Shelley and Tim Doyen have small business in their blood. Their parents, on both sides, ran independent businesses. Her family farmed and Tim’s had a resort. So, when they came to Manistee, they were on the hunt for a business to call their own. They looked at several existing operations, but in the end, launched a venture that quickly became one of the most successful retail spots on River Street – The Ideal Kitchen.
The idea of starting a kitchen store revealed itself gradually. Tim was campaigning for a bait and tackle shop. However, Shelley’s passion for cooking won out. In 2005, they were watching a show on the Food Network, when a feature on an annual housewares show came on. This was the lightbulb moment for both of them which led to a trip to Chicago to seek suppliers. Little by little and painstakingly, the plan developed.
Shelley credits a series of helpful ‘guru’s for getting them on the right track. Local experts happily shared their knowledge with them. The Doyens approached the “SCORE” organization through the Manistee Chamber of Commerce. There they met By Lyon, who helped them develop a business plan, and Dave Carlson who stepped in to help them find the perfect location. They also had the advice of local businessman, Dan Bathrick from Snyder’s Shoes. It was Dan who pushed Shelley to an opening date when she was hesitating – because she wanted to get everything perfect first. “Just open the doors!” he told her. And she did. But, she also continues to perfect the place. The store is now bursting with beautiful and clever ideas for the well equipped kitchen. Perfect indeed!
Working in cooperation with others seems to be central to the success of The Ideal Kitchen and other shops downtown. River Street businesses try not to exactly duplicate merchandise and happily direct customers to each other, if they don’t have what they’re looking for. As Shelley puts it, “We [Manistee’s business district] are just too small. We need to work together.” And they do, with special events, festivals, and sales. Visitors to town frequently comment about the friendly and welcoming downtown and The Ideal Kitchen is a big part of that. Shelley also hosts cooking demonstrations in a cooperative venture with Dannette Hoffman at the Iron Works Cafe. If you are interested, the best way to sign up is on The Ideal Kitchen’s Facebook page.
Shoppers come to The Ideal Kitchen from all over to browse the extensive collection of high quality kitchen equipments and gadgets. Aisles and displays are bursting with well respected brands from Cuisinart, KitchenAid, and All-Clad to Emile Henry, Kuhn Rikon and Polish Pottery. The colorful displays are an absolute feast for the eyes. All the beautiful linens from France and India are especially fun to browse. Whether you need a table cloth, kitchen towels, or a fashionable apron, they are all here.
Kitchen gadgets and cookware are at the heart of The Ideal Kitchen. So many clever and well designed options are available. Even if you believe you have everything you need, I guarantee you will find helpful additions to your collection.
Every good cook knows that presentation is half the game for a perfect dinner party. The Ideal kitchen knows that too and provides a wide selection of serving dishes. Most are so pretty, you won’t want to confine them to a cupboard.
The Ideal Kitchen also takes care of the cook. In the front of the store is an extensive collection of U.S. made Caldrea soaps and lotions. The quality is constantly wonderful, so the only choice you need to make is which gorgeous fragrance you’d prefer.
Beautiful barware is a necessity for fine dining and entertaining. Everything is sparkling and ready to attend a future gathering of friends and family.
Emile Henry cookware and serving ware is a personal favorite of mine. Thanks to The Ideal Kitchen, I am creating quite a collection. That’s another great feature of fine brands like this. You can collect the pieces gradually over time.
The next time you visit downtown Manistee, be sure to stroll down to the west end and visit Shelley at The Ideal Kitchen. Her love of cooking, her store, and Manistee in general is infectious. Even if you only dabble in the culinary arts, you can’t help but get inspired by all that is possible here. And if you have a passion for cooking, like Shelley, you will have found Heaven.