Greek restaurant to take place of Slow Pokes

Owner of Grafton health food store retires, sells building to customers who plan street food eatery
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

After 16 years of providing gluten-free, vegan and sustainable food options, Grafton’s Slow Pokes Local Food has closed its doors.

Ready for retirement, owner Kathleen McGlone has sold her store at 1229 12th Ave. to a couple who plan to convert the space into a Greek street food restaurant featuring gyros, kebabs and possibly homemade yogurt.

One of the new owners, a former customer of McGlone, is gluten intolerant and is working on creating a sourdough pita for the future restaurant.

“It’ll be really nice to go eat somewhere where I’m not responsible for the meals,” McGlone said.

While the closure may come as a shock to many who frequent the shop for food that fits comfortably into their dietary restrictions, McGlone hopes her legacy will carry on in some aspects.

McGlone said she has sold some of her equipment, such as a display case and freezer, to the DreamPort Harvest Market, an indoor market that allows local organic farmers to sell their goods directly to consumers in Port Washington.

She added that many of the farmers she worked with at Slow Pokes also sell items at DreamPort Harvest Market so many Slow Poke staples will still be available.

McGlone said the Port market is a new  model that she hopes allows farmers to curtail fees while still providing local, sustainable food to their communities.

Another aspect of Slow Pokes McGlone said she hopes carries on is her kefir production operation.

Slow Pokes has been producing the fermented milk drink since 2009 and stocks it at more than a dozen businesses in southeastern Wisconsin.

While still working on some batches, McGlone said, her kefir production is slowing and that she hopes to find a larger company to take over production.

She said that would allow the operation to be more resilient in the face of supply chain shortages that have caused issues for Slow Pokes in recent years.

“They hit the smallest producers hardest and first,” McGlone said.

Supply chain issues caused by the pandemic have caused large delays in jars, labels and coconut milk, one of kefir’s main ingredients.

McGlone said the coconut milk delay caused some batches of kefir to ferment longer than normal — a factor that affected the texture of the cream, not the quality.

Despite assurances that the kefir was still good, McGlone said the thicker texture made some customers skeptical and resulted in thousands of dollars worth of waste.

“A bigger name would have much more clout and they could buy container loads at a time,” she said.

Over the years, McGlone said Slow Pokes had a strong and loyal customer base, particularly of people with allergies or other dietary restrictions.

“It’s hard to be confident about going into a place where you can get really sick if you get the wrong ingredient, and I don’t think anybody ever worried about that when coming to us,” she said.

While she will miss the customers, McGlone said she is looking forward to visiting family and friends out of state she’s had trouble spending time with while operating Slow Pokes.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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