NORTHWOODS - It seems more all-natural and specialty food stores are popping up around the Northwoods. Antigo and Three Lakes welcomed new all-natural and specialty food stores this year. And last week, Eagle River welcomed one, as well.
"We were painstaking about finding things that you cannot find at other shops here in the Eagle River area," said Homeward Bound Specialty Foods owner Patti Katz Black. She and her husband, Dave, opened their Eagle River store last week.
"The foodie explosion's been around a long time but the market for people that are looking for health needs and a little broader choice in a specialty market, the time had come," Katz Black explained.
The time had come for the Blacks to open a store like the ones they enjoyed visiting during their travels. Homeward Bound offers ethnic and gluten-free foods, specialty sauces, imported waters and teas and Wisconsin cheese. They're also offering freshly made grab and go meals, sides, dressings and sauces by Dave who is a chef.
"We're trying to fill a niche that secretly lives everywhere," said Katz Black. "People get bored and are looking for something different."
That niche has become larger since The Country Seed opened its doors 29 years ago in Rhinelander. The store's manager, Cynde Goll, has seen interest grow since she started 7 years ago.
"The gluten-free products, the dairy-free, soy-free those type of things, there was not as many people shopping for it as I can tell that there are now," Goll said.
Stores like The Country Seed and Homeward Bound aren't alone. Two all-natural food stores, Wild Berry Market in Minocqua and Golden Harvest in Rhinelander, moved to larger locations this year to keep up with demand. There are about a dozen all-natural and specialty food stores in the area stretching from Merrill to Minocqua, over to Eagle River, down to Antigo.
The Country Seed's manager thinks people care more about what they eat than they did a few years ago.
"People are more aware of what they're putting in their bodies," explained Goll. "They're more conscious of the things that are in our foods nowadays and what they're consuming and it's easier to go to a specialty store and know you don't have to do as much label-reading and it's more convenient to find what you're looking for."
The Homeward Bound owners hope to provide that convenience to their customers. Katz Black says they're "trying to make eating enjoyable, healthy and easy, and affordable."
MARATHON COUNTY - The suspect in a Wisconsin shooting spree that left four people dead has been identified, and court records show one of the victims was his wife's divorce lawyer.
A person close to the investigation identified the suspect Friday as 45-year old Nengmy Vang. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak ahead of authorities officially identifying Vang.
WAUSAU AREA - Organizations in the greater Wausau area set up funds remembering and honoring the victims of Wednesday's shootings.
A Marathon Savings Bank fund will support the families of the two bank employees shot. Dianne Look had worked at Marathon Savings Bank for almost 19 years, and Karen Barclay had been there for more than six years.
WASHINGTON - UPDATE: 3-24-17, 4:00pm: Ryan bemoans collapse of health care bill:
Speaker Paul Ryan says the collapse of the House Republican health care bill means former President Barack Obama's health care law will be around for the foreseeable future.
The Wisconsin Republican addressed reporters minutes after GOP leaders abruptly shelved the legislation, averted likely defeat for the bill. But it still dealt a damaging setback to President Donald Trump, Ryan and an entire party that has long said it wants to annul Obama's statute.
ST. GERMAIN - A school bus doesn't feature a lot of amenities. Seats, windows, and that's about it. But a company out of St. Germain thinks buses, and other big vehicles, make the perfect kitchens.
Caged Crow Fabrication is owned by Josh Romaker. He moved to the Northwoods about three years ago. Around the same time a woman in Madison approached him to help refurbish an old camper. He decided to make it into a food truck instead.
"We took on the challenge and that first build was featured on US Today and some magazines and our phone just started ringing. We've got them in Denver, Salt Lake City, New Jersey," said Romaker.
That was just the beginning for Romaker's company, Caged Crow Fabrication in St. Germain. They now specialize in food trucks of all kinds.
"If a customer wants a food truck that looks like a barn or a steam train or a school bus conversion, we really stick to the unique food truck builds," said Romaker.
The 1982 bus that Caged Crow Fabrication is working on now will be complete in a little over a month. The team made up of just a few workers has one rule- they never build the same thing twice. And they take their time.
"We have a sign on the wall here that says 'quality over quantity'. I think our reputation right now is really based on the attention to detail and I think we want to keep that up," said Romaker.
If you're interested in checking out more work from Caged Crow Fabrication, follow the link below.
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