Working Together Couples in Business: Karen and Ken Bryan

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Karen and Ken Bryan are the owners of Making Thyme Kitchen. They’ve been in business together for 10 years.

photography by Two Eagles Marcus

Half of their “thyme” together has been in business, and Karen and Ken couldn’t be happier. They’re peppy and positive, and simply eager to share their delicious home-made food at their business in The Downtown Market. They resource local and provide food with a variety of ethnic origins. Twenty years of marriage has helped them establish an effective method of going the distance for Making Thyme Kitchen at their own speed for an optimal (and enjoyable!) journey. 

Where do you go when you “quit working?”

Karen: To really get a break we have to leave town. We have family close by, so going to Hudsonville or Lowell gets us out of our routine. And when we can we get up to Suttons Bay.

Ken: To sleep.

Did you discover a most unexpected challenge in working together?

Ken: Yes, that we are both “right.”

Do you intentionally separate your business from your personal life?

Karen: We would love to! But we are a micro business and it’s virtually impossible at this point. The one thing we do is have dinner together every night, at the table. This is our time.

Ken: We try to without much success!

How do you settle disagreements?

Karen: You have to pick your battles carefully; everything isn’t a big deal. So you learn to let go when it isn’t really that important, and you learn to say, “this really matters to me” and respect when the other person says it. You also have to realize that everyone has good and bad days, and life throws you curves, so you have to be willing to ask for help or pick up the slack. And sometimes you just have to hash it out, give yourself permission to do it messy, so you can come to a new understanding and go another day.

What are the two most important qualities to embody when running a business with your partner?

Karen: Share a common goal, and be best friends.

Ken: Have a role and stick to it. And, be able to leave crap at the door.

Making Thyme Kitchen
435 Ionia SW, Grand Rapids

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