Steph Steele caused a stir when she opened Tiny Grocer in Congress South less than a year into the pandemic. The grocery store was nearly cancelled, and here is this specialty grocery store, brightening visitors’ days and pantries with local, high-quality foods. Building on its runaway success, it is already planning a second location, this time in Hyde Park.
The building at 4300 Speedway once housed the post office, but it’s ready for tastier things. Steele says the developer has already started construction and no more “owner’s duties” while the rest of the team sends in permits from the city. This location is much larger than the original, with room for what Steele has always lacked: seats.
“While we have a few stools out front here – and we’re adding a little misting system here at South Congress – we’ll have indoor seating and wonderful patio seating at the new location,” Steele told CultureMap. . “We make quite a bit of food here, but it’s shocking in the very small space…and in an electric oven.”
Along with the new seating, the extra space means Tiny Grocer can have a full kitchen — specifically one that lets cooks make burgers and steaks among many other dishes filling new dinner and brunch menus. Given that Hyde Park is more of a residential area and less of a tourist destination, this more settled feel is a significant shift likely to displace the niche filled by Tiny Grocer.
“Hyde Park is such a lovely area. There are women with strollers, people riding bikes and people walking. Putting this little market that already seems very popular in a neighborhood like that is very exciting,” says Steele. “But adding the restaurant…that’s how we take it to the next level.”
The grocery store and restaurant halves should blend into each other as customers roam the space or follow their noses. Likewise, Steele sees ways to improve hybrid counter and table service. So far only the basics have been laid down: order at the counter and a waiter will bring it to the table.
“I have a few ideas up my sleeve to make sure the service doesn’t stop there,” she says.
There’s quite a bit of mystery surrounding the changes, things that Steele teases with an air of trickery. (That charisma played a part in the mountain of enthusiastic press the industry vet received). She thinks the government building is beautiful in its simple linearity, and renovates around the existing structure with “a nod” to the planned post office which she won’t reveal yet.
Although there is no specific timeline for this project, the team hopes to see it open by the first half of 2023. More information on Tiny Grocer, including listings of many of its products, skin care products, are available at tinygrocer.com.