It’s prime grilling season, so it’s no surprise that the sales counter at the Grill Works in Marion is busy. Customers flow in and out of the store to buy wood pellets for their grills, or sauces and rubs for the meat they’re going to prepare.
Lisa Gilliat works behind the counter, greeting each guest and asking about what’s for dinner. She owns the store with her husband, Brian, who often works outside the store installing grills at customers’ homes.
The Gilliatts opened the Grill Works nine summers ago and are surprised at the way the business has blossomed over the years.
“When we first opened, we could have a Saturday where not one person would come into the store,” Lisa said. “But now on Saturdays we can barely keep up. And if it is raining or snowing we are busier than when it is nice out.
“Grilling and smoking is more than just cooking. It is a passion that people are doing year-round. And this is a fun business because our customers are just so excited about what they are making.”
Brian has a background in servicing gas grills that were installed years ago in backyards by the gas company. So when the company that supplied the parts for those gas grill repairs was put up for sale by the longtime, Chicago-based owners, the Gilliatts bought it and move it to Marion.
“We thought we’d be a distributor for the parts and then decided to just open the store and see what would happen,” Lisa said.
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“We didn’t have any idea what we were doing when we opened our doors. And now we are practically out of room. Our products are stacked floor to ceiling.”
Along with servicing gas grills — Lisa noted they can order parts for any grill even if they don’t sell that make or model — the Gilliatts now also sell a variety of products, from gas grills and wood pellet grills — the Green Mountain Wood Pellet Grill is a model they’ve sold from day one and they can barely keep them in stock — and smokers, to accessories, rubs and sauces.
Slicing knives, butcher paper for prepping meat and high-tech thermometers are available.
“I said that if we were going to open a store, we’d need to have fun stuff, too,” Lisa recalled, noting she’s in charge of the ordering and keeping track of inventory. “The rubs and sauces are the portion of the business that has really taken off in the last couple of years.”
Gilliat said a big factor that sets them apart from other stores is their insistence on customers sampling some of the more than 300 rubs and sauces they sell.
“We want people to taste it before they get it home,” she said.
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At a glance
l Owners: Lisa and Brian Gilliatt
l Title: Owners
l Business: The Grill Works
l Address: 763 Eighth Ave., Marion
l Phone: (319) 395-7118
l Website: thegrillworks.net