Small grocery stores were once a common feature in neighborhoods. Dozens of them dotted central Casper at one time.
Before families had multiple cars, having a nearby place to buy groceries and supplies within walking distance was essential to urban living. Over time they became less essential and have mostly vanished.
Only one such store has somehow bucked the trend.
Article continues below...
Grant Street Grocery and Market, nestled on the corner of Grant and Divine Streets, has been serving area customers almost continuously for 100-years.
The little landmark nearly missed its centennial. After months of struggling, the previous owners closed the store without warning in late 2015.
“I think the age of the building started to take its toll,” said co-owner Lindsey Grant. “A lot of these things that were original to the store just started to break down.”
Grant, along with neighborhood friends Terry and Del Johnson and Susan and Doug Holmes, decided to become business partners and rescue the local landmark.
“We were all having dinner and started talking about what Grant Street Grocery could be to the neighborhood and the community.”
The building was a time capsule, but not necessarily in a good way.
The systems were obsolete. Flooring was rotted from decades of water leaks and general wear and tear. There was no place for a professional kitchen. There were structural issues.
The partners decided the building needed a complete gut overhaul in order to operate in the modern world.
“We had to essentially start from scratch…we just wanted to do it right,” said Grant.
The once dingy time capsule is now a bright, modern market that would feel at home in hipster Brooklyn. A dodgy old rear addition was demolished and rebuilt with a state-of-the-art cooler and professional kitchen.
Rather than standard grocery staples, the store specializes in unique and artisan foods, specialty meats and cheeses, and sweets from boutique makers. The Coffee Lab inside the store sells fine single origin beans and makes espresso and pour-over coffee. They also offer breakfast, lunch and take-home dinners.
With all of the physical improvements, the partners aimed to keep the same soul of the old corner store.
“Grant Street is special because of what it has offered to the community for 100 years,” said Grant. “I’ve had 70-year-old people come in and tell me stories about buying candy here when they were kids…it’s nice to continue that for the next generation.”
Grant Street Grocery and Market is celebrating its centennial all next week starting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and culminating with an all-day block party on Saturday, Sept. 15. See their Facebook page and website for more information.