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By Deirdre Ryan, Marion Times | August 13th, 2015 |
What began as an enjoyable trip to a wine bar in Galena, Illinois, has evolved into a thriving and expanding business in the Uptown Marion district … literally.
Ramsey’s Metro Market, located at 1120 7th Avenue in Marion, opened its doors on May 19, 2011. This was the very first time owners Conrad and LuAnn Ramsey had ever owned their own business, and the only restaurant experience between the two of them was that they worked at an A &W in high school.
According to Conrad, he suggested for years to LuAnn that they should have their own venue. Finally, in 2010, she agreed. The Ramsey’s have always loved to travel, and after seeing some of the wine bars in Galena, they envisioned the same type of venue for Marion.
“We knew this was a big enough region to support it,” commented Conrad.
After the Ramseys decided to open up their dream wine and beer bar, plans had to be made. Conrad immediately began working on business plans and meeting with the City of Marion and the Chamber of Commerce.
“We have a progressive city council and city manager who want to make Marion a destination city,” said Conrad.
Upon its opening, Ramsey’s Metro Market also added a food menu, to comply with the City of Marion’s ordinances. This would hopefully bring in even more business and a larger customer base for the establishment.
Conrad and LuAnn brought in their son Josh, who had about 15 years’ restaurant experience under his belt. Josh was also a key player in the initial business plan. Danielle Bunting joined the Ramsey’s team, who, along with Josh, is in charge of the day-to-day operations.
This duo continues to develop the exclusive Ramseys menu, and they enjoy researching and creating new options for the restaurant’s daily specials.
As soon as Ramsey’s Metro Market opened to the public in 2011, it certainly became a hit with local residents, as well as visitors to the Marion community.
“What we have here is an adult social environment,” said Conrad.
Today, Ramsey’s Metro Market contains over 140 labels of wine and about 60 craft beers to choose from. There are wine racks throughout the entire establishment – visitors have a vast selection. The success of the business has really urged the Ramsey’s to put together dishes that favor their array of alcohol options.
“You should have food that compliments the wine and beer,” noted Conrad. “We’re not just a unique wine and beer bar, though … we love our customers; they become a part of our family.”
Besides an ample collection of wines and beers, and delightful daily food specials, Ramsey’s Metro Market offers quite a bit more… they do some small caterings, all of their sauerkraut is made in-house, they host open-mic nights every Tuesday, there is live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, they were one of the first Blue Zones restaurants in the region and they enjoy taking part in a variety of community events.
Recently, along with the help of the Marion community and the City of Marion, Conrad and LuAnn Ramsey decided to expand their booming business. Due to their continued success, increasing customer base and limited space within their building, the couple felt this was something very necessary.
“Our needs have grown; we can’t have continued growth without more space … our customers have wanted this for two years now,” commented Conrad. “This expansion will bring more of the community to Uptown Marion; it will allow more of the customers to frequent our establishment. We will be able to pursue more; we can be more of a presence – it’s ownership of what we are doing.”
After the Community Baptist Church moved out of the store-front next to Ramsey’s Metro Market, Conrad and LuAnn purchased this additional property, plus their existing location, as they had just been leasing before.
This adjoining building will allow Ramsey’s to increase their occupancy from 49 to 99. There will be a stage towards the back of the new addition to host live music events, the bar will be lengthened out into an L-shape and the kitchen area will extend as well.
Conrad noted this building expansion will also allow them to host larger parties, serve the needs of their customers better and possibly allow for a larger catering service.
To complete the building and expansion of Ramsey’s Metro Market, Conrad and LuAnn are relying on local Marion businesses, friends and Conrad himself is even helping with some of the additional work. The name itself will also be updated from Ramsey’s Metro Market to Ramsey’s Wine Bistro.
“We hope to be open with the other side by mid-September of this year,” noted Conrad. “It’s like with everything; there are risks involved but we have high hopes … there are a lot of blessings in life … this is kind of a blessing.”