At Cook’s Station in Greenville, the store includes a cafe, kitchen gadgets, and cooking classes

Too many cooks in the kitchen at this time of year?

Send them to Kelly Colacioppo at Cook’s Station. It can keep them busy for hours or all day.

Colacioppo has served professional and home cooks his entire life. But his most recent business is 11,000 square feet of just about everything cooking and food – and a little more.

As COVID-19 rocked the local economy in August 2020, Cook’s Station opened at 515 Buncombe Street near Heritage Green in downtown Greenville.

“It was the year of the disappearance,” says Colacioppo. “But we did.”

Kelly Colacioppo grew up working in her family’s restaurant supply business and now caters to home cooks.

The building may be new, with its cool black-and-white exterior, large, bright windows, ample parking, and the cheerful strip of parasol-topped tables outside.

But the location is familiar to Greenville regulars.

“When people asked us where we were going, whether they were younger or older, I would say, ‘This is where Gene’s restaurant was,’ and they knew where it was. It made me crack because Gene has been closed for 15 years, ”says Colacioppo.

Nothing about Greenville is new for Colacioppo, who worked with his father, Russell Ballentine, and grandfather, James Roy Ballentine, at the family’s restaurant supply store, Ballentine Equipment Co. on the West Side. of Greenville. Her father died two months before the new store opened.

“I worked with my grandfather, even as a child. The only time I didn’t work at Ballentine was when I was in college.

In 1997, Colacioppo opened Cook’s Station on Main Street in the West End. Ballentine continued to offer commercial equipment and supplies; Colacioppo took over the gadgets and gastronomic equipment.

The new business is a distillation of both (minus restaurant appliances and supplies) – with more inventory, new partners, cooking classes, as well as food, wine and beer.

The growth of the business has meant the growth of what the business does, Colacioppo says.

“I no longer think that one thing can sustain a business. Each part depends on the other part. You have to grow up, or you won’t.

Besides a new cafe, the ground floor is full of knives, gadgets, kitchen utensils, bar utensils, gift baskets, jars of food like jams – anything to do with the food.

Colacioppo describes the store as a “culinary type gift shop”.

But… “We have socks, earrings. I try to keep this as a market.

And each item is wrapped in a gift. “I started this 25 years ago and I will never stop. It’s the best marketing.

Private events are also winners, as are cooking classes.

The cooking school is upstairs, as well as a showroom for home appliances – run by her husband, John, who left the construction industry to join her 15 years ago when ‘she was still in the West End.

“We are different from any other appliance store,” explains Colacioppo.

Fine china and other specialty items for gift registers are scattered among household appliances.

Aside from the screens, Colacioppos have no problem working together. “He works up there. I work here. Here again, we are never at a loss for words.

On the ground floor, the cafe kitchen prepares a breakfast menu, a lunch sandwich menu, made-to-order cold cuts and ready-to-go meals. Some dishes are must-haves, but chefs love to cook something different every week.

People come for a sandwich to eat on the patio or in the small bar and lounge area inside, or they have dinner in the cooler and take it home.

And what better with lunch or dinner than wine, beer or olive oil?

“We had wine on Main Street, but it could have been 40 wines. Here we have hundreds of them, ”says Colacioppo.

Specialty and infused oils and vinegars are a popular new department at Cook's Station on Buncombe Street.

Specialty and infused oils and vinegars are a popular new department at Cook’s Station on Buncombe Street.

Customers can buy a drink or a bottle to take home. The store also sells beer.

But olive oil is a surprising favorite. Olivelle is olive oil, prepared like wine, she explains.

“He’s from a Montana company. The owner is awesome. She is young. She is the 13th person in the world to be like a wine sommelier, but for olive oil. She infuses it. Everything is organic.

“It’s like having a separate business. We have a lot of separate businesses.

As they moved through town, the Colacioppos formed new partnerships, which grew out of Kelly’s friendship with Allison Spinks, who owned a store called Kudzu on Augusta Road in the West End. The two kept company in the days before the area became a favorite haunt.

They conspired and dreamed, and when Spinks shut down Kudzu, his family – Allison’s husband, Steven; her brother, Whitney; and his brother’s wife, Dana, decided to join the new cook station in Buncombe.

Although the Spinks have mostly returned to their other activities, they are welcome partners and sit on the board. Allison almost always arranges the displays. “I call her my display angel.”

No matter the building, the number of partners, or even the inventory, owning a small business is not what most people imagine.

“Arrive at 5 am and stay until 10 pm… That’s all I’ve known. My children grew up here, ”says Colacioppo.

“You have to be prepared to work long hours, put your heart into it, and not do what you expect. But, at the other extreme, when my daughter called me and needed something, I could leave quickly.

The family lives nearby. The children, aged 16 and 21, work in the store on certain days. Colacioppo says she adores her family, neighbors, staff and customers.

“Sometimes on Saturdays I get tickled. People spend hours here. It’s funny. Women, especially. I think they feel safe here, ”she said. “I’m going to go out onto the patio or into the little bar and see a woman have a glass of wine, work on her computer, or just relax.

“I love my clients. “

Colacioppo encourages Greenville to love the businesses in his hometown in return.

“I hope they support the local people when they can. I hope they will support my kind partners, the Spinks family and all the businesses I grew up with. This is what gave Greenville the atmosphere that people love.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Cook’s Station in Greenville offers cooking classes, a cafe, and a boutique

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Todd A. Mitchell