Mary Anne Kowalski and her daughter Kris Kowalski Christiansen will only put their name on something they’re proud of. They have every right to take pride in Kowalski’s itself, as they have spent nearly four decades turning it from a languishing location in St. Paul into eleven of the finest grocery stores in the Twin Cities area – one of which, Mary Anne and Kris are proud to say, is in Eden Prairie.
But the Kowalskis take their business even more personally than that. They refuse to stock one carrot, loaf of bread, or can of tomatoes that they wouldn’t buy themselves. Indeed, their Signature Products, which comprise everything from chocolate cake to smoked bacon, all say “Kowalski’s” right on their labels.
This is part of the beauty of Kowalski’s. The owners are dedicated to keeping their name synonymous with great quality.
“Quality is without a doubt the thing we’re most proud of,” said Rachael Perron, culinary and branding director for Kowalski’s. “The amount of time we spend in meetings talking about what we bring into our store is unheard of at other retailers. You wouldn’t find many products on our shelves that we haven’t recently taste tested. I know that sounds like fun work, and it really can be when we’re judging chocolate. Spending several hours exclusively on ketchup, on the other hand – not quite as much.
“We take things a step further with our Signature Line products. These have to be good enough to impress any foodie, so we work closely with our chefs as they develop our store’s proprietary recipes. That way we can make certain every ingredient is clean, and sourced as often as possible from a local producer. We spend a lot of time on the road auditing nearby farms, just so we can know exactly where our foods are coming from. It’s the only way to ensure everything we offer is of the highest quality. Essentially, if we wouldn’t serve it to our own houseguests, it has no business at Kowalski’s.
“Our signature ham exemplifies that philosophy. It is uncured, naturally raised without growth promotants or antibiotics, free of nitrates and nitrites, gluten free – and, most importantly, delicious. The balance of sweet, salty and smoky is so perfect that it often wins over people who had thought they just didn’t like ham.
“There is just as much at stake with turkey, another classic holiday food. That’s why we’re proudly partnered with Ferndale Market, a third generation free range turkey farm only 45 minutes southeast of town. Aside from a few food co-ops, we’re the only store in Eden Prairie where you can get a local, naturally raised turkey. And if your family prefers roast beef, they will love our exclusive Akaushi beef, a premium brand of Kobe-style beef typically only available at high-end steakhouses.
“But no food is so crucial to family get-togethers as dessert. I laugh when I tell people how much time we spend just fine-tuning our pumpkin pie crust. Each and every cookie, from spritz to chocolate chip, is made from scratch in our bakery. Our baked goods haven’t got quite the same shelf life as other retailers’, but we don’t use preservatives at home, so we don’t use them at Kowalski’s either.
“We’re happy to admit when another local vendor is able to make something even more exceptional than we can. It’s also exciting to partner with nearby small businesses like Salsa Lisa, Velvet Bees Honey Butter, Bistro Meringues, and Patti’s Roasted Nuts to help them grow. It wasn’t very long ago that Mary Anne and Kris were first starting out, and they’re eager to give the same kind of community support that they owe their success to.”
Kowalski’s is open 6am to 10pm everyday at 16500 West 78th Street in Eden Prairie. You may also order home delivery or curbside pickup online at kowalskis.com.