Biz Buzz: Dubuque eatery touts cacao; Family Dollar now open; Galena business to offer Mexican-style sweets

business tips sought

Do you have an interesting story or news tip to share about a local business? Ideas can be shared with business editor Jeff Montgomery by calling 563-588-5753 or by emailing

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states each Tuesday. This week, we highlight developments from Dubuque and Galena, Ill.

The COVID-19 pandemic might have led Steve Thompson to close one Dubuque restaurant, but it also introduced him to a food that is the namesake of the new eatery he now has opened at the same location.

In early 2020, Thompson opened Marimba at 105 Locust St., specializing in gyros, shawarma and tacos al pastor.

The COVID-19 pandemic struck shortly thereafter and created many challenges for Thompson, including difficulties obtaining supplies. Last month, he announced he was closing the business, with plans to open another in its place.

The building since has been repainted a vibrant pink and is now home to Kakow Kanteen, which serves cacao-based beverages and cafe-style foods.

Thompson said during the pandemic, he became interested in the health benefits of cacao, the plant from which chocolate is derived. He described it as a nutrient-dense food, high in antioxidants, protein and fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and might contribute to weight loss.

Cacao is the star ingredient in the drinks sold at Kakow Kanteen, including cacao milks, fruit smoothies and brewed cacao.

“You brew what’s called nibs, which are basically chopped-up cacao beans,” Thompson said. “The best way to think of it is like chocolate tea. … It’s very subtle. It’s got a sense of chocolate-ness to it, but it’s also got a little nuttiness and a little bit of a floral (taste).”

The menu also includes pastries, breakfast sandwiches, waffles, paninis, salads and tacos.

Rather than the late-night crowd Marimba targeted, Kakow Kanteen serves breakfast and lunch.

Kakow Kanteen is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit the business on Facebook.


A Family Dollar location recently opened at Dubuque’s Plaza 20 shopping center.

Sara Kahle Hutchinson, vice president of Plaza 20, confirmed that the business opened at 2600 Dodge St. on Sept. 23.

“We’ve had a great reception, both from our tenants and from the community,” she said. “It’s just an easy store to access. It’s large, (with) bright aisles and good parking and just a great selection.”

The discount store sells a variety of products, from groceries and household supplies to pet items, holiday decorations and gifts.

The new Family Dollar occupies the former home of the grocery store Save-A-Lot, which closed in spring 2017. The 15,000-square-foot space had been empty since that time.

Hutchinson said the business fills a void in the shopping center created by the departure of retailers Save-A-Lot and Kmart.

“Our goal is to maintain and create a really vibrant, mixed-use destination for the community, so we are … excited to find such a strong retailer in a sector of business that we wanted to offer here at our center,” she said.

Family Dollar at Plaza 20 is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The business can be reached at 563-258-6184.


A new Galena business soon will tempt local palates with Mexican-style sweets and snacks.

Galena couple Maria Ayala and Mario García plan to open La Michoacana Irmanaju at 110 S. Main St. The site formerly housed Great American Popcorn Co., which recently moved to 115 N. Main St.

The new business, poised to open by the end of October, will feature Mexican ice cream, desserts and other traditional delicacies.

“It’s like an ice cream parlor, but ice cream with a Mexican style,” said Ayala, a native of Veracruz, Mexico. “We’re going to prepare all the products ourselves here in Galena, using fresh products like fresh fruits.”

“La Michoacana” is the name of many Mexican ice cream shops in Mexico and the U.S. It is not an official brand but refers to a loosely connected network of shops, typically family-owned. Although the shops feature similar offerings, each is individually operated, according to Ayala.

“When you hear the name ‘Michoacana,’ you immediately think of elotes and esquites,” she said. “(But) every Michoacana is unique.”

The Galena business will indeed offer elotes and esquites, two variations on a Mexican street dish of grilled corn slathered in a spicy, cheesy sauce. The menu also will feature a variety of dessert options, including mini pancakes, tres leches cake and flan.

And, of course, patrons will be able to sample a plethora of ice cream flavors, as well as paletas, or popsicles, and fruity drinks such as mangonadas, a type of Mexican smoothie.

Ayala said La Michoacana ice creams rely less on cream than traditional American ice creams do, typically utilizing a base of water, milk or fresh fruit.

“The taste is different, but good,” she said.

The second part of the business’ name, “Irmanaju,” is comprised of the names of the couple’s four children: Irais, Magali, Natalie and Julian Garcia-Ayala.

La Michoacana Irmanaju plans to hire three employees, in addition to the García-Ayala family. Future customers can track the progress of the business by visiting La Michoacana Irmanaju on Facebook.