This summer, I’m doing a series called “Places We Love,” where I highlight some of my personal favorite spots in and around my hometown. Today, I’m so excited to share a look at one of my all time favorite places in Wooster: Spoon Market.
Spoon, a relatively new business to the Downtown Wooster (Ohio) scene, celebrates it’s fifth anniversary this June. But the Spoon family has done a lot in that short time. Spoon recently moved from it’s original location on Market Street to a bigger building on Liberty. Spoon Market takes up the first floor, which is as spacious as it is beautiful. Original hardwood floors, soaring ceilings, a meeting room with original woodwork and leaded glass windows, and a sky light that looks right up to the second floor are just a few of the first floor’s notable features.
The Excelsior Room on the second floor is for events, and the Spoon family has some exciting items on their schedule. This year’s annual Urban Adventure Challenge will hold it’s post party here, complete with food, drinks, and The Chardon Polka Band. The CPB, whose tag line is “polka with attitude, is a band that brings an incredible level of energy and fun to their shows. Mike and I have seen them twice and they never fail to get people up and dancing before too long. The event, on June 18, is open to anyone and will certainly be a fun time.
I got the chance to sit down with co-owners (and family members) Jordan, Jeff, and Patrice Smith, and general manager, Heather Popa, to talk about all things Spoon, starting with the name.
“We don’t have a really great story on the name,” Jordan said with a laugh.
“We each picked three names, ” said Patrice. “Spoon was on all our lists.”
The idea behind opening Spoon was inspired by the very things Spoon is known for today: fresh food, homemade ingredients, and community. The Smith family, long time vacationers to the Traverse City area of Michigan, were inspired by the places they ate at while on vacation.
“There are so many places like this in Northern Michigan,” said Patrice. “We wanted something like it in our hometown.” For Patrice, Jordan was the final piece of the puzzle they needed to create a place like they had visited and loved in Michigan, here in Wooster. “Jordan was key,” Patrice noted. “She had just moved back from Columbus and was young and had experience.”
Once the family decided to open their own place, the first thing they focused their energy on was – the food. “That’s the fun part,” said Jordan.
The family all had input in the sandwich creating process, each picking three that they wanted to see on the menu. You can sense the fun that the Smith family had in creating their menu. All the sandwiches are named after movies. Drinks derive their monikers from songs or lyrics. The only thing serious about the food is how good it is.
And it’s really good.
Jordan, who likes a sweet and salty combination, loves the Weird Science. Jeff’s favorite is A Fish Called Wanda (which also happens to be my fav too). Pat loves the Odd Couple. And Heather’s go-to is the Half Baked.
What stuck out to the Smith family about their favorite places in Michigan – like Lake Street Market in Boyne City and Julienne Tomatoes in Petoskey – were the homemade items and unique flavor combinations on the menu. They wanted to bring the same level of quality ingredients and homemade items to their place.
“We were hoping people would appreciate quality ingredients,” said Patrice. “We make our own breads. Our sauces and dressings are all made in here.”
When Spoon first opened it’s doors five years ago, it had 12 seats and was largely a carry-out market. It was never the family’s intention to be a sit down restaurant. They offered homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches, offered a variety of beer and wine for purchase, and housed a butcher.
“We never expected people to come and sit down to eat,” noted Patrice.
But people did. People came to eat. People came to hang out. Before long, Spoon quickly outgrew their original location. Discussions of finding a new location soon followed.
“We were on top of everything,” Jeff recalled. “When we looked at this building with space for a bigger kitchen, sit down eating area, and event center upstairs, we thought we could bring it all together.”
We said ‘Hey, let’s do it.’ -Jeff
Spoon’s new digs, a former casket and furniture store circa late 1800, allowed Spoon to not only expand in size, but also in what they offer. They’ve extended their weekend hours. A glass encased kitchen allows customers to watch bread be baked fresh daily (by another member of the Smith family, Jordan’s step brother). Special events, including live music, will soon be on their schedule.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes, though, is the full service bar that greets you when you first enter the market. Most notably, the bar will always offer four wines…on tap. The beer and wine – on tap and on the shelves for purchase – are all things you can’t find elsewhere.
As would be expected, the bar is just as beautifully constructed as everything else inside of Spoon. The counter is made from the original, 1800’s wood beams that they removed from the top floor when they remodeled it into a loft apartment, and the side is paneled with the original tin roof from the basement ceiling.
Long time customers who have enjoyed Spoon’s beer and wine tasting in the past will be glad to hear that they will once again be offered, mostly likely starting back up in July.
Jeff, the wine guy of the group, recommends Smith & Hooks Cabernet. Patricia, the group’s appointed beer person, loves the Brew Kettle White Raja or the 21st Amendment Back in Black. Jordan enjoys both beer and wine, but her pick of the moment is the Pineapple Sculpin, an IPA from Ballast Point. Heather recommends the Gran Passione, which she described as a super Tuscan.
The Spoon family is enjoying their new location, and happy they settled in downtown Wooster.
“We looked at places all over,” said Jeff. “But Spoon would have been completely different if we weren’t downtown.”
It was important to the family that they didn’t lose the original feel in the move.
“That was important to us,” said Patrice.
Jeff agreed. “We were able to replicate what we had, just on a larger scale without altering the brand. When you come in here, you don’t miss a beat.”
The Spoon family loves what they do and loves the community they serve, and it shows.
The cool thing about it is we’ve met so many friends through this experience. -Patrice
Spoon has been one of our favorite Wooster spots since the very beginning. When they opened five years ago, Mike and I were still living in a loft in downtown Wooster and just had our first son. We were sleep deprived and hungry, and loved ordering carry-out so that we could still eat a delicious meal prepared with fresh ingredients (that someone else made), in the comfort of our own home.
In the years since, Spoon has become my go to place to take my kids mid week. During the long winter months, Spoon is my saving grace. We will stop in for lunch or a snack to break up the day. I can always count on fresh coffee, and the kids never turn down a Spoon baked good. And now, I’m over the moon that I can sit in a booth with my coffee while the kids play next to me in the new play area. Spoon’s market is one of my favorite spots to find unusual grocery items to add to gift baskets. It’s also a fantastic place to take out of town guests.
As I finished up my conversation with the Smith family and Popa, Jordan walked me through the building to point out a few more features. I told her that I was so impressed with how she and her family basically created Spoon – not because they had years of restaurant experience or had a ton of business training – but because they loved good food and wanted to bring a fun and fresh environment to their home town.
Jordan smiled and nodded. “I know. I can’t believe I get to do this,” she said.
That, is it.
That is what sets Spoon apart. That is why it is such a warm and friendly environment. That is why people want to come and sit down with their friends and family to enjoy the food. Not only is the setting cool. Not only is the food delicious and homemade. Not only is it in a trendy, downtown location.
More than all that, it’s a place created by people who love what they do – and it shows.