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Popular south Eugene cookware store to close – The Register |

Popular south Eugene cookware store to close – The Register

After 22 years in business, Cook’s Pots and Tabletops owners Kathy Campbell and Keith Ellis are about to serve their final course as store owners.

The couple announced last week that they will close the south Eugene cookware shop in the weeks ahead, after they sell the store’s inventory. The store is in the SouthTowne Shoppes near East 28th Avenue and Oak Street.

Campbell and Ellis did not divulge annual sales figures but said the shop has been consistently profitable.

“The business has made money every year; it’s done well,” Campbell said. “We are retiring so we can have time for ourselves and do some other things.”

Cook’s Pots and Tabletops is known for high-end cookware and cooking classes taught by Campbell, Ellis and guest chefs.

The couple said some people had expressed an interest in buying the business, but the potential owners wanted Ellis, 62, and Campbell, 73, to run the store for them.

“It is just time to move on,” Campbell said. “The store is a huge thing to walk away from. It’s been a focal point of our lives for a long time.”

Robin Wiper, a cooking instructor who has known Campbell for more than 30 years, said the couple have been an integral part of Eugene’s culinary scene.

Besides their knowledge of cookware, Ellis and Campbell know restaurateurs, chefs and cookbook authors from around the world, Wiper said.

The couple would bring cookbook authors and famous chefs into their store to teach cooking classes, she said.

Campbell and Ellis also sell high-quality spices, cooking oils and wine.

“For me, (the closing will be) a heartache,” Wiper said. “If I need a new pot or pan, or Madagascar vanilla, or salt or olive oil, that is where I go.”

The store, which occupies about 2,000 square feet, has had two to three employees, in addition to Campbell and Ellis.

Ellis and Campbell opened Cook’s Pots and Tabletops in 1996. The store was a successor to Cook’s Nook, a kitchenware store that dated to the 1970s.

Campbell and Ellis also owned Fettucine Co., a catering firm that helped to supply the delis of Eugene-based PC Market of Choice, which later became Market of Choice. In 2002, the couple sold the catering firm to Market of Choice, which wanted to improve its deli offerings. Ellis said he worked for Market of Choice for three years after the sale as food services director. He said he oversaw the remodeling and revamping of the grocery chain’s bakeries and delis, and all aspects of its prepared food service.

Longtime patrons of Cook’s Pots and Tabletops are melancholy about the impending closure.

“I’m happy for (Campbell and Ellis), but sad for all us customers,” said Alayne Clarke of Eugene.

Clarke first attended a cooking class at the shop in 1999. She estimated that she took 15 to 20 classes a year.

“I keep the recipes in binders,” Clarke said. “I have three 5-inch binders filled with recipes from those classes.”

Clarke said she became a better cook because of the instruction.

Ellis, for example, taught students how to use kitchen knives and how to make cheese, Clarke said.

“I’ve learned so many things over the years, whether it was cooking techniques or recipes,” she said. “I have learned a lot about wines, and pairing certain wines with certain foods. I am a much better cook for my family.”

Clarke’s husband, Steve Clarke, has learned about baking from Campbell and Ellis. “He has become a really good baker from the classes that he has taken,” she said.

Campbell and Ellis are “just the most generous people that I know, in terms of giving information and knowledge,” Clarke added. “I consider them friends.”

Ellis said he and his wife look forward to traveling after they close their store. But they might not completely give up their passion for teaching people how to cook.

“We might be guest teachers in somebody else’s space,” he said.

Follow Ed Russo on Twitter @edwardrusso . Email .


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