together. I wanted to share my love of charcuterie with other people and bring family and friends together. Especially after COVID, there was such a need … [for] a place where they can come, relax and enjoy.”
Another passion is supporting local small businesses and farmers, Michelle said.
For example, the wood from their charcuterie boards comes from downed trees on Illinois and Wisconsin farms.
Their jams, jellies, meats and cheeses come from a 250-mile radius of Geneva to keep their sources as local as possible, she said.
The store carries everything else someone would need for charcuterie entertaining such as crackers, cocktail napkins, glassware, hostess gifts and cheese knives.
“We will even do custom gift baskets and will ship across the U.S.,” Michelle said.
Their location, where the former Moveable Feast was located, includes patios where customers can sit, eat and drink wine, beer or cocktails such as bloody Marys or mimosas.
The store also offers non-alcohol bubbly waters such as sparkling green tea, cherry or basil-flavored, as well as fresh pressed juice, such as orange and watermelon.
More information about the store is at chi-cuterie.com.