MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the first time after his accidental death, Jim Kowalski’s family is talking publicly.

Last month, the founder of the popular local grocery died from a head injury while on a fishing trip in Alaska.

After a tough month for the family, Kowalski’s wife, Mary Anne Kowalski, and daughter Kris Kowalski Christensen celebrated 30 years of business Saturday by making the rounds at their area stores, which treated customers to food, drinks, and music.

Kowalski’s owner Mary Anne Kowalski said the support she’s felt has been overwhelming,

“Customers come up today and say, ‘You feel like family, so I’m sad but I’m happy for you,’” Kowalski said. “Those kinds of comments, you know, it’s really, it’s phenomenal.”

Kris Kowalski Christensen, COO of Kowalski’s, said it was a powerful day.

“It’s really about honoring and celebrating our employees and our customers, because that’s how it all happens. And then the obvious is to honor my dad and his memory, so it’s a bittersweet day,” Kowalski Christensen said.

The Kowalskis say business is good, and they are on track for another 30-plus years of business.