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On the Surface opens in downtown Manitowoc

Family-owned business offers specialty products, quartz countertops

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November 2, 2023

MANITOWOC – A new business in downtown Manitowoc aims to carve out a niche in the area’s upscale retail market. 

On the Surface – a specialty gourmet food products and accessories store, complete with a countertop showroom – is the brainchild of Jeff and Meagan Stegemann.

Jeff has owned a cabinet, countertop and tile business since 2003, but said his wife envisioned more.

Meagan – a longtime teacher – said she recently left the industry to open the business with her husband.

“I resigned this summer and started on this adventure with him,” she said.

Revitalizing downtown
The Stegemanns opened On the Surface last month at 836 S. 8th St. in a building that dates back to 1928 – which originally housed Kresge’s department store, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The couple purchased the 2,500-square-foot space in 2022 and got to work on renovations thanks in part to the City Manitowoc Facade Grant Program – which according to the city’s website aims to “stimulate private investment in high-quality exterior building improvements that strengthen the historic and architectural character of Manitowoc’s commercial areas.”

The program provides “financial assistance for the rehabilitation of building facades with the goal of rehabilitating and/or preserving the building’s original facade whenever possible and is a dollar-for-dollar matching grant rebated back to the building owner after all improvements and updates have occurred,” the website states.

The rebate has no repayment requirements.

On the Surface sells a variety of locally sourced products. Submitted Photo

Jeff said they began with renovations on the exterior of the building before moving inside. 

“Starting last year, we fixed up the outside,” he said. “We did a granite exterior to bring it back to the original style, and we did the same on the inside to reflect the style of the building.”

Meagan said they are excited to be part of the revitalization of the city’s downtown.

“We very much love downtown Manitowoc,” she said. “It’s growing and making great progress, and we thought it was a great location.”

A peek inside
Inside, one area of the store features a Cambria Quartz countertop display – products Jeff said he prefers due to their American-made durability.

The in-store display features a variety of samples, which Jeff said allows customers to see options on-site and get estimates.

To complement the store’s countertop offerings, the Stegemanns picked products they felt “completed a new kitchen.”

“Fun and flavorful things that are underrepresented in big stores,” Jeff said.

Meagan said they also focus on locally made products.

“(We offer) items that are from Wisconsin or as close as possible,” she said. 

Some of the products available at On the Surface, Meagan said include Manitowoc Oil & Vinegar olive oils, balsamic vinegars and essentials, such as pouring spouts, as well as dips and sauces, crackers, honey and syrups, coffee and tea, fudge, cheese, meats and Jocko Fuel drinks and supplements.

“From time to time we do different samples,” Meagan said.

On the Surface also sells Nick B’s Chimichurri, a parsley oil vinegar, which the couple describes as “an everything topper.”

The store offers a wide selection of Manitowoc Oil & Vinegar products, as well as Cambria Quartz Countertops products. Submitted Photo

“You can bake with it or cook with it,” Jeff said. “It just adds a ton of flavor to just about everything.”

Meagan said Nick B’s Chimichurri is “really popular in our house and with our family.”

She said in the true taste-before-you-buy spirit, On the Surface has a sampling bar for customers to sample the store’s oils, vinegars and chimichurri before they purchase them.

Going well
The couple – who are both Manitowoc/Two Rivers natives – said making the decision to open the downtown store has been enjoyable.

“The community has been really welcoming and it’s been a really positive experience,” Meagan said.

The transition to working together as a family, the duo said, has also been positive.

“I think it’s been great that we’re able to spend more time together,” Meagan said, adding their children, Lauren and Thomas, have been a big help.

Though they’ve only been open a short while, the Stegemanns said business has been good – excited to participate in upcoming business events, including Black Friday, Nov. 24 and Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25, as well as other special downtown events, like the Shop on 8th, which focuses on businesses located on the city’s historic 8th Street.

On the Surface is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

For a full list of products, check out On the Surface’s website at or find the store on Facebook. 

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