Biz Buzz: Boutique launches Dubuque storefront; auto shop fills void in Maquoketa; bar, eatery changes offerings, identity

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. In this week’s edition, we highlight developments from Dubuque and Maquoketa, Iowa.

With the opening of a brick-and-mortar location, a pair of longtime friends hope to take their business to the next level.

KB&Co. will open a women’s clothing boutique at 331 Bluff St. in downtown Dubuque later this month. The name of the business is inspired by the first initial of its two owners, Dubuque residents Katie Martin and Brittany Harbert.

The duo started the business in the summer of 2018. They have spent the past three years operating without a permanent storefront, relying on their website and temporary, pop-up shops to conduct business.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the opportunities to offer pop-up shops were few and far between, Harbert and Martin gained a new appreciation for the importance of seeing their customers face to face.

“We really missed getting out and seeing them,” Harbert said. “We realized we wanted a place where our customers can come and shop with us in person.”

KB&Co. soon started seeking out storefront locations and set their sights on the 300 block of Bluff, a stretch that already features multiple locally owned boutiques.

Harbert believes that each boutique in Dubuque has its “own niche and style,” meaning they complement, rather than compete, with one another. KB&Co. specializes in offering clothing for young women, she said.

Martin and Harbert are lifelong friends who both attended University of Dubuque, where they sharpened their business knowledge and prepared to enter the working world.

The boutique is a side gig for both of them, with Martin working full time in marketing and Harbert focusing on sales operations. KB&Co. makes their lives much busier but is a worthwhile endeavor, Martin said.

“It can be crazy sometimes. We are juggling a lot,” Martin said. “But we love bringing something fun to the community and making our customers feel good.”

KB&Co. will offer a sneak peek of the business from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 22. It will begin offering regular hours on May 28. From that point on, the business will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Customers can learn more at


A new business has opened in a Maquoketa location that has long served area residents’ automotive needs.

1st Class Auto Body & Paint opens today at 104 N. Olive St., according to co-owner Mike Palmisciano. The new business will occupy the structure that formerly housed Tandem Tire, which closed its Maquoketa location last year.

1st Class can provide auto body, painting and detailing services for a wide range of vehicles. Co-owner Kathy Clark, who is engaged to Palmisciano, emphasized that 1st Class Auto Body & Paint even will work on semi-trucks and boats.

“We will take anything,” she said. “No job is too big. No job is too small.”

Palmisciano previously owned a similar shop in Rhode Island and brings more than four decades of experience to the table.

“I have been doing this kind of work since I was 15, and I will be 60 in a couple months,” he said.

1st Class Auto Body & Paint can be reached at 563-212-4632. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.


A Dubuque business has enhanced its offerings and created a new brand in hopes of finding success in a post-pandemic economy.

The bar and eatery formerly known as Which? Sandwich now is operating under the name Third Corner Food & Spirits. Owner Blue Kunz said the new name alludes to the fact that her business is the third bar to operate on the corner of West First and Main streets, joining Lot One and 1st & Main. The other corner at that intersection is occupied by River City Church.

“Three bars and a church,” Kunz said, with a chuckle. “You can’t get more Dubuque than that.”

Kunz, however, acknowledged that owning a bar and restaurant during the pandemic has not been a laughing matter. Business came to a complete halt in the early stages of the pandemic, and Kunz has continued to deal with changing regulations and capacity restrictions ever since.

“It’s been kind of a blur,” she said. “The money we’ve brought in has gone toward paying rent and keeping the lights on.”

Under the previous moniker, most people thought of the business solely as a sandwich shop. Kunz believes the new name will make the business more appealing to the bar-hopping crowd that comes to the Lower Main District for the late-night drink and food options.

The branding is far from the only thing that has changed at the business.

Kunz’s husband constructed a bar within the location. Meanwhile, Third Corner added a variety of spirits to a drink selection that previously offered only beer and wine coolers.

Third Corner also changed its food offerings, introducing burgers to a menu that already included a wide array of sandwich options.

Slowly but surely, the Lower Main district is returning to pre-pandemic form. Kunz hopes Third Corner will hit the ground running as the crowds return.

“It is still hit-and-miss right now,” Kunz said. “One Friday, you’ll be swamped; the next, it will be dead. But you can feel things slowly coming back.”

Third Corner is located at 210 W. First St. and can be reached at 563-451-7708.