Three Women Making an Impression on Downtown Salt Lake: Kathie Chadbourne, owner of From The Ground Up

March 28, 2023 Written by Melissa Fields

Amelia Earhart once said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.” In celebration of Women’s History Month, here is our third profile of truly tenacious Salt Lake City women, each of whom are contributing more than their fair share to downtown’s rich vibrancy.

It was a breezy and overcast Tuesday afternoon in downtown Salt Lake when I met Kathie Chadbourne at her charming east Broadway neighborhood store, From the Ground Up (239 E. 300 South). As we sat at a blue café table in the middle of her beautifully displayed collection of rocks, plants and petrified wood—along with her tiny kitchen and coffee bar—Kathie greeted each patron who wandered through the door with warm familiarity. They included a construction worker after a bowl of Kathie’s homemade soup of the day (Italian vegetable topped with parmesan encrusted polenta), a pair of phone-toting teenage girls and Kathie’s dear friend, Corrine. Chadbourne explained the eclectic parade of patrons by saying, “I’m all about community.” As if it wasn’t obvious. 

Many Salt Lake residents know Chadbourne as owner and operator of the now-closed Avenues Bakery and Avenues Bistro on Third. “Alice Waters is my mentor,” Chadbourne says. “I’m all about local food and investing in the people around me.” In January 2022, five years after selling Avenues Bistro on Third, Chadbourne was busy with various catering jobs when she had an epiphany. “I was driving around during this huge snowstorm, running from here and there delivering food, when I decided I wanted to open a rock shop,” she says. “When I told my four daughters, they said, ‘it’s about time.’” Serendipitously, the next day while getting a pedicure at Happy Nails on Broadway, she spotted a ‘for rent’ sign in the storefront next door. “The owner of the space’s business, Missy’s Misc, had decided to move on from the space she’d occupied for years and had put the sign up just night before. I called her and four days later signed the lease for the retail space as well as the apartment above it. And a month later I opened From the Ground Up,” Chadbourne says. As a devoted rockhound for the past 40 years, Chadbourne found most of the stones, fossils, bones, feathers and piece of petrified wood now on display in her lovely little store herself. Her granddaughter, Harper, helped her come up with the store’s name.

“I didn’t want to sell just rocks” in From the Ground Up, Chadbourne added plants to her inventory as well as a small coffee bar and kitchen. “The difference between a coffee bar and a coffee shop,” she explains, “is that, when I hand customers their cup of coffee, I do so with the lid off, which encourages them to taste it to make sure it’s to their liking before they leave.” This inherent concern for others inspired her to add soup to the coffee bar’s small menu. “I’d watch all these construction workers walk past my shop with bags from 7-11,” she says. “That’s no kind of food for people who are doing the most dangerous job in America! So now I sell hot, homemade soup, too.” 

Not one to rest on her laurels, Chadbourne is in the process of enhancing From the Ground Up in multiple ways. The shop will soon include a fluorescent room, where patrons can see how the colors of rocks change when they are placed under a black light. She is adding a freezer to her tiny kitchen, allowing her to sell a new line of locally made ice cream. And, “since no one can live on soup alone,” this summer Chadbourne will add made-to-order barbecue and meatball sandwiches to her daily soup offering. 

When it was time for me to leave, Chadbourne walked me out and talked about each of the other businesses she proudly shares her funky corner of Broadway with: City Barbers, Jitterbug Antiques, D’Antii Tailor and Abyss Body Piercing and, of course, Happy Nails. “I just love being here,” she says.