Even at 10-years-old, Paige Williams was into plating, albeit with hotdogs and mandarin oranges arranged into a smiley face.
“I’ve always had an eye for things,” Williams says. “I love creating different things, and I love food.”
Still, she didn’t anticipate owning her own gourmet marketplace at the age of 23, but the pieces fell into place with the help of the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust. Williams took over Kelsick Specialty Market, a 30-year staple of the Gloucester Village, in March 2019 after founder and former owner Beth Haskell retired.
The eclectic market at 6632 Main Street in Gloucester Village features from-scratch prepared meals (the Shepherd’s Pie sells out quickly and the mustard cream sauce on the pork chop is divine), local seafood, fresh herbs and spices and even at growler station.
The wine selection is massive; craft beers and meads are available, too.
“I like unique,” says Williams, trained at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We try to have brands you can’t get everywhere. We try to be like a mini Whole Foods because it has a little bit of everything. I’d like this to be a one-stop shop for people.”
Williams knows Kelsick needs to sell milk for that and is looking into working with a dairy.
Keeping the bounty local is important to Williams. Growing up, the native of the Seaford area of Yorktown boated with her family for weekend dinners out — the waterfront restaurant, now York River Oyster Company, at Gloucester Point was a regular stop. She gained an appreciation for the work ethic of the watermen and farmers on the Middle Peninsula, and Kelsick Specialty Market supports many of them.
Mobjack Farms supplies produce and eggs. Wake Forest Farms is her go-to for ground beef, and Bob’s Best Quality Spices provides spice blends. The store carries Tasha’s Own goat soap, and Shore & Ruark Seafood regularly delivers a yummy shrimp and crab dip. Honey comes from Zanoni Bees, right in Gloucester.
Chef Taylor Duncan and Sous Chef Drew Luffey prepare the to-go meals — these years-old recipes are the originals with a few new additions. Whole pies on sale range from Bourbon Fudge to Brown Butter Coconut.
“People love having ready-to-go meals,” Williams said. “These are freshly prepared, homecooked recipes.”
Though Williams grew up close to Gloucester, she rarely ventured there. She’s since fallen in love with everything Gloucester Village.
“I love being on Main Street,” she says. “People are so supportive here. It’s so different than any other place.
A chalkboard on the wall of the store lists 12 charities that Kelsick supports, one per month. They include Habitat for Humanity, Natasha House and G.U.E.S.T. (Gloucester United Emergency Shelter Team).
The market also caters, and post-COVID, plans call for four-course dinners on site with a wine or beer pairing. The grand plan calls for transforming 1,000 square feet of unused space into what Williams calls a speakeasy with a 1920s theme.
“I’d like to do full cocktails, a limited menu, 10 or 12 drinks at most,” she says. “I want a small tapas menu. I want people to be able to come in, have a glass of wine and hang out.”
One of these days, Williams might just have her own wine label, too. She envisions working a vineyard and making her own wine. She studied and toured vineyards as part of a study abroad program in Germany.
Newly married, Paige and her husband, Cody, dote on their beagle Birdie Lou, “our little child,” Paige says. They make a point to experience a new local restaurants on Saturday evenings and love being outdoors on the Middle Peninsula.
Kelsick Specialty Market is open Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For questions, call 804-693-6500.