About Us: Our History

Our History

The Garlic Press History

The Garlic Press opened in 1974 as a cookware specialty store in a small space in downtown Normal, IL. In 1976 Dorothy Bushnell took over the business full time. In 1978 the store began to offer cooking classes in a nearby church kitchen. The classes provided a place to learn about cooking, but also a place to gather with friends and enjoy the passion of good food. The Garlic Press was the first downstate store to offer the revolutionary Cuisinart Food Processor. Near the same time in the 1970’s, the first issues of the Garlic Press Newsletter went to print to publicize the cooking classes, new products and events. The newsletter is still written, edited and laid-out by us (and still printed on the same “vintage” yellow paper stock from the 1970’s).

In 1981, the Garlic Press moved a few doors down the street to its present location, more than tripling the space. At that time we added fresh whole bean coffee, a small food section and Bridal Registry to the mix. When local jewelry artist Linda Isaccson Healy decided to give up her retail business a jewelry section was added, dedicated largely to handcrafted jewelry. Several years later we introduced FLAX clothing to the Bloomington-normal community.

In 1996, we took another big step and gave up storeroom space and created a Cooking Class Kitchen within the store.

In 2000, Dorothy was delighted to bring three partners into the business: long time employees Sarah Bushnell McManus, Pam Locsin and Jackie Pope-Ganser. Their diverse talents and enthusiasm have added immensely to the Garlic Press.

Our biggest expansion yet was the opening of the Market Café in the adjoining building on April 5th, 2005. Seven days a week the café serves made-from-scratch dishes using fresh seasonal and local ingredients when available. The café also specializes in a variety of baked goods, coffees, teas and proudly boasts a specialty cheese case filled with premier domestic and imported cheeses.