There’s a spicy new look on Spring Street. Just added to the street’s popular mix of stores, businesses, and restaurants is the Savory Spice Shop, which opened November 21.
“I wanted to open the shop in Princeton, and Spring Street was my favorite space of all that we saw,” says owner Jon Hauge.
Formerly in the corporate world, Mr. Hauge worked in the purchasing department of a building products company. When he had an opportunity for a career change, he knew he wanted something related to cooking. “Several years ago, I went to visit a spice shop in downtown Denver. I’ve been an avid cook. I always loved to cook, and I was very interested in all the spices.”
When he learned there was a franchise opportunity with the Denver-headquartered Savory Spice Shop, and that it could be independently-owned, he decided to make the move.
“There are 14 Savory Spice Shops in the U.S. and only one other in New Jersey, in Westfield,” he notes. “I always thought it would be great to have my own business, and my background in purchasing has been helpful.”
What especially appealed to Mr. Hauge about the Savory Spice Shop operation was the freshness of the spices, the attention to high quality items, and the focus on customer service. “Savory Spice Shop is built on the principles of providing you with innovative, high quality products and excellent customer service. The spices are ground weekly, and we get them delivered fresh every week. We have a range of common to exotic herbs and spices and more than 140 blends. There are also baking extracts, organic spices, hard-to-find spices, and more.
“Also,” he continues, “I want people to understand that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve the quality of what you eat. The addition of spices and seasonings can make a big difference, and we are happy to offer advice to people. We also have lots of recipes to share.”
The array of fresh spices includes traditional cinnamons, curries, salt and pepper, to exotic herbs and spices, such as grains of paradise, saffron, kaffir lime leaves, pomegranate molasses, achiote paste, and other specialties. There are signature seasonings, barbecue rubs, chicken and seafood blend options, dip and dressing mixes, salt-free seasonings, chili powders, and other flavorful mixing spices.
The visually appealing shop is conveniently arranged for browsing and buying. “We set up according to category, color, and appearance,” reports Mr. Hauge.
Enticing the senses is important in a shop like this, and every effort has been made to tempt the taste buds. Aromatic mulling spices are available to sample in hot libations, cinnamon rolls and dips have been offered, as well as freshly made popcorn.
“We have a popcorn popper and have popcorn with truffle salt for people to try,” says Mr. Hauge. “We also have a wonderful coffee-based blend, Baker’s Brew, to use for a barbecue rub, and a great cheddar cheese dip with a baked smoky flavor.”
There are so many treats in store: cinnamon sticks, Mayan cocoa, Mexican cocoa, Dutch cocoa powder, Chai spices, pizza and pasta pairings — and so much more.
Special advice is offered with cards featuring “Top 5 Spices for Pork”, “Top 5 for Seafood”, and “Top 5 for Steak”, and recipe cards are available for people to take home.
Mr. Hauge is very pleased with the number of customers coming in and calling as well. “People have been coming in from the beginning, and now they’re calling too. They want specific spices. One person called asking for sumac, a middle eastern spice — which we do carry.”
Related items, such as pepper mills and mortar and pestle sets are also available, and Mr. Hague points out that the spices, including a variety of gift sets, and the other products make excellent housewarming, hostess, holiday, and teacher gifts. In addition, there are fun seasonal items, such as small sachets of frankincense and myrrh, suitable for incense-burning.
“We can customize a gift set, and there are also tubes filled with different spices for $5, a terrific stocking stuffer and a way for someone to explore a new spice and flavor. We have a big price range, from $2 up to $50, and everything in between. Right now, if you buy five or more gift sets, you will get 15 percent off the price. Gift cards are available too. Spices are available in resealable plastic bags, small 2-and 4-ounce glass jars, and 8-ounce plastic bottles.”
Mr. Hauge is happy to be in Princeton, and is already taking part in community activities. “I am teaching classes in spices at the Adult School, both now and in the spring.”
The enthusiasm, both of students in the classes and customers at the store, has been especially pleasing to him. He has also been warmly welcomed by the other merchants.
“I’m doing this because I love doing this, and I want people to have the same experience,” he says. “I like talking to customers and sharing information about spices. I often learn from people too, who have traveled and know about different spices. They like to share their recipes. And it is particularly nice that customers seem to enjoy talking to each other about spices in the shop.
“I felt that Princeton would be a great match for my shop. I knew that people here appreciate food and wine and dining experiences. I hoped to build a good solid customer base, and I think I’m off to a great start!”
He is happy, too, that his family has been part of this new adventure. “It’s really like a family business. My wife, Janet, who is a librarian at the Princeton Public Library, and my son Alex and daughter Olivia all help out.”
Savory Spice Shop is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 454-5627. savoryspiceshop.com.