Jolly Good: Chippy’s Brings Out Nebraska’s Inner BritsSep 29, 2022 03:23PM ● By Dwain Hebda
Photo by Bill Sitzmann
When Sophie Wilson landed in Omaha two years ago, following her husband Jamie, a neurosurgeon at Nebraska Medical Center, it wasn’t the first time the family had lived away from her native Britain. But certain parts of the adjustment process never get any easier, she said.
“The hardest thing for me to get used to is definitely the food,” Wilson said. “Being able to buy sauces and simple things like flour and sugar...they’re slightly different. I know that sounds really silly. Butter as well [...] Our cows are fed on grass instead of corn, so it just tastes different.”
Fortunately, Wilson’s arrival in Omaha roughly coincided with the opening of Chippy’s British Market and Bakery, a place that feeds her on many levels.
“I think it’s partly the community, actually, the people I meet there,” she said. “It feels really nice to know that I can just nip up the road and grab any sort of anything for cooking a British recipe, or to have certain tea to drink. It’s been so lovely.”
Glenn Greet had people like Wilson in mind when he opened the Chippy’s last year. Having resided in the States since 2000, he’d lived in various cities that provided the tastes of home he pined for—most recently, the Atlanta area where his American-born wife Laura is from. But when Laura landed a plum job with Union Pacific in 2017, the move to Omaha landed Glenn in a British food desert.
“We noticed pretty quickly there was literally no British presence—clubs, culture, food, anything—in the entire state,” Greet said. “We found some little shops in Kansas, but that’s a four-hour, six-hour round trip. It got pretty old pretty quick.”
Greet believed there was sufficient Brit population in Omaha suffering the same issues he was, and on that belief he opened the market last spring, with Laura in charge of the on-premises bakery. In short order, the couple realized how badly he had miscalculated his market.
Greet continued, “We built a little grocery shop [based] on what 200 Brits we polled wanted and about 20 items in a bakery that people miss most. We opened in April of last year, and in 14 months we’ve done about $1.5 million in business. That’s just one location.
“I started with one shipment from England every six weeks, pallet-sized. About after the first month, we were two pallets a week. I made my importers very happy. The butterbeers alone, we sold over 12,000 butter beers in a year. Just absolutely insane.”
Only 20% of market receipts are from native Brits, interestingly enough, while 80% are from Americans with some connection to or affinity for British food and culture. This demographic data has emboldened Greet to expand, starting with Chippy’s Lincoln, which opened earlier this year, and six more sites are planned in the next three years. This doesn’t count the British restaurant he’s got in mind for Omaha by 2025.
One thing that won’t be replicated is the bakery—that will remain an Omaha-only attraction. This is just fine with Laura, who balances this labor of love with her full time job at Union Pacific.
“When he had this idea it was like, I don’t know how many Brits are here in this area, but I think you’re onto something,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do a bakery; I love to bake sweets and dessert. So, this enabled us to put those two things together. It’s just fun to see it grow and it’s fun to have this dream starting to become reality. It’s been fun to watch.”
Visit chippysomaha.com for more information.
This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.