Restaurant Notes: Fort Wayne woman taking her Fresco Spice Blends nationwide with Meijer

Sheila Capito of Fort Wayne has taken her Fresco Spice Blends national by getting a selection of them into Meijer stores. (Photo courtesy of Sheila Capito)
Meijer stores nationwide are stocking four to seven different all-natural Fresco Spice Blends products. (Photo courtesy of Sheila Capito)
Mad Anthony Brewing Company won gold for its Auburn Lager at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. From left are Charlie Papazian, founder of the Brewers Association and Great American Beer Festival; Neil Davey, sales at Mad Anthony Brewing Company; Joell Stuckey, Mad Anthony Brewing Company; and Blaine Stuckey, co-owner of Mad Anthony Brewing Company. (Photo © 2017 Jason E. Kaplan)

What started as a hobby has turned into a growing business for Fort Wayne’s Sheila Capito.

Capito created a blend of Italian spices for a friend a few years ago that Meijer customers nationwide now can buy.

Some of her Fresco Spice Blends, including her first effort – Penney’s Little Italy – are on the shelves, ready to spice up customers’ dishes.

“We’re about making life easier with flavor,” Capito said. Her blends are all natural without preservatives or added colors. Not only can they be added to dishes, but customers can sprinkle them on popcorn or throw them into sour cream for a dip, she said.

She’s cooked for years, so when a friend ran out of a blend of spices that she had brought back from Italy and she couldn’t find anything similar, Capito decided to try to create a substitute. She succeeded in finding the right mixture to please her friend.

The Wayne High School graduate, who comes from a beautician background, found that she enjoyed blending spices. Six years ago she decided to sell some in Roanoke. Then when Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market started five years ago at Parkview Field she moved there, where she’s been a staple ever since at the Saturday morning event, which moves to Barr Street during the summer. She also has sold a Carmel market.

What’s really given her a boost is a membership in Indiana Grown, a network for Hoosier producers that highlights their goods.

She got her products into some boutiques and started a website when she decided to send an email to Meijer to see if it would sell her blends. The company sent her an email that it was interested.

“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” she said. She thought maybe at most Meijer would carry her blends in 30-some area stores.

“They said, ‘Well, we decided to have it in all our stores.’ Then I got nervous.”

Until then she and her family had hand-packed every container of the blends. Now they would be providing products for 237 Meijer stores. So, she found an Indianapolis packager. All Meijer stores carry four of her blends: Penney’s Little Italy, Signature Blend, Coffee Steak Rub and Chili Lime Chipotle. A few carry an extra three: Flat Iron, Spicy Thai and California Fresh. The latter two are salt-free. Because the blends don’t have silicone dioxide to prevent clumping, customers might have to give the tins, which sell for $8 each, a little shake.

One thing Capito won’t be shaking is her time at farmers markets. That’s where she gets to hear from her customers, who are a variety of ages as people try diets and look to eat healthier amid the artisan food movement, she said. She listens to how they use the products.

“I really love what I do,” she said.

For recipes and information about Fresco Spice Blends’ products, see www.frescospiceblends.com.

WE’LL DRINK TO THAT

Mad Anthony Brewing Company won gold for its Auburn Lager at Thursday-Saturday’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Presented by the Brewers Association, the festival is the largest commercial beer competition in the world, according to a news release. More than 8,000 entries were received in 98 beer-style categories.

Mad Anthony, 2002 Broadway, won in the American-Style Amber Lager category. The business was started by friends Blaine Stuckey and Todd Grantham who were joined by Jeff Neels, another friend, in 1998, and the trio bought the former Munchie Emporium. The first batch of beer to be put on tap was in 1998; and in 2001 the production brewery opened on Taylor Street, next to the old Munchie Emporium. Mad Anthony brews more than 2,500 barrels of beer annually from the tanks on site, according to its website.

OKTOBERFEST AT DEER PARK

Deer Park Irish Pub at Spring Street and Leesburg Road is celebrating fall with a family-friendly Oktoberfest on Saturday. At 1 p.m. the heated tent will open to patrons. Children will have a chance to win prizes during the pretzel toss at 2 p.m., and the Allen County SPCA will take the stage at 3 p.m. to host Fort Wayne’s finest German dogs in the Best of Show contest. A Sam Adams stein-hoisting contest begins at 4 p.m., followed at 5 p.m. by polka dancing with the Tanzer Children’s dance troupe. Jammin’ German Band takes the Deer Park stage at 6 p.m. and, finally, a beer stein race starts at 10 p.m.

Bratwurst, hot dogs and German potato salad will be offered. Root beer for children will be available along with plenty of pints of Oktoberfest signature craft beers for the adults.

Parking will be available at the University of Saint Francis across the street. All events are free and open to the public.

CHEERS!

Three Rivers Distilling Co., 224 E. Wallace St., has received its Indiana Artisan Distiller’s permit. It now can sell its spirits on premises. Its Executive Lounge and Distillery will be open during normal production hours before its tasting room opens. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.

NO CUBE

The CUBE lunches for sale and prepared by Anthis Career Academy’s culinary arts students will not be offered this week or next because of student projects. They will return Oct. 24.

Have restaurant news? Call Lisa M. Esquivel Long at 461-8244 or send email to notes@news-sentinel.com or write Restaurant Notes, C/O The News-Sentinel, PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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