Making Thyme Kitchen has been around the block. They know a thing or two about helping busy people (read: everyone) save time and eat well.
You may have heard about them 13 years ago when they first started their prepared food business over at Fountain Street Church. Maybe you discovered their oven-ready entrées a few years later at their Cherry Street kitchen, or more recently grabbed one of their salads while lunching at the Downtown Market. Well, thanks to their mouthwatering menu, the kitchen is now on a new block—and is putting down roots.
Just a few weeks ago, the grab n’ go kitchen moved into its new home at 2409 Eastern Ave. Sandwiched between other thriving local businesses in the Alger Heights Business District, the new building shines just a little brighter than those beside it, its paint just a little fresher. Although the final storefront design won’t be unveiled until its grand opening in the coming weeks, green letters hanging in the smudge-free windows let you know Making Thyme is open for business.
When you walk in the front door you’ll be greeted by a deli case of offerings that will make you say “one of each, please!” You’ll find items like broccoli bacon salad, roasted fall vegetables, pulled pork, Cuban black bean salad and sweet pepper coleslaw.
If you’ve visited Making Thyme’s past locations, the first thing you’ll notice here is that it has doubled in size and now features an expanded retail and dining space. The pristine stainless steel kitchen boasts three large prep stations, a massive industrial hooded range, double compartment sink—and not a fingerprint to be found. The walls are lined with a huge walk-in cooler and shelves of alphabetized spices: cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, chili powder, cloves, coriander, cumin—and that’s just the Cs.
Then you’ll see two smiling faces behind the counter eager to introduce themselves to their neighbors.
Those belong to Karen and Ken Bryan. The business owners are a husband and wife team and lifelong Michaganders who have tried to leave, but just keep moving back. With a shared passion for cooking, the couple has always kept an eye on the world of food service. In the early aughts, their attention was caught by a prepared food business with a great idea but a flimsy business model. When that business eventually bit the dust, the Bryans thought, “Hey, we can do that. But better.” Thirteen years later, they are still proving themselves right.
Now, with a bigger and better space, they plan to remain on that trajectory. They’re thrilled to be part of the Alger Heights neighborhood, which they call home themselves. “We were welcomed by the neighborhood association with a fruit basket!” said Karen Bryan, with a “can you believe that?” smile.
The new location affords new luxuries—the most obvious for the Bryans: the end of rent and leases. More space also means they’ll be able to expand and differentiate their services—like baking. “We’re not going to do breads–many other places do beautiful bread and we’ll let them stick to it,” Karen Bryan chuckled. “But our pastry chef is going to do desserts–cafe cakes, pies, cookies.”
The Alger Heights Business District also offers the perk of free parking for customers—a big change from the downtown space. And due to its location, it’ll get a lot more foot traffic. “It’s dogs and kids.” Karen Bryan said of the steady stream of families that walk past the storefront windows.
Now more about that food
In a time when people seem to be doing all they can to avoid the grocery store and turning to meal-kit and food delivery companies, this neighborhood business demands your attention. Like the popular subscription services, it’s convenient and, of course, delicious. However, Making Thyme has a few extra reasons to brag:
• They’re all about local. The Bryans are Grand Rapidians and that’s where they like to get their ingredients. All their meals are made-from-scratch with locally sourced ingredients. Their meat is hormone and chemical free and sourced from Walker-located butcher, Sobie Meats.
• Their food is ready now–no prep, no mess. All Making Thyme’s meals are fully prepared and ready to eat. You can choose from fresh deli selections or frozen entrees and enjoy a meal in minutes.
• They’re commitment free. Unlike many other meal-kit and food delivery services, Making Thyme lets you order what you want when you want. You can drop in the store to enjoy lunch in the cafe, pick up an entree to-go, or call to order dinner for your family for the week. Did we mention they offer free delivery?
• They keep it fresh. Making Thyme’s menu rotates each month, featuring 10 new entrées to keep things interesting. And within these entrées, you’re getting nothing but the freshest ingredients. The Bryans don’t warehouse food—they purchase only what they need—which means no surprise meats at the end of the month.
With the new space, the Bryans look forward to what’s next for Making Thyme and are ready to grow from an affectionately self-coined “micro-business” to a full-blown small business.
“We are masters of our own destiny now,” Karen Bryan said with a glow. “I feel like my kid is now a young adult!”
*Photos courtesy of Making Thyme