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who we are

the team at the table

Amy took her first serious interest in food at the young age of 3 weeks when her dad fed her anchovies and sardines. Skip forward a few years, and on October 21, 2003, Art of the Table is born. After months of hard work by local suppliers and contractors, and no small amount of dedication from Amy & Steve Ruis, the project received the Historic Preservation Award from the City of Grand Rapids. The speciality retail store is dedicated to the importance of gathering around a tasteful spread. The love Amy for entertaining and great food & drink lends perfectly to the varied & quality selections you will find in the store. More about the history of the store –>

Karen-002karen allen

Karen has worked at Art of the Table since August, 2013.

Essential tool (kitchen or other):

Love my cheese grater! I love to try a bit of any interesting cheese over just about any food.

Read more about Karen!

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?

I would like to be able to convince more people to buy a decanter or wine aerator, they make even bargain wine taste better!

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

I love the Wusthof knives. My quirky British hubby might should fear this?

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

Can’t name just one. I discover a new ‘favorite’ every week! But Brewery Vivant is quite near our house…just a short walk away. Gotta love that!

Best dinner in GR:

Dinner at Grove is always a culinary adventure.

Favorite Wealthy Street Business (besides AOTT):

Nourish: REAL milk and local meats and veggies AND I can walk there.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

Dolceacqua, Italy (Sweetwater) is near the French/Italian Riviera and the village is built into the side of a mountain. Full of art galleries in ‘caves’, a cool outdoor market and an ancient church to explore.

I can’t believe it but one time I…

My friends and I found a pink plastic pig on the street in Charleston, named it Chris, took it everywhere with us, gave it food/cocktails, photographed it on the shoulders of the locals who were very accommodating…hmmm, wonder what ever happened to him/her/Chris? And yes, we were drinking, that is what you do in Charleston, South Carolina.

amy baasamy baas, assistant manager

Amy B. has worked at Art of the Table since August, 2010.

We call you…

Tall Amy

Read more about Amy B.!

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?

Beer, wine, and greeting cards

Essential tool (kitchen or other):

a meat tenderizer, because it makes guacamole making SO easy.

Favorite Wealthy Street Business (besides AOTT):

Nourish

The best part of waking up is…

Madcap in my cup! (it’s the only thing that gets me up some days…)

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

The Sims computer game, Polly Pockets, and Littlest Pet Shop.

What is your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. Because it’s focused on family and food and it’s not very commercialized.

I can’t believe it but one time I…

…sat on a live crocodile…and lived to tell the tale (yes, I have pictures…)

Anything else that makes you – you?

What makes me, me is living in a walkable neighborhood. Leaving my car parked for a week or two at a time brings me great joy. I love knowing I can get anywhere I need to go without using fossil fuels.

katie meyerkatie brinks

Katie has worked at Art of the Table since July, 2011

We call you…

You can call me Katie, because Kate and Katherine are already taken and any other name would just be too confusing :)

Read more about Katie!

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

The rumors are all true, I am a self-diagnosed Art of the Table addict. My latest fixes are Sarah’s Sea Salts partnered with my Morrod’oro olive oil addiction on hot penne with freshly grated Parmesan. I also cannot seem to get enough of Spanish wines. Non-edible addictions include: Emile Henry (Ahn-ry) products and Wusthof (Voos-toff) cutlery. Not only is it fun to say both of those brand names, but they are absolute must-haves.

Essential tool:

Please do not make me do mental math. I absolutely need a calculator.

Favorite book:

In all seriousness, Oh The Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss. I’ve also been known to read cookbooks for fun and accidentally not return them (sorry, Mom).

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

It’s a tie between Graydon’s Crossing and Founder’s. Graydon’s has this beer called the Terminator which is part New Holland’s Dragons Milk and part Great Lakes Edmund Porter partnered up in one glass. It’s dark, heavy, and delicious which makes it the perfect comfort beer. Founder’s is great at crafting hoppy beers, and I haven’t met an India Pale Ale that I don’t like.

What chore do you hate?

I’m that girl who likes to clean and thinks it’s fun. Every thrill has it’s downfall and mine is sorting socks and washing a full sink of dirty dishes.

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

I love hide and seek. Thankfully I have nieces and nephews that also have an affinity for that game, so there’s no nostalgia here. It really is a win-win.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

Marquette, Michigan. Climbing waterfalls, kayaking to more waterfalls and jumping into Lake Superior in the summer is one of my favorite memories.

mallory feyen

Mallory has worked at Art of the Table since August, 2013.

I can’t believe it but one time I…

actually went on a roller coaster. Never again.

Read more about Mallory!

Why do you think Amy hired you?

I am really interested in food products because I love to bake and cook and I also love to organize!

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?

