Worth the wait: Shupes finally move farm-to-table restaurant concept across town

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Customers dine in and take out food from Thyme Station Sandwich Bar on the Crossing campus at 48th and Maine in Quincy.

QUINCY — It took more than a year to get the green light, but Thyme Square Bakery & Cafe has finally expanded.

Owners Erica and Cory Shupe tried three times during 2020 to open the Thyme Station Sandwich Bar, but the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted them each time. They finally opened their doors for good in early spring, and the restaurant has been open for nearly two months at The Crossing campus at 48th and Maine.

“We’re planners. We’re people who look months out in advance, and we’re constantly working towards future goals,” Erica said. “That was really, really difficult to do last year, because you had no idea when (the pandemic) was gonna let up or when the state would let up on some of the restrictions. It was very stressful in terms of making sure that we were keeping our staff safe, ourselves safe, our customers safe, yet still make enough money to stay afloat.”

The Crossing comes calling

The Shupes had considered adding a patio to Thyme Square at 615 Hampshire. Their plans changed in August 2019 when Kory Hollensteiner, a campus pastor at the Crossing approached them about plans to convert part of the former community college building into a community center.

“We wanted to have a place for people to feel comfortable to come to the church, even though it wasn’t necessarily connected to the church, and we wanted to provide a great dining experience,” Hollensteiner said. “Our whole goal here is for the church to be community minded. We have a play place, we have a preschool, and we have a newly renovated gym that we’re trying to get up and running. We want people to come hang out.

“We have no knowledge on how to run any type of restaurant business. As a staff, we brainstormed and came up with Thyme Square. If we gave them the space to do it, and we did a little bit of renovation, and if they’d be willing to take a chance to open up a second location on this side of town, well, that would be the best case scenario.”

The Shupes were hesitant at first but eventually agreed.

“They made it very easy for us to open a second location, and they were willing to partner with us on a lot of the costs,” Erica said. “They made it very difficult to say no.”

However, the pandemic made it difficult to start.

“(The Crossing) made it very easy for us to open a second location, and they were willing to partner with us on a lot of the costs. They made it very difficult to say no.”

— Erica Shupe, co-owner of the Thyme Station Sandwich Bar on the Crossing campus at 48th and Maine

Grand opening delayed … and again … and again

Thyme Station was set to open April 7, 2020. The Shupes learned on March 15, 2020, they had 24 hours to shut down because of pandemic restrictions.

“At the time, we didn’t know how serious it was,” Erica said. “I don’t think anybody at the time expected this to go on for months and months.”

The Shupes considered opening curbside-only service in May 2020, but they decided against it.

“You’ve got a brand new restaurant, and that’s not how you want to introduce it to the public,” Erica said. “We wanted to wait until we could do a full grand opening.”

Thyme Square was closed for 10 weeks in the spring, adding further complication. 

Plans called for an August 1 opening for Thyme Station, but Erica said Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore and representatives from the Adams County Health Department called to wait until school started. The opening then was pushed back to October 1.

“We were open for eight days,” Erica said. “Then the governor (J.B. Pritzker) shut us back down.”

Curbside service was offered with a restricted menu. Most of their customers were either working at the Crossing or the Blessing Hospital Diagnostic and Imaging Center.

A grand opening for the public finally was celebrated on April 4. It was three days shy of what originally was planned for their one-year anniversary.

“People have been really receptive,” Erica said.

Menu slightly different than Thyme Square

The farm-to-table model, which allows people to eat community-grown food, has made Thyme Square popular downtown. However, the menu was modified for the sandwich bar. Items taking more than seven minutes to prepare, such as a hamburger or fish, are not included at the 48th Street location.

The sandwich bar instead focuses on quick, convenient ways to provide relatively inexpensive whole foods. The menu includes made-from scratch panini-style sandwiches on sourdough or focaccia bread, soups and salads, and a breakfast line. The menu also changes as the seasons change.

“In the summer, you want to eat lighter. You’re kind of feeling more of those fruits and vegetables that are in season,” Erica said. “In the wintertime, you’re wanting things that are a little heartier, the eggs, the meats, those types of things. The weather and the environment we live in actually help trigger different things in your brain as to what you’re going to crave.”

The Shupes are glad to have overcome the struggles of 2020.

“We’re not the type (of people who are) going to sit and moan and groan about how we were dealt a bad hand this past year,” Erica said. “No, this isn’t how we wanted this all to happen, but complaining about it doesn’t accomplish anything. We spent a lot of time coming up with a business plan and menus and marketing ideas, and then we kind of had to redo all of that. 

“We’re at a point now that we’re happy with the momentum and where we’re going. This was a good move, and it will be a good move. It was just a difficult year to get there.”

Thyme Station Sandwich Bar is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. 

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