Shorty’s Kitchen now offering cooking classes


Shorty’s Kitchen, located at 14471 De La Tour Drive in South Beloit, is starting 2024 by offering a new service piquing the interest of many people in the area- Shorty will now offer cooking classes on Saturday afternoons. 

Those who register and attend the Saturday classes will bring home a recipe card and a sample of the dish or dishes made. Each class will cost between $35 - $65, depending on the menu, and will accommodate six to eight people. The cooking classes will teach meals not on the regular daily menu Monday through Friday. 

The first class, teaching how to make Shorty’s famous homemade chicken noodle soup, will be held on Saturday, January 13, and is full. 

You can stop by the diner Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. to register for the next class on January 20, Homemade Breads, which will feature homemade giant bread pretzels with beer cheese pretzel sauce. 

The last Saturday in January, January 27, will be the Main Course and Dinner Sides class - to learn how to make Shorty’s show-stopping homemade fajitas with a side of street corn. 

For Valentines Day, Shorty's Kitchen and SAL’S SLOTS are offering a Romantic Couples Charcuterie Cooking Class on Saturday Feb.10th from 1:00-3:00pm for $150/couple.  Must be 21 to sign up.

Class includes:* 2 hour Charcuterie Tutorial* Valentines Day Cocktail Tutorial * Charcuterie Board to take home* Complimentary Cocktail or Wine * Box of Chocolate Covered Strawberries Everyone must register and prepay by Feb. 3rd so Shorty can order the charcuterie boards ahead of time.

They have a kids class coming up for Easter: egg coloring and cookie decorating.

Shorty says that just as with her regular menu items, her class’s menus will focus on home-cooked food made from scratch and teach the shortcuts to prepare it in an hour.

Rockton resident Melissa Gamer has an extensive background in the hospitality industry. She was single-handedly running a restaurant kitchen by the age of 18, proving that the old adage, “Good things come in small packages” is accurate. She was first dubbed ‘Shorty’ (due to her shorter stature) by older customers when she was a young waitress and bartender, and it's a nickname that has stuck ever since. 

Her love for cooking, on the other hand, long predates her nickname. Raised in Northern Wisconsin and coming from a country farm family, Shorty says, “My earliest memories are from when I was four or five helping in the kitchen; I learned very early on that if I helped my Mom with the cooking, I didn't have to do the dishes, my two older sisters would have to do that. And I loved cooking. It was just something I always had a passion for.” 

The idea to open her own diner came after her family told her they couldn't keep up with how much food she could prepare. She says, “They told me I needed to open my own business, and I thought, well, there's an idea.” After many years of managing other restaurant kitchens, Shorty’s Kitchen opened in January 2020. Shorty’s mission is to provide the area with homemade fast food. 

Two months after her opening, the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic lockdown began, which Shorty says was challenging to navigate as a new small business owner. “It was hard at first. The dining room had to close for a year and a half. I was the only store open in this strip mall.”

Despite many difficulties, Shorty persevered. She used Facebook as a way to market her business by posting pictures of her homemade menu items. She stayed open throughout the lockdown offering takeout and curbside pickup orders. She also extended her menu to include take-and-bake meals, and to help bring in more customers, organized car and craft shows outdoors, so people could safely social distance, and offered a limited menu during the events. 

When the lockdown lifted, she reopened her dining room and began to collaborate with neighboring businesses, such as Sal’s Slots and Jenny’s Slots. Both businesses allow you to enjoy Shorty’s meals in their establishments, and Shorty will even walk your order over to you!

Over the last few years, Shorty’s Kitchen has earned a 5-star rating from reviewers and gained many loyal customers who refer to the diner as a local 'hidden gem.'

Shorty, who always shops locally and is a self-described hardcore supporter of small businesses, appreciates everyone who supports her. “My customers are my family,” she says. 

Shorty mentions that offering cooking classes is just the beginning. Her future goals include cooking classes for kids, canning, gardening, how to make your own spices, and even charcuterie board classes. 

To stay updated on all of Shorty’s classes and upcoming events, and to view her photo gallery of delicious homemade meals and desserts, be sure and follow her on Facebook, or call 815-957-0540, or stop in to order your next lunch or dinner and chat with Shorty Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. 

Shorty (Melissa Gamer) still single-handedly runs a restaurant kitchen, except now it's her own. 

Tap, click, or swipe on the photo below to view an image gallery from the restaurant.

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