When Tim Moore and Ellen Leaf-Moore decided to move Fezziwig’s Marketplace from Lebanon, they had two requirements: more space and another historic downtown location.
“We were outgrowing the space and we looked and looked and looked,” said Tim as Ellen sat beside him under a shady umbrella table. “What we wanted was what we ended up with.”
That was a two-story 1894 building at 225 W. First St. in O’Fallon that included two very cool extras: a large private courtyard and a 1904 carriage house.
The couple, who still live in Lebanon, opened the new location for the gourmet food and tea emporium on July 9. The new store, 5 miles away from the Lebanon location, took them from 1,400 square of retail space to more than 3,000.
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Fezziwig’s began in 2007 as a gourmet food shop. Tim had more than 30 years experience in sales, marketing, advertising and purchasing and Ellen had been a general manager for Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma and had management experience in retail fashion.
Now a certified tea educator, she teaches the subject to her customers. Much of the pair’s business revolves around premium loose-leaf tea, their Fezziwig’s brand of balsamic vinegars and oils, and prepackaged gourmet food.
“Those three are the biggest part of our business,” said Ellen.
The biggest change with the move was space to create what they call the Culinary Experience Room. The combination classroom/kitchen/event area can be closed off from the shop by French doors. On a recent weeknight, a long wood trestle table was being prepped for a wine-flight and food-pairing event for 15 guests.
“We sold out in four days,” Ellen said of seats for Sultry Summer in Spain Wine Flight & Tapas. Prices for classes range from $15 for Tea 101 to $35 for a wine- and food-pairing, depending on the class, to $79 (and up) for a four-course/four-wine dinner. With the additional teaching space has come the opportunity to offer more classes, said Ellen. Another bonus: The space can be reserved for private events.
The open kitchen area allows Ellen and guest chefs and food/wine experts to chop, cook and converse as students watch. “Of course, all the recipes have something in them that we carry,” said Ellen, who brought wine specialist Steve Wood to talk about that evening’s selections.
“This is my third time,” said Linda Nessi, of O’Fallon as she sipped wine and nibbled Spanish manchego cheese and apple slices. “I took a fish class, an omelet class, now this one, and I signed up for Tea 101.”
Friend Lynn Erlinger, of Belleville, was attending a class for the first time, but “this is my fourth time here. Once you come here, that’s it. This is my new favorite place.”
At the back of the store, Tim has arranged special tall wood shelves to hold the boutique wines they carry.
“Our goal is 100 wines,” he said. “We’re very particular about wine.” The carriage house has been put to use as a unique place to hold tastings.
“I also think one of the things that sets us apart is our knowledge of pairings,” said Ellen. “If you’re having salmon for dinner, we can help you find the right wine.”
Most wine at Fezziwig’s is sold by the bottle ($14.99 and up), though a by-the-glass list is available ($7 and up). Gourmet crackers ($4.99) and specialty cheeses ($3.99) are also available to be enjoyed in the courtyard or the culinary room.
Customers can also enjoy a cup of tea or coffee ($2.25 to $2.99) and a scone ($3.50), or other bakery item if available that day.
Ellen and Tim like to emphasize the shop has Sunday hours, and it’s a great place to stop in to pick up something special to add to a meal.
Fezziwig’s at a glance
What: Specialty tea, wine and gourmet food shop. Culinary classes also offered.
Where: 225 W. First St., O’Fallon
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; to 8 p.m. Thursday; to 5 p.m. Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.