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Growing in Superior

Feeding the culinary arts is a growing business for Duluth-based Epicurean. With customers in about 50 countries around the world, the kitchen cutting board and utensil company is moving to a larger manufacturing facility within the Twin Ports. "...

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Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Gene Larson, of Duluth, gets cutting boards ready to add a logos Monday morning at Epicurean in West Duluth.

Feeding the culinary arts is a growing business for Duluth-based Epicurean.

With customers in about 50 countries around the world, the kitchen cutting board and utensil company is moving to a larger manufacturing facility within the Twin Ports.

"We are elated that Epicurean has decided to expand their production capabilities here in Superior," said Mayor Bruce Hagen. "This is another great addition to our diverse manufacturing base. The investment they are making in our community shows that Superior is a great place to do business."

The company is relocating next spring after an extensive renovation of a 60,000-square-foot facility on Connors Point to begin this fall.

"We’re excited to find a facility in the Twin Ports that meets our growing manufacturing needs," said Dave Benson, Epicurean co-owner and chief financial officer. :"This region has been incredibly supportive of our business and we have a very dedicated and talented workforce - most of whom are from the Twin Ports and surrounding communities. Keeping our business here is important to us."

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The building on Connors Point - the Woodline Manufacturing building at 257B Main Street - will double the available production space for Epicurean, which started with 15 employees and now employees 50.

The new facility will allow the company to improve its processes, Benson said.

It will also provide a better space for employees that work for the company, said Tony Ciardelli, CEO of Epicurean.

Epicurean got its start in 2003 from a desire to use excess materials from True Ride, a skate park construction and design company that built Superior’s skate park among hundreds of others across the nation. True Ride has since been sold.

Since 2005, Epicurean has been headquartered at the Hawksboot Sustainable Manufacturing Facility, a four-acre brownfield industrial site in West Duluth. The company remediated and refurbished the site with the help of Duluth architect David Salmela.

Epicurean’s sister companies, Intectural and Loll Designs will continue to occupy the Hawksboot facility for warehousing and ancillary production.

"All our manufacturing is done here," Ciardelli said. "It’s a little bit unique in our industry. A lot of manufacturers or a lot of products in general are thought up but are then manufactured elsewhere and sold."

Benson said "Made in America" is a selling point around the world, and manufacturing locally allows the company to be nimble in the marketplace, allowing Epicurean to respond quickly to customers’ needs.

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"It really gives us a lot of control on our products," Ciardelli said. "It’s a better quality and a better design … We are definitely believers in keeping jobs here and it benefits us."

Today, Epicurean’s products can be found in retail markets and the food service industry.

And that includes using local companies for packaging and transportation.

Epicurean plans to invest $2 million to $2.5 million in the Connors Point facility, said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director for Superior. He said the gain for Superior is an environmentally conscious company.

From responsibly sourcing materials, to recycling or finding new uses for waste materials, whether new products or biomass, Benson and Ciardelli agree that taking responsibility for its products and waste remains a priority for the company.

And Epicurean customers are sold on the quality of the product.

"I have two of them; they’re great," said Mike McCoshen, commenting on the company’s nick-resistant, Wisconsin-sourced cutting boards. McCoshen is a member of the Redevelopment Authority, which approved a development agreement with Epicurean late last week.

For information about the company, visit www.epicureanusa.com .

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