A Huntley couple is bringing a national charcuterie box and board catering company to the suburbs by opening the first Illinois franchise of Graze Craze in Schaumburg.
Co-owner Kelly Clark already has a background in the culinary field, and both she and her husband, Chris, are veterans, like company founder Kerry Sylvester.
They’d been considering opening a business together when Kelly Clark learned of a possible Graze Craze franchise opportunity in February 2022 that could provide the corporate support she didn’t have at her first business, a bakery in Antioch.
Chris Clark, who works as a mechanic on the machines at the U.S. post office sorting center in Carol Stream, then went to a conference in Norman, Oklahoma, where an existing location happened to be, and sampled a charcuterie board.
“It was really good,” he said.
“We love the concept,” Kelly Clark said. “Who wouldn’t like it?”
A charcuterie board offers a selection of different varieties of meat, cheese, fruit, bread and cracker combinations. One of the first lessons for newcomers is the pronunciation of charcuterie itself – “shar-KOO-ter-ee.”
“I explain what it’s all about,” Kelly Clark said. “I think it’s really popular right now.”
The location in the northwest suburbs represents both an appeal and a challenge to the eager entrepreneurs. The business opened in late December at 1437 W. Schaumburg Road, and the Clarks are hoping the arrival of spring, along with greater awareness of what they offer, will make for a successful 2023.
“It’s been hard,” Kelly Clark said. “No one knows about us. One of the reasons we picked Schaumburg is for all the corporate businesses here. Things are picking up now.”
Among Chris Clark’s tasks has been the lion’s share of the deliveries, both those within the usual 5-mile radius as well as others that occasionally take him all the way to downtown Chicago.
The couple is on the verge of hiring more employees who would combine the tasks of making the charcuterie boards and delivering them.
“You don’t have to have a culinary degree to do this,” Kelly said. “I do have one.”
For more information, visit grazecraze.com/schaumburg-il.