MAGNOLIA — Tyler Reaska, a self-taught coffee roaster and owner of the wildly successful Sally Sue’s Coffee, has not only brought new business to his hometown of Magnolia, but is also expanding his enterprise into LaSalle, and possible well beyond the Illinois Valley.
A new Sally Sue’s Cafe is scheduled to open at 728 First St., in LaSalle, on July 27. Reaska is also expanding his roasting operation in Magnolia with the addition of a 1,200- square-foot warehouse.
“We were at five employees, but we’ve added two here in Magnolia, and with the opening of the LaSalle location, we’ll have 12 total. With the way things are going, I’m expecting to need 15 by the end of the year, and it could even be up to 20,” he said.
On Saturday, July 6, Reaska was celebrating not only his new LaSalle location, but also the addition of a newly constructed patio in Magnolia. Customers can now either enjoy their coffee and food in the comfortable indoor seating area, or under a shady umbrella when the weather is pleasant.
After successfully providing organic, fair trade coffee to major regional retailers such as Hy-Vee, Schnuck’s, Green Top Grocery, Naturally Yours Grocery, Woodman’s, Valli Produce, Fresh Thyme, Tony’s Fresh Market, Brookhaven Market Place, as well as Illinois Valley establishments such as Bean Box, Uptown Grill and Rawfully Yours, Sally Sue’s customer list continues to grow.
“We’ve added more Hy-Vee’s, a handful of Sullivan’s, and will possibly be adding Menard’s,” Reaska said.
Sally Sue’s may also soon be available on the East Coast. Reaska said a broker for 1,000 locations in that region is interested in helping to greatly expand Sally Sue’s customer base.
“If that happens, I’ll be very happy. At that point, I might add a few more stores, but that’s pretty much it, I’m set. I’d be content and will get to play some more golf,” he said.
“It’s been crazy to keep up with, but none of this would have happened without Tyler. He’s the man of persistence,” Emily Wingate, director of operations and Reaska’s fiancee, said as she served a line of customers.
Reaska is also interested in going beyond normal fair trade practices. A premium is already paid for the raw coffee beans used by Sally Sue’s, but that premium goes to the farmers, not the workers. He said he’s hoping to take a trip to the source in the future in order to rectify that.
“I’d like to be able to say I’ll buy the whole crop this year if the farmer will agree to pay their workers a certain amount,” he said.
For more information, visit www.sally-sues.com online or visit the cafe in downtown Magnolia. Sally Sue’s can be reached via phone at 309-532-7285 or by email at Sales@sally-sues.com.