For quite a few people on the Mid-Shore, particularly those with a foodie interest, there was some hope that the new Test Kitchen that replaced the Easton Market Square would be a new contribution to the region’s increasingly impressive food scene. And one of those was the Spy. So, when it turned out that this facility would not be open to the public nor serve food, it generated several questions.
In short, why would a business that was not dependent on local consumers and who sold kitchen equipment for commercial restaurants and other large institutions decide to locate in the heart of a downtown rather than find a presumably lower-cost option in some industrial park nearby?
To answer those questions, the Spy arranged an interview with Jamie and Patti Curren, owners of the Test Kitchen and Spurry-Curren & Associates, along with their executive chef and one of the Mid-Shore favorite foodies, Jordan Lloyd, to get some answers. And their answers were both fascinating and compelling.
This husband and wife team, who purchased the Easton-based Spurry-Curren a few years ago from founder Chris Spurry, turns out to have close to 20 years of experience in the food industry. Meeting as recent college graduates (Jamie from Washington College and Patti from McDaniel) who worked in the Easton coffee bar just out of school, they quickly moved over to the commercial equipment side of the business. Instead of catering to mom and pop restaurants, their jobs focused on the needs of large food producers that were more likely to serve 2,000 dinners a night than 300.
And over time, that experience has paid off as the prepared food industry has reached unprecedented growth. Beyond the scale of preparing, cooking, and cleaning for thousands, Jamie, Patti and Jordan have seen remarkable improvements in technology and automation that have yielded impressive results for their clients and dramatically improved the quality of the food served.
With sticker prices ranging from $5,000 to close to $100,000, Spurry-Curren has proved that they can compete with much larger distributors for the same reasons found in every successful business; knowledgeable staff, over-the-top customer service, and a passion for quality. But the real reason for their success, and their recipe for long-term sustainability, is to differentiate themselves from their competition by retaining their small-town culture.
Rather than taking their customers to cold and remote warehouses to test out equipment, Spurry- Curren intentionally wanted those chefs to experience the special magic that only a tiny but vibrate downtown could offer. After hours of experimenting with both equipment and unique recipes with the assistance of Jordan, Jamie and Patti wanted those customers to be able to walk to places like Out of the Fire or the Wardroom and stay at a cozy hotel like the Tidewater.
That formula for success for Spurry-Curren will undoubtedly be tested after almost a year of expensive renovation at the old Market Square site. Only time will tell. But Jamie and Patti see this as the first step in utilizing the building, leading to special events and other community gatherings centered on food.
This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Spurry-Curren, please go here.