Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cayenne (Kitchen) is Hot!

I was digging though my Left Hand Valley Courier articles to see if I'd missed reposting any food related ones, and I was surprised that I hadn't grabbed this one from my Vicinity and Beyond column in the November 2008 edition. It's not very relevant to people outside the local area, but Cayenne Kitchen is my favorite shop in town, so I have to include it here.

Besides being a great place for me to shop, I think it's also great for the town. And the owners are just plain nice people.

I was at the store on opening day to write this original piece, and I was there for the grand reopening and ribbon cutting on August 1, 2009, when the store moved out of the little house that was overflowing with great products and into a spacious new storefront on Main Street.

Vicinity and Beyond: Cayenne Is Hot

It’s not often that a new store in Vicinity (in this case, Longmont) will generate a lot of pre-opening buzz. But with Cayenne Kitchen, I was hearing rumors about it well before the shelves were stocked.

People were peeking in windows and whispering about the store that was opening “over by Lucille’s.” Rumors were flying and anxious shoppers were driving around looking for the new store.

And with good reason. Cayenne Kitchen fills a niche that previously required a drive to Boulder or beyond. Cayenne is the hot new store for people who like to cook or entertain, or for those who just like decorating their kitchens with really cool gadgets.

And where else in Vicinity can you buy CIA tools? No, I’m not talking about spy gear; I’m talking about cooking tools with the Culinary Institute of America brand. You won’t find those in the supermarket gadget section.

Besides CIA tools, Cayenne carries Mario Batali cookware, Ken Onion knives by Shun, Kyocera peelers, Nielsen-Massey vanilla and lots more. If those names mean nothing to you, suffice it to say that you’d have a hard time finding a low-quality item in the store.

And it’s fun to shop. Since the store is in what used to be a house, you move from room to room, each one with a new array of cooking gear and goodies to look at. And no space is wasted. What used to be a closet is home to cookbooks and a few other items, and even the bathroom has shelves with soaps and lotions.

After I perused the selections, I had to focus on price. This is where many small shops fall short, but not Cayenne. Unlike boutique stores where you pay extra for the shopping experience, the prices at Cayenne were about the same as I’d seen online for the same products – and no shipping or waiting for that bottle of vanilla to arrive.

Having passed the tests for selection, quality and price, the buzz about Cayenne continues. People are dragging friends and neighbors into the store and emailing everyone they know about this new shop with the spicy name.

Terry Nichols, who owns Cayenne with her husband, Bill, said that the store will stock things that are functional as well as “gifty” items. When asked what her favorite thing in the store was, she said, “It’s the foods.”

Indeed, there is an eclectic selection of food products including mixes for cakes, cornbread and dips along with sugars and spices, clam juice and chowder, and interesting snacks.

Nichols said that she and her husband had always wanted to own a kitchen store, and when he retired from his 20-year stint as an air traffic controller, they looked into the possibilities. “We went to the home show in Chicago in March, and that was it,” she said.

But it’s far from “it.” Nichols said that Cayenne will special-order items for customers, and given the seasonal items in stock now, this is the sort of place that will surely have more new and interesting items to look at as time goes on.