Biz Buzz: Couple opens B&B in Galena; Dubuque eatery expands; mother-daughter duo opens community retail space

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-states. In this edition, we include updates from Dubuque and Galena, Ill.

For the owners of a new bed-and-breakfast in Galena, one of the most meaningful parts of the business is the name itself.

Emma-Jane and Justin Mayer opened Hummingbird House in early October. The name and accompanying logo tell the story of the couple’s early courtship.

Emma-Jane and Justin met online about four and a half years ago. Before they even met in person, the two felt they had a deep connection.

“People talk about getting butterflies in their stomach before they meet someone,” Emma-Jane said. “For us, we concluded that ‘butterflies’ wasn’t nearly demonstrative enough — a hummingbird was more like how we were feeling. Those wings were flapping pretty hard.”

Shortly after they started dating, Justin and Emma-Jane took a trip to Galena and agreed that they could envision moving to a small community like that one day.

COVID-19 accelerated that timetable. The virus complicated Justin’s career as a respiratory therapist and resulted in Emma-Jane being furloughed from her job in the hospitality sector.

Living in Chicago at the time, the Mayers set their sights on Galena and found a three-bedroom house, located at 420 Elk St., that was constructed in 1860. They decided to convert the property into a bed-and-breakfast.

A couple of weeks after opening, the Mayers are settling in quickly.

“We love being in the area we are in,” Emma-Jane said. “People like to be close to Main Street, and we are just three short blocks away from it. But we’re far enough out that it’s peaceful and quiet and you won’t hear the noise.”

The Mayers plan to add new components to Hummingbird House in the future, including an events and catering arm of the business.

As the operation grows, Justin believes that the owners’ connection with one another will be a key part of its success.

“We have a lot of similar interests like cooking, so that lends itself to making breakfast (for guests),” he said. “We both like cooking and working hard and making people happy.”

Hummingbird House can be reached at 312-607-1171


A Dubuque restaurant has started on a sizable expansion that is sure please its youthful customers.

Pizza Ranch recently kicked off a renovation that will add 2,250 square feet to its location at 2020 Radford Road.

Manager Tony Powers said the new space will feature a gaming area, where players can earn tickets and redeem them for prizes. The new space also will include a pair of new party rooms that can be rented out for occasions such as birthday parties.

“For younger kids, there is not a big selection of places to go in Dubuque,” Powers said. “This will give families another option.”

Powers noted that many other Pizza Ranch locations recently added similar kid-friendly amenities, including locations in Marion, North Liberty and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

A building permit issued by the City of Dubuque estimated the cost of the expansion at $680,000.

Pizza Ranch can be reached at 563-556-4488.


A mother-daughter duo that previously operated a community retail space on Central Avenue soon will open their own business in a different part of downtown Dubuque.

Alice Klinkhammer and her mother, Vickie, will open Mercantile on Main at 962 Main St. in November. The pair formerly oversaw Central Avenue Mercantile, a community retail space at 1902 Central Ave.

Alice explained that the Mercantile on Main will place a strong emphasis on local makers and products.

“It is an artisan-based store,” she said. “Everything we sell is handcrafted or homemade.”

Similar to the space on Central Avenue, Mercantile on Main will offer booth spaces to tri-state vendors looking to sell their wares. The product selection will include everything from stained glass and paintings, to wreaths and flower arrangements.

Alice Klinkhammer’s photography studio, Resonating Moments Photography, also will make the move to the 900 block of Main St., operating in a space beside Mercantile on Main. It had previously operated within the Central Avenue location.

Central Avenue Mercantile first opened in late 2019, and the Klinkhammers began operating the venture the following year.

A new vision is beginning to take root at 1902 Central Ave., according to building owner Tim Hitzler. A restaurant is poised to open within the structure in early January, as well as a significantly smaller retail space that will bring back the Central Avenue Mercantile name.

Meanwhile, the Klinkhammers believe they have found the perfect place for their new venture.

Vickie has noticed a steady influx of tourists perusing her block of Main Street. On top of that, Mercantile on Main is located in close proximity to large employers who bring thousands of workers downtown each weekday.

Weeks from opening, the excitement already is palpable.

“We have had people walk in and ask what we are doing with the building and when we are going to open,” Vickie said. “It’s great to see. I think we will have a much better traffic flow in this new location.”

Mercantile on Main can be reached at 563-564-3908.