New spice shop in Albany caters to a world of tastes

Courtesy Erin Scott PhotographyErica Perez and John Beaver have expanded Oaktown Spice Shop to Solano Avenue in Albany.

ALBANY –– Shoppers looking to spice up their cooking can now head to Solano Avenue. Oaktown Spice Shop opened up its second location in November at 1224 Solano Ave.

“We always liked Solano Avenue,” said Erica Perez, who co-owns the shop with her husband, John Beaver, “I think because it’s a shopping destination but it’s still neighborhood-oriented and not super out-of-reach. People who live in the area go there. It’s a nice area. Going from one end of the street to the other, there’s a lot of interesting things to do and places to stop.”

The new shop carries 600 products from 50 countries.

“There are some spices that are grown in the U.S. and in California,” Perez said. “We get a fair number of herbs here. We are getting nutmeg from Indonesia and cinnamon from Vietnam.”

Perez and Beaver opened the original Oaktown Spice Shop on Grand Avenue in Oakland in 2011.

“He has a background in the spice world,” Perez said of Beaver. “He worked for a family run spice shop many years ago in Milwaukee. When we moved to Oakland, we noticed there wasn’t a spice shop. So being in a food-oriented community, we thought that would be a good idea.”

The new shop held a grand opening party on Dec. 10. Perez said traffic has been good so far with “several hundred” people coming to the party. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with Albany officials, champagne was poured, snacks served and a raffle held with prizes of gift certificates for local shops.

Opening late in the year was a good thing as well, according to Perez.

“It’s a great time,” she said. “It’s definitely the peak spice buying time. Everybody is buying spices for their holiday meals but also spice gifts.”

A proper spice shop offers up a level of freshness not available at a normal store. Perez said the shop grinds the spices on site.

“It makes them fresher,” she said. “The flavor of the ground cinnamon that you get from us is really different from the store-bought cinnamon and it’s because it’s so fresh.”

She added, ‘The majority of our business is to individuals. They are just home cooks looking to make dinner more exciting. We have people who are much more experienced cooks who are looking for specific things. And a portion of our business is bars, restaurants, etc.”

Beaver grew up in Milwaukee and Perez in Los Angeles. When Beaver was a teenager, he

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle

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