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Downtown Grocery: Healthy and Accessible

Hunter Kelch in front of Downtown Grocery

New accessible front entry at the Downtown Grocery

A few years ago, I decided to go gluten free due to health issues.  I was hoping that gluten was not the issue, because that would mean no more Big Macs.  Much to my dismay and my mom’s delight, I have had to say good-bye to my precious two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun.  However, going gluten free has lead me to a local organic establishment, The Downtown Grocery.

An unfortunate fire forced the Downtown Grocery to move out of its original building and into the Wausau Center Mall about two years ago.  I would not wish a fire on anyone, much less a small, local business.  However, if not for this fire, I would not have been able to become a customer.  I had always thought the old location was inaccessible.  However, recently I discovered the Downtown Grocery had a portable ramp in the back of the building.

When the Downtown Grocery moved into the Wausau Center Mall, I decided to check out their hot food bar one afternoon.  I was hooked after one bite of their Gluten Free Bleu Mac & Cheese.  Over their two year stay in the mall, I became a loyal customer.

My cheesy desires had me torn.  Of course, I wanted the Downtown Grocery to successfully return to their original, renovated location.  However, I feared that the accessibility issues would return.  A Facebook message to the owners, Kevin and Megan, revealed that the new location would indeed be accessible through the main entrance! Yes!

Concerns still plagued my Bleu Cheese loving soul.  Entering into a building, does not necessarily guarantee navigation through the aisles.  Narrow aisles have confined me to one spot, while my mom ran through the store.  I like to be able to see what is available and make my own selections.

A week or so ago, I was downtown for the Wausau Police Department’s Community Thank-You Event.  My mom and I decided to take the opportunity to pop in and check out the newly renovated Downtown Grocery.  The double doors were not automatic, but fairly easy to roll through when held open. Automatic doors are not only expensive, sometimes in older buildings, they are not possible.  When I rolled in, I was in awe of the new store.

Salad bar featuring olives

The olive bar!

Downtown Grocery is a wonderful blend of modern meets old-fashion charm.  The salad and hot food bar was super accessible.  Of course, personally I still need help plating my food.  It is my experience that the employees at the Downtown Grocery are extremely helpful, so I have no doubt assistance would always be available.

Nice wide aisles!

My chair easily navigated every single aisle.  The times I had to wait were only because the store was busy.  I have to say, I am so happy to see a small local business not just survive a fire, but also thrive in the aftermath.

The only area of the store which was not accessible, was the new loft dining area.  Despite my disappointment, it is a cool place to hang out and enjoy a healthy greener meal.  The affordability of luxuries like an elevator is out of reach for most small businesses. In older buildings, zoning can be an issue.  This is a reality I have to face head on with a smile.

The Downtown Grocery did not forget their customers with physical limitations.  There is an accessible dining area on the main level, so I can still enjoy a meal within the store.  A large window brightens this dining area and allows for users to view the downtown activity.  The tables are too low for my chair, but they are the standard height.  This is an issue pretty much wherever I go.  Hence, the reason I have a tray for my chair.

Downtown Grocery caters to anyone wanting to eat healthier. There are organic fruits, vegetables, meats and even spirits!  I found an awesome selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free selections.  The bulk food bins are not yet filled, so I am excited to see the options. Even healthy eaters need snacks and the Downtown Grocery offers a variety of frozen treats, chips and candy.

On this particular trip my mom and I each found treasures.  My mom recently began eating a plant based diet.  She purchased vegan Mac & Cheese and Jackfruit products.  I am a 25 year old recovering junk food junkie, I purchased gluten free cheese puffs and a chocolate bar!  It is a start!  I do plan to return to stock up on gluten free products as well as organic produce.

I highly recommend the Divine Dark Chocolate Bar with Mint.  In one simple word, DELICIOUS!! This bar had a perfect combination of crunchy and creamy.  You can never go wrong when mint and chocolate are involved!  Mint may not be a vegetable, but it is a plant!

Downtown Grocery is committed to providing healthy food options to the Wausau community. This warm, friendly grocery store is also committed to the environment, being as green as they can be.  For me, the Downtown Grocery is committed to providing accessibility to their customers with disabiltiies.  Click here to check out their website for store hours and scheduled hot food bar menu.

Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’


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