CEDAR RAPIDS — Steven Prochaska’s new business, Bohemian Grocer, is “filling in the blanks” at NewBo City Market.
Prochaska opened his first business, the Sausage Foundry, at NewBo Market in 2015. Over the past three years as a permanent vendor there, he’s seen other vendors come and go, sometimes leaving holes in the market’s offerings upon their departure.
“I’ve heard over the last few years after the produce vendor left that there’s no opportunity to get fresh produce, except during the farmers market,” Prochaska offered as an example.
He said he’s also heard customers lament that things such as local dairy, jams and jellies are not available at the marketplace on a consistent basis.
When That One Cupcake Place exited the market in August to focus on its Hiawatha location, Prochaska saw a way to use the vacant stall, across the aisle from the Sausage Foundry, to fill some of those holes.
Although Prochaska opened the Sausage Foundry without outside funding, establishing a grocery store required investment in coolers, freezers, shelving and inventory. With help from the Small Business Association, he sought and obtained a small business loan through the Eastern Central Iowa Council of Governments and Cedar Rapids Main Street.
Bohemian Grocer’s proximity to the Sausage Foundry allows Prochaska’s two businesses, along with Big Boy Meats, which shares space with the Sausage Foundry, to use a single point of sale.
But Prochaska said he wants the new business, which he calls “BoGro” for short, to have a separate brand identity.
“It has a different, yet complementary, focus,” he said about the new venture. “I want people who live and work in the area know they can come here and get everything they need to make a meal.”
BoGro’s offerings are almost 95 percent Iowa produced or distributed. The store offers seasonal produce from local grocers, locally produced dairy products and an array of Iowa-made products from sauerkraut and kimchi to Bloody Mary mix.
Prochaska also is reprising some favorites from former marketplace vendors, including Zaza’s pasta, Butter Me Up peanut butter and the Frontier bulk herbs and tea display.
“I’m not going to carry products that step on other people’s toes,” he said. “I’m rounding out market accessibility.”
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At a Glance
l Owner: Steven Prochaska
l Business: Bohemian Grocer
l Address: 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
l Phone: (319) 202-1631
l Facebook: facebook.com/bohemiangrocer