Cooks of Crocus Hill is expanding, eastward.
In a deal that was finalized Wednesday, the popular culinary store and school -- which operates locations on St. Paul's Grand Avenue and at 50th and France in Edina -- is taking over its like-minded competitor, the Chef's Gallery, the 13-year-old kitchen store and school located in the Grand Garage building on Stillwater's Main Street.
Chef's Gallery will be renamed Cooks of Crocus Hill. It will remain closed for about a week -- although classes will continue as scheduled -- while Cooks of Crocus Hill owners and spouses Karl Benson and Marie Dwyer take stock of the store's inventory.
"We're going to spend the next few months trying to understand what works there and why," said Benson. "We're not going to say, 'This works on Grand Avenue' and then slam it in there. We're going to capitalize on their success and build on it."
Cooks of Crocus Hill was founded in St. Paul in 1973. Benson has been a partner for 15 years, and he and Dwyer have owned the business outright for nearly four years. They purchased the Chef's Gallery from the estate of founder Laura Bachman, who died in November 2010. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
As for the couple's attraction to Stillwater, "It's our hometown," said Benson. "We live in Marine [on St. Croix] and our kids go to school in Stillwater. We're looking forward to being a part of the vitality that's happening on Main Street."