Gigi’s brings coffee back to Joliet commuters

Sherry Kimble is an entrepreneur ‘on the go’

Sherry Kimble shows the giant turtle candies she has for sale at her Gigi's Sweets on the Go stand inside the Joliet Gateway Center train station. Aug. 31, 2023.

Gigi’s Sweets on the Go has opened in the Gateway Center train station in Joliet, bringing coffee back to commuters and Sherry Kimble back to a brick-and-mortar location.

In her first day of business Aug. 31, Kimble said there is something unique about the customer contact that comes from being in a storefront.

“I get a chance to talk with my customers a little more. That’s nice.”

People were congregating around her stand, which goes far beyond coffee.

Gourmet popcorn and candy, cinnamon coffee cake and doughnuts, and breakfast bagels with bacon or sausage are some of the items on the menu at the stand, which opens at 5 a.m.

Doyle Landry of Chicago (left) was among customers stopping at Gigi's Sweets on the Go in the Gateway Center train station in Joliet on its first day of business Thursday,  Aug. 31, 2023.

“Surprisingly, today we had our first customer, and he had a mango smoothie,” Kimble said. “Then, our next customer wanted a mango smoothie.”

She was expecting the pre-dawn crowd to be demanding more caffeine.

Kimble herself was adjusting to the earlier hours. But she used to get up at 3 a.m. and drive to Midway Airport during a 30-year career at United Airlines before retiring from a customer service position.

Then, she opened a sweet shop in downtown Joliet that was right off Van Buren Plaza for 10 years before closing the doors, but not the business, in 2019. Kimble took the business online. Later, she took it on the road, selling her specialties at festivals and other events out of a pop-up tent.

Kimble is keeping both the online and event ends of the business.

Sherry Kimble last week opened Gigi's Sweets on the Go at the Gateway Center train station in Joliet. Aug. 31, 2023

This summer, she bought a food truck and held a grand opening for Gigi’s Sweet Junk ‘n the Truck.

“The truck is go-go-go,” she said, describing the pace of the event business in between customers at her new train station stand. “This is more personal.”

Commuters, who haven’t had a shop to stop at in the train station since the last occupant closed in 2019, were glad to see Kimble arrive.

“I’m here Tuesdays and Thursdays going into Chicago,” said Virginia Ammons of Joliet. “It’s nice to get coffee and jump on the train.”

Patti Shields of Geneva comes to Joliet to take Amtrak to St. Louis.

“I take the train every week, and I’m like, ‘When is this lady going to open her doors?’ ” Shields said. The two already had gotten to know each other before Thursday, stopping to talk as Kimble was preparing the stand for the opening.

A sign board outside the Gateway Center train station at 90 E. Jefferson St. in Joliet advertises the new Gigi's Sweets on the Go.

Doyle Landry of Chicago, who teaches entrepreneurship and stopped at Gigi’s Sweets on the Go coming into Joliet on the train for business, talked about the impact of people like Kimble in the business world.

“Entrepreneurship is a catalyst,” Landry said. “You see someone and how she loves what she does, and people think, ‘I can do what I love.’”

Kimble does seem to love her work, which she does with smiles and laughter as she talks about what Gigi’s on the Go has to offer.

Her Chicago-style cheese and caramel popcorn is better than what commuters can find on the other end of their train trip, Kimble claims. They can get Metropolis brand coffee at her stand, which also is a favorite in downtown Chicago. And, she enjoys showing the giant turtles candy she has to sell, both deeply dipped in chocolate and “naked” with the caramel and nuts exposed.

“It’s hard, but it’s your passion,” Kimble said of being in business for herself. “You put all the time and work into it, and it’s gratifying to see the results at the end of the day.”

The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry will have a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for Gigi’s on the Go at 4 p.m. Thursday.