Welcome to October

Erik Flesch & Sara Lomasz Flesch

There are certain people we can’t imagine our nook of the Driftless Area without. “Papa” Bob and Kate McQuade are two of them.  

Owners of The Shoppe at Herbs Spices & More, the McQuades have been creating community since 1990 in their homey retail store and restaurant on Highway 14 in Arena. Known for Papa Bob’s spice blends, homemade soups, cheesecake, biscotti, “salty balls,” artisan breads and more, The Shoppe has also been a go-to destination on Tuesdays for backyard wood-fired Pizza on 14 with live music by local musicians; Saturdays for pasta dinners; monthly pre-pandemic exhibits celebrating local artists; the annual Arena Food Pantry fundraiser; and the irreplaceable “Church of the Sticky Bun” coffee klatsch on Sundays.

Kathy Steffen had the honor of making the last pizza for “Papa” Bob and Kate McQuade, owners of The Shoppe at Herbs Spices & More, on Sept. 28, 2021. Kathy is so grateful to Kate and Bob for bringing her into their Pizza on 14 family! Photo courtesy of Rob Steffen.

As Papa Bob and Kate prepare to close The Shoppe this month and celebrate his 90th birthday Oct. 3, we celebrate all they have contributed to fill our stomachs and our hearts. As another fan put it, Bob, Kate and their business “have served as an important center-of-gravity in our community and their active presence will be sorely missed. … Their’s has been a remarkable and exemplary story of commitment — to neighbors, to ideals and to each other.” Thank you, Papa Bob and Kate, for your long-time support of Voice of the River Valley and the Driftless Area.

We also extend gratitude this month to the featured voices that fill these pages with words and art: Bazile Booth, Doris Green, Steve Fuller, John Heasley, Linda Kelen, Jennifer Moore-Kerr and Kathy Steffen. Thanks also to our volunteer distribution team of Joni and Rick Graves, Linda Kelen, Mark McCauley, Brian Richter and Nick Schweitzer, and to the advertisers (see p. 3) whose financial support makes the printing of these pages possible.

Whether you enjoy this month’s issue in print or online, we wish you happy reading.