Don’t be afraid of spices – the Naperville shop caters to everything from beginners to gourmets


Business: Spice house

Address: 15 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville

Phone/Website: 630-566-2286,

District Manager: Celeste Southard, 56, of Chicago

Years in business; Opened November 2022.

What does your business do? “We’re the creators of spices and seasonings. … We’re very approachable to the most seasoned Michelin chefs who are just starting their cooking journey with all kinds of culinary confidence. Whatever kind of food you’re making,” Southard said.

What is the background? We were founded in Wisconsin in 1957 by Bill and Ruth Penzi. … In 2018, the family is very retired and we had two investors who are very excited about who we are and what we stand for. Dave Grossman and Daniel Yates are the new owners.

Where are your other locations? “Old Town Neighborhoods in Chicago, Evanston, and the Milwaukee Public Market.”

Celeste Southard is the district manager for The Spice House, which has stores in Naperville, Chicago, Evanston and Milwaukee.

What sets Spice House apart? “We have our own mix of founders who have been started by former employees[and]our top sellers. … Our VP of Product, Alex Wilkens, has been with the company for a long time. He started in the stores, worked with the previous owners. Alex and the team always have different ideas that we can introduce to our customers, They want different mixes, different plant trends.

What are some of these? “Our best seller is back yards. It’s a roasting mix. It was basically built like a butcher but it goes on everything. It is beautiful on meat, very good on vegetables. … The gate to the north is another. It is sweeter and sweeter. It can be used on meat and vegetables. Lake Shore Drive is another.

Do you sell online? “Online is a big part of our business. … We’ve gotten a lot of recognition during the pandemic when people are at home and trying to cook.

Tell us more about how the pandemic has affected business. “It introduced people who weren’t so focused on quality and experimentation (cooking). …Anything related to cooking became increasingly common when people had nothing else to do. … When you cook for yourself, you pay more attention to quality and taste.

Before 2021, stores were grinding and mixing and packaging their own products. We will no longer be. We decided that it made more sense after everyone experienced the outbreak – efficiency-wise, security-wise and consistency-wise – under one roof. We now have our production and fulfillment center in Elk Grove Village. … It allows our teams in stores more time to communicate. It was great.

“We started The Spice Bar a year and a half ago. Once a month we collect the four spices and our customers can taste a sample. Our spice merchants walk through its history, what to combine with it, how to cook, how to use it. …it’s really fun.

what is new? “Devilish Dill Egg Seasoning. It’s in a new category for us as a shared table collaboration with Lisa Steele. We learned about her and her focus on chicken and eggs. We now produce this new blend and it’s doing very well in stores.”

Nadine Bushre, assistant manager of The Spice House in downtown Naperville, prepared a sample for customers to try.

What about pricing? “Typically $7.99 to $12.99 (per pack or bottle). We don’t have overproduction so we keep it fresh.

How did you get all these unusual spices? “Our founding family loved to travel and that brings them here. … We work with the same farmers all over the world for years and years.

Why downtown Naperville? “Naperville is a beautiful community. It has a great history and other great retailers and sellers. … It’s a perfect partnership.

What do you like the most? “When customers come in and they’re really excited and want to know and share what they’ve done and who they’ve created it for.”

Are there negatives? “There are literally no negatives. … I wish we were open 24 hours.”

When is it busy? Summer, when people grill, picnic. … Then we go into November and December, holiday cooking, bringing families together.

What misconceptions do people have? “That there is nothing for everyone. he said. … It can be intimidating, but we have a diverse team that can work with any level of client.

What advice do you have for someone starting a business? “Believe in it and love it.”

If you know of a business you’d like to see profiled in Down to Business, contact Steve Metsch at

Steve Metsch is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

According to assistant manager Nadine Bushre, more than 360 spices and blends are available at Spice House.  Pre-wrapped gift boxes sell for $40 to $96 at the Naperville store, or you can make your own, she said.


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