Lu Ann and I celebrated 37 years of marriage in 2010, now on October 13, 2017 it will be 44 years. During the first 37 years, I had often suggested opening different businesses… such as a video rental store, a fitness gym, and others along life’s road. Lu Ann always said “No” She’d say, “If we are going to open a business, it will be a Cabana bar on the beach in the Caribbean!”
Well, I’m a persistent guy, and during a day of fun in Galena, IL, I brought to light another potential business opportunity. After the day’s shopping, we found ourselves at Jamie’s Wine Parlor enjoying a relaxing glass of wine. The glass became a bottle and some fine conversation. As we sat there looking around, I suggested to Lu Ann that WE open a wine and beer bar in Marion, and noting the meat & cheese store across the street, I decided the pairing would be excellent! She agreed it would be a unique addition to the Marion, Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, Robins and the Eastern Iowa region, and though she had said “No” in the past, this time she suggested I put together a business plan to see if it was feasible.
Well, after a little over a year for researching, planning, securing appropriate approvals and getting buy in from our oldest son, Josh to manage the store while we kept our day jobs, we landed on the previous site of the Flat Tire Café for the business. We realized this was the perfect setting to for a wine and beer bar, complete with book shelves to provide a wonderful display of 170 different wines. It also had a small non conventional kitchen that would allow more than just meat and cheese trays to enjoy with the wine and beer. Josh took his 15 years experience working in kitchens and bars, and fueled with his childhood interest in creating and cooking great meals, he was tasked with creating a menu for the store, his sister Lindsay suggesting cheese sandwiches would pair well with wine and beer. Sooo…
Ramsey’s opened to the public on May 19, 2011, the day before the annual Marion Arts Festival.
Our Panini, Grilled Cheese, Sub Sandwich and salad menu, offers healthy and popular choosings that our customers enjoy. Combined with Josh and Danielle’s creative daily specials, we continue to provide great standards with nice variety.
We found out within the first year that there are many talented local music performers looking for a place to share their passions and provide musical performances to the community. So, we added Open Mic night on Tuesday nights and live music now on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It is amazing how often we are thanked for giving musicians a stage to perform on. (A blessing to the Ramsey family because I, Conrad, have no musical talent, but I do like to listen.)
Our fantastic staff is considered family. Jacob, Danielle, Tony, Jim, Christa, Angie, Kayliegh, Carla and our daughter, Lindsay all are heaven sent to the store providing inspiration, creativity, smiles, and laughter to our menu and our customers each and every day. We are truly blessed to have them work for us. As Christa has told me in the past, she loves working for us…not just because Conrad likes to give hugs to customers and workers when they come and leave, but because the Ramsey’s care a lot for everyone that they meet!
The store had occupancy of 40. Lu Ann and I have asked ourselves many times over the first four years: “Why did we make our lives busier with full time day jobs and then the extra work of owning a family business?” What we have realized is that we do it because of the blessings the store brings to us through the many friendships we developed with our customers. We have become a community family and it was that family that encouraged us to expand our presence. By purchasing the whole building, which included the space a church moved out of next door in August 2015 and opening the wall to the other side of the building on October 30, 2015, we more than doubled our size and occupancy (to 97). The love, warmth and care we share and receive from the people we have met since opening the store has brought great joy to the Ramsey family’s lives.
As we are loved by God, we are expected to love God’s people. So stop in, get to know the family, enjoy wine, beer, music, and great conversation. We look forward to meeting you!