Gourmet Gallery owner Karyn Miller Brooks has good memories of her store’s eight years in Ridgewood Village. But she admits that the lure of re-inventing her business downtown was ultimately too hard to ignore.

“There’s an exciting vibe downtown now and I hope we can capitalize on that,” Karyn said.

That includes the desire to take advantage of the “Magnolia effect,” she said, as visitors to the nearby Magnolia Market at the Silos may explore what the area around it has to offer.

“It felt right for us to make the move,” she added. “There’s a warmth here; you can feel the excitement. And all our neighbors have been so inviting.”

Gourmet Gallery opened its new location at 502 B Austin Ave. in early December. With the location change, it also meant Karyn and store manager Rachel Solano, who has been with her since the business began, needed to re-invent the store a bit at its new site.

Known for having cookware, bakeware and cutlery as well as the latest gadgets for customers, Gourmet Gallery’s new location — at about 700 square feet— is considerably smaller.

They can no longer carry as many items, she said.

“There’s a lot of stuff in storage,” Karyn said, but by no longer carrying as much, the store focuses on offering speciality foods and items, particularly local and Texas-made product such as caramels made by Dallas Caramel Company and the Crybabies brand of sweet jalapenos that are popular.

Cooking Classes

Another huge change with the smaller store is that Gourmet Gallery can no longer do its cooking classes on-site because of the space required for the kitchen equipment. Having no classes was a big concern for many of their longtime customers, she said.

But thankfully, Karyn said, they have been able to continue the classes, at Young Chefs Academy’s corporate training facility at 7728 Central Park Drive.

“We really appreciate them letting us have the classes there,” Karyn said.

Check Gourmet Gallery’s website for the class schedule.

Interior Look

Rachel in particular has been focused on creating the store’s look at its new location.

“Rachel has been the brainchild behind making this look so warm and comfortable,” she said.

Because the store is considerably smaller than the previous location, Rachel said they chose light colors for the walls to make the space feel bigger.

But she said the layout of the store remains a work in progress. She is constantly rearranging items for the best presentation and even to encourage repeat customers to explore other areas instead of just going to the spot they found their purchase the last time.

“We want customers to work their way all through the store,” she said.

Both are continually seeking new and different products that would fit well in the store. They will continue to carry top-of-the-line cookware such as Le Creuset and Nordic Ware, because those of personal favorites.

“We know our products better than anyone,” Karyn said. “We’re not going to put something in that we haven’t tested.”

Experience Matters

It’s important they remain a cooking resource for people, she said, and their experience means they offer advice to specific questions, which the big-box stores can’t do.

That experience also serves them well in creating gift baskets, Karyn said.

“We love to put together fun corporate gift baskets,” she said.

She appreciates the loyal following from eight years in Ridgewood Village and many of those customers have come to the new site. But she’s also excited about the new faces stopping by downtown.

Although Gourmet Gallery’s location may be new, Karyn said the commitment to providing the best service for customers hasn’t changed since it opened on Aug. 15, 2008, which they timed to coincide with the birthdate of famed TV chef Julia Child.

“We’re the same people,” Karyn said, “We’re just in a different place.”

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Gourmet Gallery

502 B Austin Ave.

254-339-1198

Tue-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sat, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Editor for Waco Today magazine and community editor at the Waco Tribune-Herald