Ooo definitely stocking the chocolates. Or just stocking food in general.

Favorite book:

hmm I’ll pick a couple… I really love Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert because I love to read about food and travel. I also read cookbooks like novels. And any book by Marisa De Los Santos or Adriana Trigiani.

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

Sitting outside at Brewery Vivant is great fun!

What chore do you hate?

Putting away and folding laundry.

The best part of waking up is…

the sound of the coffee grinder and smell of coffee.

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

Legos and Barbies.

Anything else that makes you – you?

Dance is my life! I’ve choreographed musicals, coached a dance team, was involved in my college’s student dance organization, and now teach hip-hop dance fitness classes. Yes, I love to dance. :)

jackie garnerjackie garner

Jackie has worked at Art of the Table since October, 2011.

Favorite book:

Belong to Me by Marisa De Los Santos. I love the main character Cornelia. She is quirky, a little sarcastic, and has a wicked sense of humor. If she were a real person, I would want to be her best friend.

Read more about Jackie!

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?

Everywhere, at the same time. I like a challenge.

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

Effies, all the chocolate, and Chef Robin’s Hummus. Yummmm!

Essential tool (kitchen or other):

My kettle for tea and oatmeal in the morning! Microwaving water just isn’t the same. Also an apron, because I’m a messy cook. I actually have 2 – I’m so messy! I have to have a back up for when the other one is in the wash.

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

Brewery Vivant. The first time I went I was with my family and all 7 of us crammed into a booth meant for 4. I could barely move my arms, but it was completely worth it.

Best dinner in GR:

Chez Olga – has the best food and everyone is very friendly. I always leave feeling the heat of the Caribbean!

The best part of waking up is…

…when I realize I don’t have to get up yet and can fall back a sleep.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

Brussels. It really is the quirkiest place in the world. I don’t know how to described it.

michelle handmichelle hand

Michelle has worked at Art of the Table since the spring of 2009.

Why do you think Amy hired you?

When we moved to GR, we knew we found the right neighborhood as soon as we saw AOTT. The store was a perfect fit. I love cooking, entertaining, and chatting it up with new people. Amy might have hired me because I practically stalked AOTT on my daily strolls with my daughter Genevieve.

Read more about Michelle!

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

I can’t get my day started without my Madcap coffee. A guilty pleasure is certainly the Jeni’s ice cream or the Patricia’s Chocolates.

Essential tool (kitchen or other):

A good knife. I couldn’t live without my Wusthof Santoku.

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

Brewery Vivant. My husband took his family there the night our second daughter was born.

Favorite Wealthy Street Business (besides AOTT):

I love my girl Kristi at Jeffrey Richard Salon.

What is your favorite possession?

A picture of my husband when he was a boy. Awwww.

I can’t believe it but one time I…

…gave a kid a black eye. He pushed my brother down the stairs.

Anything else that makes you – you?

I’m a southern girl who loves sweet tea and sitting on porches in rocking chairs. My mother-in-law says the secret to sweet tea is brown sugar- now you know. :)

crystal jones

Crystal has worked at Art of the Table since August, 2013.

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?

I like to stock all the sauces and dips… It gives me ideas of recipes to try with the products at the store.

Read more about Crystal!

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

I love Wusthof knives!!

Essential tool (kitchen or other):

My Wusthof herb shears.

Favorite book:

The Book Thief

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

Skip-It

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

Honduras

Anything else that makes you – you?

I was in the military for 9 years, and developed an addiction to traveling to new places!

kate leederkate leeder, who can now be found at aperitivo

Kate has worked at Art of the Table since October, 2007

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

BB gun.

Read more about Kate!

We call you…

Chef Kate, or “the cheesemonger”

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

I like anchovies (both kinds), falksalt, country ketchup, sherry wine vinegar and all of the cheeses…except Maytag ;)

Essential tool:

A Microplane is essential for me…garlic, citrus zest, parm, ginger, etc. And my mini tongs that are like extended fingers.

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

The Meanwhile. I like going there and not seeing anyone I know, other than Bill, and having a great drink.

The best part of waking up is…

…husband, dogs, coffee, one more day.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

Hondarribia, Spain, on the balcony of the home my best friend grew up in, with Bill, my friend and his family having a 4 hour lunch. That makes the list of the top three meals of my life.

I can’t believe it but one time I…

…you can’t handle it.

andrea robinsonandrea robinson

Andrea R. has worked at Art of the Table since before the store even opened! She volunteered with building rehab in the spring of 2003 and started working with Amy on opening the store in August of 2003. She left after about 3 years to work as a social worker and now she’s back part time after a 5 year hiatus.

Favorite Wealthy Street Business (besides AOTT):

Tree Huggers – because I’m just impressed with what they are doing to promote sustainability in so many ways!

