TNT Diner

Good eats and drinks around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

Coming to Sixth Ave: A spice store and tea shop

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on Jan. 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm | No Comments »
January 16, 2013 3:40 pm

SPICESA spice and herb store that also will serve tea and coffee will open on Sixth Avenue. Ubiquitous Journey plans a Jan. 24 opening and will operate in the storefront formerly occupied until two months ago by Caffe Dei, a combination coffeehouse-cafe that catered to vegetarians and vegans.

Ubiquitous Journey will be owned and operated by Robyn Liss, who opened the Ubiquitous Journey spice and tea store in October 2008 in Puyallup’s South Hill neighborhood. Liss said by phone her new Tacoma store will be an extension of the Puyallup store, which will remain open. How long the Puyallup store continues is something Liss does not yet know. She is guessing she might experience a drop in South Hill business as some of her Tacoma customers switch to buying at the Tacoma store. If business remains steady and she gets a deal on her rent during her next lease negotiation, she said she’ll stay put in Puyallup.

Ubiquitous Journey specializes in bulk sales of seasonings, salts, herbs and spices, custom blends and loose tea sales. Think of the Puyallup store as a spice and herb store on a smaller scale, but similar to Anne Buck’s spice store in Olympia –  Buck’s Fifth Avenue. Buck’s store is arguably the best stocked spice and herb retail store devoted to home cooks in the South Sound region. Buck sells hundreds of spices, seasonings and herbs from around the globe and sells in quantities as small as a teaspoon. She has operated her downtown Olympia store since 1973.

While Buck concentrates on the culinary aspect of spices and herbs, Liss has a focus aimed at those shopping for tea, spices and herbs for health benefits. She employs Kerri Bailey, a certified herbalist who also holds a bachelor’s degree in biology. Liss has studied herbs herself, although she is not certified.  Another employee is Donna Bennett.

Expect Ubiquitous Journey in Tacoma to look much like the Puyallup store, with a selection of herbs, spices and loose teas for sale in just about any quantity, but the business will expand slightly in the Tacoma location. Like its predecessor Caffe Dei, Ubiquitous Journey Tacoma intends to operate a small cafe, which – like Caffe Dei- will cater to vegetarians.“We won’t be 100 percent vegan, we will be vegetarian. We’ll have dairy, but no meat and eggs. We’ll hopefully still appease the customers who were Caffe Dei’s customers as well,”  said Liss. She expects to begin with a menu of soups and sandwiches. She may expand that later.  She won’t serve raw foods like Caffe Dei.

Future plans include an aromatherapy bar.

Ubiquitous Journey also will serve coffee and tea brewed-to-order. For fans of Caffe Dei’s coffee, Liss plans to keep most of the coffee menu, but jokes that she’s having a difficult time executing the foamed designs that Caffe Dei owners Shuanna Holt and Shane Siegfried had perfected in their espresso.

Staff herbalist Kerri Bailey will work at both stores. Said Bailey, “I have blends that I’ll make up for people that are generic for anyone, but what sets me apart is I like to make some things custom. … My new things are powdered herbal blends you can put into smoothies. For those who don’t want to do that, I can encapsulate them, as well.”

Liss said she made few changes to the setup inside the 1,400  square feet Tacoma store that has a small kitchen and one bathroom. She’s keeping Caffe Dei’s bathroom artwork intact.  “It’s funny, the first thing people ask is, ‘Are you painting the bathroom?’ I would never paint out over that,” said Liss. Her description: “It’s painted all four walls in an almost psychedelic mural, really bright colors and eyeballs.”

Ubiquitous Journey
Tacoma location: 2607 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Opening: Jan. 24
Puyallup store: 15011 Meridian Ave. E., Puyallup, 253-445-6128 or ubiquitousjourney.com

Buck’s Fifth Avenue
Where: 209 Fifth Ave. S.E., Olympia
Info: 360-352-9301 or culinaryexotica.com

*
The News Tribune now uses Facebook commenting on selected blogs. See editor's column for more details. Commenters are expected to abide by terms of service for Facebook as well as commenting rules for thenewstribune.com. Report violators to webmaster@thenewstribune.com.