What’s Up Wyoming and the city want to help you re-discover the pleasure of doing business here in Wyoming with local business owners who put their heart and soul into their endeavors. Each week we will bring you short profiles of local businesses in the hopes that you’ll be inspired to shop local and spur recovery in your home town while you’re taking care of your family. Here is the fifth round of business profiles:
Flowers have long been used to mark milestone occasions of everyday life, and Mary Benken of Wyoming Florist has been helping the people of Wyoming express themselves with flowers for nearly 50 years.
Mary took over the business in 1987, after her father-in-law, Herman Benken – became ill with Alzheimer’s disease. Wyoming Florist and the Benken family have a long history in Wyoming that started with a small nursery and greenhouse operation near the location of present-day Wyoming High School, which was owned by John Benken, Herman’s brother. In the late ’40s, Herman Benken left the greenhouse business after the property was sold and opened a florist just across the railroad tracks from Wyoming in Lockland. He and his young family lived above the store.
In 1951, a candy store at 502 Wyoming Avenue closed its doors and Herman Benken moved his florist business into the space, renaming it Wyoming Florist. The family then moved into a house on Springfield Pike.
As part of his involvement in the community, Herman became a volunteer with the Wyoming Fire Department and was instrumental in creating the precursor to today’s Wyoming Life Squad. “He saw a need and decided to do something about it,” says Mary Benken of her father-in-law. “This was the days before regulations and certifications. They just had a vehicle and responded when someone needed help.”
Jim and Mary were married in 1971 and immediately began working in the family business. Mary took over day-to-day operations after Herman became ill. In 2003, she purchased the building at 401 Wyoming Avenue, the shop’s current location. Although the shop is not open to walk-in business yet due to COVID-19 restrictions, customers are welcome to call for orders of flowers, or to purchase house plants, patio and hanging plants.
After years working in the investment industry with large firms, Jeroen van Leersum wanted to run his own advisory business, and working close to home was a big appeal. He has lived in Wyoming since 2017, and in 2019, he opened Wyoming Wealth Management at 504 Wyoming Avenue on the second floor.
A native of the Netherlands, van Leersum lived in England for a decade, and then moved to the U.S. He received a degree in economics from The University of Cincinnati and an MBA in finance, investments and banking from The University of Wisconsin, leading to a 25-year career in financial advice.
He has worked at Johnson Investment Counsel (+19 years), primarily in equity research and portfolio management, and at Ameriprise (+3 years) as a financial advisor. He says he feels strongly about helping others navigate the complexities of the financial world.
“My passion about all things finance has enabled me to help people achieve their financial goals, business owners improve their profits and companies enhance their retirement (401k) plans,” he says. “I not only develop financial plans for clients, but I also work closely with them to help them to achieve the various components of the plan as this greatly increases the likelihood of them achieving their financial objectives.”
His services include working with entrepreneurs and analyzing their financial statements or acting as a sounding board for business strategies or investment opportunities. He can also help young investors learn how to best take advantage of the various investment opportunities available, such as 401(k) accounts, and can work with retirement plan trustees to lower plan costs, enhance the plan offerings and increase participation/ contributions.
For more information, go to wyomingwm.com or call 513-334-7334.
After 48 years in the food industry, Dino DiStasi has done just about every job there is – from washing dishes to managing a distribution warehouse and driving delivery trucks. But running Gabby’s Café at 515 Wyoming Avenue has been the highlight of those years, and he says he never tires of serving homemade food to his loyal customers.
With 17 years in business, Gabby’s has been a Wyoming favorite for more than one generation. Some of the menu items of the American and Italian favorites at the restaurant have changed a little to meet the changing times, but the quality has remained constant due to a dedicated staff, he says.
Today, the Gabby’s still serves many of the same recipes for lunch and dinner that have made it a longstanding favorite in the region, such as homemade pizza, lasagna, burgers, sandwiches, fresh fish and homemade salads. Meals come in family size options and diners can purchase DORA cups to go. In keeping with current needs due to COVID-19 restrictions, Gabby’s offers outdoor seating, too.
For online ordering, go to gabbyswyoming.com, or for catering call 513-821-8444. DiStasi Marinara, the famous DiStasi recipe, is also available in a jarred sauce at Country Fresh Market, Wyoming Meat Market and Humbert’s Meat Market. To contact the dining room, call 513-821-6040.