A family owned business that produces sweet and savory flavored nuts
(Somerville Wire) – At farmers’ markets around Boston and at their Somerville shop, you can pick up roasted nuts, made with quality and care, from Q’s Nuts. Made in small batches, the handcrafted treats come in a variety of flavors, such as chocolate lavender and lemongrass. Whether you’d like to purchase a gift for someone or enjoy a bag for your own snacking, stop by Q’s to get a taste of their original recipes. Owner Beth Quinn tells us what it is about these almonds, cashews, and pecans that makes them so addictive.
Q’s Nuts opened in 2000 and currently has storefronts in Davis Square and at the Boston Public Market. What was the inspiration for starting the business?
My husband [Q] and I were both working and raising our two children. We were looking for a way to earn some extra income but wanted to create something where we would work together as a family. We felt it was important to involve the kids 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 some of them influenced by places you have visited?
I think that right now our most popular flavors are maple bourbon pecans, rosemary sea salted cashews, 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 are sourced as locally as possible. For instance, we use Taza dark chocolate and locally grown herbs. We love to eat, so we are always on the lookout for new flavor combinations. Our coquito, for instance, was inspired by someone gifting a bottle of his grandmother’s recipe for the traditional Puerto Rican cocktail. The banana foster flavor is based on the dessert at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans, and the key lime is influenced by our Caribbean travels.
How did you learn how to prepare, artisan, roasted nuts? Did you have a background in cooking? Do you use recipes that have been passed down from other relatives?
Neither of us has a background in culinary arts and it was trial and error! We always enjoyed the roasted nuts we found on the street carts wherever we traveled and loved the smell of the roasting product. We started experimenting with roasting after watching the vendors in the cities we went to, and we had to go through many, many pounds of nuts before we mastered the process. Most of our recipes are created by Q or myself, and it is simply playing with ingredients and seeing what works. It doesn’t always work out, and the squirrels are well fed in my backyard.
What has it been like to have a family-owned business? What does it mean to you to be family-owned, and do you believe you give your products a personal touch?
I think family-owned businesses are amazing because you work as a collective towards creating something and building it together. It definitely influences the end product because it connects you as a family, and the quality of what you are doing becomes very personal—it has your family name on it! It can be difficult, though: as work is always with you, you don’t leave it at the kitchen at the end of the day. Our daughter has her own career now, but she steps in to help when needed and works with us on special projects, and our son is starting to lead the operations of the company. I can’t see that we will ever retire, but as we slow down a bit, he will lead Q’s into the next phase of business.
Did the pandemic impact Q’s Nuts at all, and how are things different today?
The pandemic impacted all businesses, especially small ones. As hard as it was, I think it really made us reprioritize our operations and figure out new ways to generate business. I think that the retail aspect is just getting back to a new normal, and we were very fortunate to have loyal customers who continually reached out to support us! There have, of course, been supply chain challenges, but thankfully, we have been able to get most of what we need. Business has become more of an online/delivery based model these days. I am not sure that will change because I think people’s shopping habits have been altered permanently.
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.