Fish Creek Market is opening its 125th season under new owners Cristina and Stephen Jones, who moved to Door County from Minnesota. They’re the ninth operators in the history of the market, which was established in 1895 by Wallace and L.C. Hill and is the oldest continuously operating grocery store in Door County.
“There will be no grand opening because of how careful everyone is being during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cristina Jones said, “but we’re excited to be here.”
Cristina is a Minneapolis native, and Stephen grew up in a small town in Connecticut. They’d been back in Minnesota since 2006 and were looking for a business in which their whole family – including Sophia, 16; Isabella, 12; and Cecilia, eight – could be involved.
When they learned that Fish Creek Market (the business, not the building) was for sale, they were excited that it met all of their criteria: It was in Door County, a place they’d fallen in love with during vacations; it was near Green Bay, the home of Cristina’s sister’s family, with whom the Joneses are very close; and it was the perfect business for Stephen, who has been a chef for his entire adult life.
“He started as a dishwasher,” Jones said, “but for almost 20 years, has run big and small professional kitchens, retail and a co-op deli. Everything about our decision to come to Door County just clicked.”
The big question: Will the Norzwich live on? “Definitely yes,” Jones said. “We understand it’s a big part of the Fish Creek Market tradition. We found a lot of the printed Norzwich forms. Probably the health department will have tighter rules in the beginning, so sandwiches will have to be prepackaged, but eventually Stephen can get creative with a deli department.
“Ann Norz knocked on the window when she was out for a walk a few weeks ago and came in to chat. We loved hearing her ‘back in the day’ stories about her boys growing up in the store, running down to the beach, then coming back to help her and Geri. That’s the sort of life we envision our girls having here, too.
“Stephen’s been in Fish Creek more than I have the past two months, getting to know people and finding out what they like and need. A huge part of being in a community is responding to what people are looking for in a deli and grocery. We plan to honor the mercantile tradition, having the things people want to stock their fridge and pantry at home, on a boat or in a weekend cabin, or to put together a special picnic.
“We want our store to be a welcoming place to pick up a Norzwich and a bottle of wine. We’re excited to meet people in the community and to welcome tourists when the county opens back up. If there’s a need for the market to be open year-round, we’re open to doing that.”
Jones said she and Stephen love being next door to On Deck and part of downtown Fish Creek. “It’s a great community,” she said. “We’ve met quite a few people so far and feel so welcome.”
The family is renting a home in Sister Bay for now but eventually plans to build.