Read more about Andrea R.!

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here

Displays!! I’m also kind of obsessive about the aprons. I usually try to straighten them at least once while I’m working.

The best part of waking up is…

Rowster in my cup! Oh, and hearing my twin babies babbling to each other in their cribs!

What is your favorite holiday?

4th of July – It’s full of family AND friends and there’s not the pressure of gifts, decorating, fancy clothes. And it’s in the summer!

What is your favorite possession?

My wedding ring.

Anything else that makes you, you?

I love to sing, and have aspirations to sing in the GR Opera Chorus in the next few years. I love musical theater and if I had to start over in my career and had a voice more suited to that type of performance I would love to be on stage!

lora sieglora sieg

Lora has worked at Art of the Table since September, 2009.

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

Hopcat (can you say “crack fries”!!!)

Read more about Lora!

What are some of your favorite products in the store?Jeni’s, Askinosie 72%, cheese, any Italian red wine.Essential tool?

The french press

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?

Chocolate, ice cream, paper products, back room…

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

Light Brite

What is your favorite possession?

My Nana’s chair

annica vander linde

Annica started at Art of the Table in August, 2010 and worked here for about a year, then returned in August 2013.

Best dinner in GR:

Marie Catrib’s. Or Gaia Cafe. No, Maru. No wait, Vivant. They are all so good (and right next to each other)!

Read more about Annica!

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?

I love seasonal linens, towels, dishes and all things decor.

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

Wusthof Knives and Sarah’s Tuscan Sea Salt.

Favorite book:

Hmmm…at the moment, I’m loving my new cookbook: Quick Fix Vegan. Check it out! And yes, I actually read it like a book.

Favorite GR bar/brewery:

I am a big fan of Perrin (despite the drive). I love getting a bunch of small beer samples and their Veggie Burger and Sweet Potato Fries are to die for!

Favorite Wealthy Street Business (besides AOTT):

I am a huge fan of Johnny B’z. Specifically their veggie dog with ketchup, mustard, sriracha, vegetarian chilli, and pickles. NOMS.

Anything else that makes you – you that you don’t mind people knowing?

My puppy Oliver is the cutest Jack Russell Terrier in the world. Trust me.

allison vanskiverallison vanskiver

Allison has worked at Art of the Table since April, 2011.

What is your favorite holiday?

Christmas and the Kentucky Derby (yes, it’s a holiday in my family)

Read more about Allison!

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

NITA CRISPS!!!! Abdallah Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels with Seasalt, and our selection of cookbooks.

Favorite book?

I have TONS of them. Color of Water, Sarah’s Key, Ask Alice, The Paris Wife, Loving Frank … the list could go on and on!

Favorite GR bar/brewery?

No doubt in my mind… Brewery Vivant.

The best part of waking up is…

…playing with my dog, Zeke.

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

Barbies

Anything else that makes you, you?

I grew up in GR and LOVE this city! I am so excited about what’s happening around here and love being a part of it. I also am on the verge of completing a Masters in School Counseling! So close…

katherine wiliamskatherine williams

Katherine has worked at Art of the Table since August, 2011.

Favorite Wealthy Street Business (besides AOTT):

Rowster- gotta love the espresso and a cardamom shortbread cookie!!

Read more about Katherine!

Is there a section of the store you like to focus your time on while you’re here?Cheese & wine – I’m not an expert by any means but I really enjoy talking to others about their favorite cheeses and wines, also, sharing with them what I enjoy.Favorite book?

Right now I’m reading and REALLY enjoying A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

Favorite GR bar/brewery?

Stella’s – for their great bourbon selection; and The Pyramid Scheme – mostly for the pinball.

What chore do you hate?

I am a neat and clean freak so I don’t mind chores. Although, I am afraid of the giant ladder at Art of the Table, so I guess I don’t really like to change lightbulbs.

What toy/game from your childhood do you miss?

Easy Bake Oven

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

I’ve been all over but I am still baffled by Las Vegas – entirely different world over there!

What is your favorite possession?

A depression era chain-link purse.

amy ruisamy ruis, owner

friendly, hard working and trendy, Amy Ruis opened Art of the Table with her husband Steve on October 21, 2003.

What are some of your favorite products in the store?

Wine, chocolate, ice cream

Read more about Amy Ruis!

Essential tool?

6″ Wusthof chef’s knife

Favorite book?

Freckle Juice by Judy Blume or Small Giants by Bo Burlingham

The best part of waking up is…

…going to the gym at some freaking ungodly hour!

What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

Thailand

I can’t believe it but one time I…

…played Ms. Pacman for 8 hours straight.

Amy and Steve Ruissteve ruis, partner

hired muscle and property picker-up.

bryan vander ark

fly-by night technology and information systems angel.



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