Open for Business: Local sisters turned business partners prepare to wrap up baking season

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TREMONT, Ill. (WMBD) — With a job like making cookies most days, it’s not too hard for Terry Kallmbah and Peggy Serpette to bring smiles to their Central Illinois customers.

Kallmbah, who affectionately goes by “Nana,” and her little sister, Serpette, who also goes by “Gramma,” are the co-owners of Gramma Nana’s Kitchen. In 2015, the siblings opened the traveling cookie shop based out of Tremont. They credit their mother for inspiration.

“Our mother used to bake cookies, especially at Christmas time, I mean 15-16 different kinds of cookies. And so we — growing up — thought everybody’s mother did that,” said Serpette.

“We always had cookies in the house. Even when there was no money in the house, we were scrounging up something to make cookies out of.”

terry kallmbah

The duo started Gramma Nana’s Kitchen with a trailer, using Serpette’s summer kitchen as a place for commissary, per health department requirements. The two juggle the business operations with Serpette working full-time and Kallmbah, a full-time mother to two younger children. They’re continuously amazed at the community support they’ve received.

Serpette said, “We were very excited that we made, what, maybe $10,000 the first year? We thought this is going to be great and it has just exploded since then.”

Kallmbah said because the business broke even last year, they decided to expand by adding a truck.

“And then COVID hit and everything got canceled,” said Kallmbah. “And of course there was a minute of ‘Oh my God, we just went so much deeper in debt for this.’”

The two turned to more local, intimate events to bring in a profit, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The [customers] that would come and just say, ‘We’re so glad that there’s someplace to go and something to do’ because everybody was—you know in the spring, they were so bored,” Serpette laughed.

With the support of family, friends, and community members, they’ve been able to pick up some steam.

Kallmbah said, “It’s been just amazing—the outpouring.”

In the future, the two are hoping for larger-scale events to pick back up. They even hope to bring their grandkids on board to help out.

Gramma Nana’s Kitchen will be open through Oct. 17 and then closed for the season.

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