Steph Steele made a big splash when she opened Tiny Grocer on South Congress less than a year into the pandemic. Grocery shopping was all but canceled, and here comes this specialty grocery store, brightening visitors’ days and pantries with local and high quality foods. Thanks to its meteoric success, it’s already planning a second location, this time in Hyde Park.
The building at 4300 Speedway used to house the post office, but it’s ready for tastier things. Steele says the developer has already started construction and more of the “landlord duties” while the rest of the team sends in city permits. This location is much bigger than the original, with room for what Steele always missed: seating.
“Although we have a couple of stools out front here — and we’re adding a little misting system here at South Congress — we’ll have indoor seating and beautiful patio seating at the new location,” Steele tells CultureMap. “We do quite a bit of food here, but it is shocking out of the very small space…and out of one electric oven.”
Along with the new seating, the additional space means Tiny Grocer can have a full kitchen — specifically one that allows cooks to make burgers and steaks among many other dishes filling up new dinner and brunch menus. Since Hyde Park is more of a residential neighborhood and less of a tourist destination, this more settled-in feel is an important change likely to shift the niche Tiny Grocer fills.
“Hyde Park is such a lovely neighborhood. There are women with strollers, and people riding bikes, and people walking. To put this little market that seems to be already really loved in a neighborhood like that is very exciting,” says Steele. “But to add the restaurant … is how we’re taking it to the next level.”
The grocery and dine-in halves should blend into each other as patrons browse the space or follow their noses. Similarly, Steele sees ways to improve the hybrid counter and table service. So far, just the basics have been nailed down: order at the counter and a server will bring it to the table.
“I have a couple ideas up my sleeve to make sure that the service doesn’t end there,” she says.
There is a fair amount of mystery around the changes, things that Steele teases with an air of trickery. (This charisma has played a part in the mountain of enthusiastic press the industry vet has received). She thinks the government building is beautiful in its simple linearity, and is renovating around the existing structure with “a nod” to the post office planned that she won’t reveal yet.
Although there is no firm timeline for this project, the team hopes to see it open by the first half of 2023. More information about Tiny Grocer, including listings for many of its products from produce to skincare, is available at tinygrocer.com.