Although Kathleen and Doug Grant retired from their respective jobs last year, they weren’t ready to spend their time sitting on rocking chairs and watching the world go by. Kathleen had always known how good Doug’s cooking was, but watching the reaction of others when she brought his corn chowder to a Shelburne Community School function gave them the spark they needed to try something new. Last year, the pair launched their catering company, Soupie Sales. The name is a reference to a 1960s slapstick comedian named Soupy Sales.
Two years ago, Kathleen retired after a 27-year career teaching art at Shelburne Community School. At the same time, Doug retired from his position as the head chef of the Lake Mansfield Trout Club.
“I had been on him for a couple of years, suggesting we do this on the side,” Kathleen recalled. “We started by reaching out to friends and through Facebook and email.”
As the business became more formal, Kathleen’s son created a website and the couple hired a professional to design a logo. Kathleen does all the promotion while Doug is in charge of the kitchen.
Doug is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute.
“I used to think about opening a restaurant,” he said, “but this is the next best thing.”
Every week, Kathleen sends out an email telling customers which soups will be available. Doug has a steady roster of favorites but he also likes to tinker with the menu and add new items. Last summer was so warm that he came up with a variety of gazpacho flavors including peach and watermelon as well as a strawberry yogurt soup. Chicken noodle is probably the most popular offering and butternut bisque is a big seller in the fall.
Last summer, the couple sold their soup at the Shelburne Farmers’ Market and they will do so again this summer. Otherwise, people place orders online and then pick up their soup between 3 and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The couple has also catered a few events like church luncheons and bridal showers and they are open to doing more of that work. Kathleen is willing deliver large orders for a small fee.
Although the main item on the menu is still soup, Doug is experimenting with full meals including meatloaf with oven-roasted potatoes and French beans with feta cheese, chicken marsala with twice-baked potatoes, and eggplant parmigiana with Caesar salad with the dressing made from scratch.
Now 60 years old, Kathleen has lived in Shelburne for two decades. Doug moved in with her when they married five years ago. In her spare time, Kathleen gives private art lessons and practices her own art: acrylics, watercolors and mixed media. Her work is currently being displayed at Shelburne Bagels and will soon be at the State Attorney’s office. She favors bright and colorful landscapes, botanicals and florals. The 57-year-old Doug is spending some quality retirement time with the couple’s new puppy and looking forward to starting the garden where some of his cooking ingredients will be grown.
Although his retirement isn’t exactly restful, Doug is pleased with how things have turned out. “I’m very much enjoying this,” he said. “I like to please people.”
Neither Kathleen nor Doug wants to hire any additional help but they are open to expanding their business if there is demand for that.
“We’ll worry about that when it comes up,” Doug said.