Two local businesses, one currently open and one just weeks away from opening, will have their renovation efforts assisted with $25,000 Small Business Forgivable Loans (SBFLs) provided through the City of Muscatine Department of Community Development (the City).
Skinny’s Barbeque will open in the Pearl Plaza at 208 West 2nd Street in the near future, and Thompson Trucking, Inc. recently moved from their location on Houser Street to the former Orscheln Farm and Home store at 1607 Grandview Avenue. Both will use SBFL proceeds to continue renovations to both properties.
After eight years of working for his father at Boonies on the Avenue (Boonies), Cord Kleist decided it was time to make his own mark on the restaurant industry in Muscatine with the establishment of Skinny’s Barbeque, a dream he has worked on for the last several years. “Skinny’s Barbeque will provide barbeque food, soups, salads, and daily specials,” City Planner Lindsay Whitson, said. “The menu will be a chalkboard menu, meaning that it will consistently change. Skinny’s Barbeque is projected to attract a large lunch crowd, local business gatherings, family-size takeout orders, and offer catering throughout the region.”
Kleist has worked at Boonies ever since his father and mother (Mike and Teresa) established it eight years ago. “I had this idea about barbeque and talked about it with my father,” Kleist said. “He listened, told me to do my investigating, and bring him a business plan.”
Kleist admitted that he did not realize how much work investigating and drafting a business plan took, but in the end, determined that opening a restaurant was something that he wanted to do on his own. “I told my dad that I wanted to do this on my own and he gave me his full support,” Kleist said. “It took a trip to the south to taste different barbeque that convinced my wife, however.”
Work on the ground floor restaurant inside Pearl Plaza has gone on at a fever pace for the last several months and the remodeling has taken shape. Kleist believes he still has four or five weeks before opening the restaurant but anxiously awaits opening the doors to customers. “I have one more week at ‘Boonies’ and then it is all about ‘Skinny’s,” Kleist said. “I hope to set an opening date then.”
Skinny’s Barbeque will utilize the SBFL funds to renovate the building with permanent fixtures and code compliant updates.
Thompson Trucking Inc.
“Thompson Trucking, Inc. [TTI] is primarily a supplier of trucking services,” Whitson said. “They are a family owned business that has been in operation in the City of Muscatine since the 1950s. They have outgrown their original property and have relocated and expanded their business to 1607 Grandview Avenue.”
Judy Eichelberger, president of TTI elaborated, “the Houser Street property has been great, but we really needed more space, especially indoor space to work on the trucks and for storage. Driving by the Orscheln site, we could not help but notice how much space there was for the outside lot. And the building is big enough to accommodate our needs as well.”
Renovations to the building continues for the company, which moved into their new home last June. “It is a work in progress and the ceiling is a little low for some of our needs, but that can be addressed in the future,” Eichelberger said.
Eichelberger also noted that the move will help facilitate continued expansion of the company both in terms of business opportunities and in personnel.
TTI operations include contracting haul flatbed, van, bulk, and liquid commodities. They offer excavation of borrow sites and handle contracts that vary from hundreds of thousands of yards of material delivered to hot shot deliveries of small pickup loads. They offer their service regionally in Iowa and surrounding states, but occasionally get contracts much further out. The new and much bigger space will allow TTI to expand into additional areas, including fleet repair and tire services, tire and parts sales, as well as increasing their overall number of employees. Their current location not only provides ample space to service their trucks but for truck and tire repair to outside customers as well.