A family business that produces sweet and savory flavored nuts
(Somerville Wire) – At farmers markets around Boston and at their Somerville store, you can buy quality, carefully crafted roasted nuts from Q’s Nuts. Made in small batches, the artisan treats come in a variety of flavors, such as Chocolate Lavender and Lemongrass. Whether you want to buy a gift for someone or enjoy a bag for your own snack, stop by Q’s for a taste of their original recipes. Owner Beth Quinn tells us why these almonds, cashews, and pecans make them so addictive.
Q’s Nuts opened in 2000 and currently has storefronts in Davis Square and the Boston Public Market. What was the inspiration to start the business?
My husband [Q] and I were working and raising our two children. We were looking for a way to earn extra income, but we wanted to create something where we would work together as a family. We felt it was important to involve children to show them the value of earning money and how to work hard to achieve goals.
Can you highlight some of your most popular offerings and describe how they are made, what ingredients go into them? Are any of them influenced by places you have visited?
I think our most popular flavors right now are Bourbon Maple Pecan, Rosemary Salted Cashew, and Chocolate Orange Cardamom. We roast in small batches, which gives a better texture and crunch to the product. All of our ingredients are high quality and sourced as locally as possible. For example, we use Taza dark chocolate and locally grown herbs. We love to eat, so we’re always on the lookout for new flavor combinations. Our coquito, for example, was inspired by someone gifting a bottle of her grandmother’s recipe for the traditional Puerto Rican cocktail. The nourishing banana flavor is based on the dessert at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans, and the lime is influenced by our travels in the Caribbean.
How did you learn to prepare roasted walnuts by hand? Did you have any cooking training? Do you use recipes passed down from other parents?
None of us have a culinary arts background and it was trial and error! We have always enjoyed the roasted nuts we found on street carts everywhere we traveled and loved the smell of the roasting product. We started experimenting with roasting after watching the vendors in the towns we went to, and had to wade through many, many pounds of nuts before we mastered the process. Most of our recipes are created by Q or myself, and it’s just about playing with the ingredients and seeing what works. It doesn’t always work and the squirrels are well fed in my garden.
What was it like having a family business? What does it mean to you to be a family business, and do you think you give your products a personal touch?
I think family businesses are amazing because you work as a collective to create something and build it together. It definitely influences the final product because it connects you as a family and the quality of what you do becomes very personal – your last name is in there! It can be difficult though: because the work is always with you, you don’t leave it in the kitchen at the end of the day. Our daughter now has her own career, but she steps in when needed and works with us on special projects, and our son is starting to run the operations of the business. I don’t see if we will ever retire, but as we slow down a bit, he will lead Q’s into the next phase of business.
Has the pandemic impacted Q’s Nuts and how are things different today?
The pandemic has affected all businesses, especially small ones. As difficult as it was, I think it really made us re-prioritize and find new ways to generate business. I think retail is just getting back to a new normal, and we’ve been very lucky to have loyal customers who have continually supported us! Of course there were supply chain issues, but luckily we were able to get most of what we needed. Business has become more of an online delivery-based model these days. I’m not sure this will change as I think people’s buying habits have been permanently changed.
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Shira Laucharoen is associate director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and associate editor and reporter for Somerville Wire.