It’s been ten years since De Stewart opened his first Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices
stand at Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, making his signature herb and spice mixes available to the public. The business would later expand east and south to Jungle Jim’s International Market
in Eastgate (Cincinnati) and Friendly Market
Fast forward to present, as the man affectionately known around Northern Kentucky as The Colonel moves his headquarters and yet another location to the Fort Thomas central business district.
Colonel De learned about cooking the way most do – watching his mother work in their kitchen as a child. Years later, after developing his own signature mixes, rubs and marinades, Stewart became a regional celebrity. After his booth at Findlay Market opened in 2006, he quickly outgrew the space and the demand for his product has not slowed since.
Colonel De Stewart
“Each store has it’s own uniqueness and charm,” Stewart says, “But beyond that the Jungle Jim’s location is a complete retail store layout while Findlay and Friendly are market stands. They are both in what is referred to as public market space. This means there are no full walls between each vendor.”
The new Fort Thomas location is different than the others.
Stewart produces everything he sells, a line that includes barbecue sauces, marinades and dry spices. He had been looking for a new location for his production facility for over a year when Fort Thomas developer Dan Gorman approached him about taking over space in the Hiland Building at 18 North Fort Thomas Avenue.
“We started with 2,300 square feet for our retail, cooking classroom and production center,” says Stewart. “We followed that up with 975 square feet for our office space, and now we have 1,000 square feet for our warehouse facility. We are all over this one building.”
In addition to purchasing Colonel De’s products at the new store, you can feel a part of their production.
He explains, “Shoppers can expect a fun and educational experience. You can watch products being made through our huge glass windows that overlook the actual production part of the store.”
Kameron Starek works in the front end of Colonel De’s Fort Thomas store and has been with the company for about a year and a half. He says the business stands alone among its peers. Most importantly, the spices are always fresh and stock moves quickly out of the shop, rather than being stored in a warehouse somewhere. Also, there is a family atmosphere among customers and staff. He mentions that Stewart and his employees even share family-style meals and cook together regularly in the company kitchen.
Like other Colonel De employees, Starek is happy to make recommendations for customers. Unless you choose a very specific blend, he says everyone uses spice differently and that’s part of the fun.
“The great thing about spice is that it’s really up to your discretion and there aren’t a lot of rules,” says Starek.
A cook himself, Starek’s favorite Colonel De’s product is Colonel’s Chipotle Spice, which he uses for everything from eggs to tuna salad. He says one of their most popular spice mixes is Ole Bourbon Trail, which runs $2.74 per ounce and is a perfect rub for grilling steak, chicken and pork chops.
The new Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 12-4 p.m. There is free one-hour parking available on the street just outside Colonel De’s and plenty of other things to see within walking distance.
Two doors up from Colonel De’s, Top This Donut Bar
offers made-to-order cake donuts and ice cream sundaes. Across the street, 15 North
offers wood fired oven pizza and an open, welcoming patio dining space. A block further up the street is Fort Thomas Coffee
, a full-service coffee shop that just celebrated its four-year anniversary in the neighborhood.
Stewart is happy to be a part of the energy in Fort Thomas these days.
“There are a lot of exciting things going on in our little two block area,” he says, “The Hiland is nearly full and there is great retail going on up and down the street. This area has come alive again and it’s exciting to see.”